Titanium Machining Fixtures

Fixtures are a crucial part of the machining process. They hold the work piece in place and are also part of the workflow in a CNC operation. The best fixtures are highly adjustable, adaptable and quick. The longer they take to secure a piece, the slower the pace of the overall machining. That means more traditional fixtures like vices or C-clamps have been replaced in most companies by hydraulic or pneumatic clamps. These can be adjusted and used on a number of different bases quickly. Plus they tighten and loosen quickly for higher productivity.

The Best Fixtures

The best types of fixtures combine 5 qualities.

  • Adjustable: They need to be able to adjust to varying angles and shapes.
  • Embracing: Fixtures should embrace the piece rather than relying on friction alone to hold it.
  • Sensitive jaws: If your fixture secures too tightly it can mar the work piece, too loose and it is dangerous.
  • Fast: The less adjustment and time needed to fix and unfix a piece, the better.
  • Even: Fixtures should hold a piece from multiple angles to ensure low chatter and high stability.

These criteria are necessary for any machining operation that wants high throughput and low waste. They save time and help prevent costly accidents while producing the highest quality pieces.

Which Fixture to Use

Fixtures come in all shapes and sizes. There is no hard and fast formula to tell you which fixture works best, because what works best to machine one thing may not be right for the next job. There are however some tips to help you choose the fixture for you. First, do not shop based on price. Cheap fixtures are not really cheap. If they take extra time to adjust or secure, you will lose money in the long run. Second, make sure they embrace the piece. A fixture should have as many points of contact with the work piece as possible. This makes the entire piece more ridged and helps prevent chatter. Third, use hydraulic or pneumatic fixtures. These are quick and they give you a lot of adjustability as far as force on the work piece. They can also grasp tighter than more traditional fixtures. Finally, make sure you get a fixture with a heavy base. This will prevent chatter and make the entire thing more secure.

Types of Fixtures

Fixtures come in every description and size but they do fall into 5 basic categories. These are:

  • Plate Fixtures: These are made from a plate of metal that has a number of locators, supports and clamps. They are some of the most common types of fixtures because of their versatility. They can adjust to fit different work pieces and tools.
  • Angle Plate Fixtures: These fixtures are similar to standard plate fixtures except their mounting surface sits parallel to the mounting surface rather than perpendicular.
  • Vice-Jaw Fixtures: These are fixtures designed to be used in the jaws of a vice. They are cheap, easy to use and simply to modify.
  • Indexing Fixtures: This type of fixture is used when machining needs to be done at a prescribed spacing. They must have an accurate means of locating and maintaining the indexed part position.
  • Multi-Part or Multi-Station Fixtures: These fixtures are most commonly used for machining a number of parts using the same setup. They can also be used to machine several parts in a precise sequence.

By choosing the right fixture, you can increase your profits and take on larger and more complex jobs. This makes good fixtures a crucial part of any machining operation.