Abstract

Based on a survey of small- to medium-sized companies that supply sheet metal parts to the major aircraft manufacturers, there is a need for a more simplified, flexible and inexpensive method to design, fabricate and register part fixtures used for CNC post forming operations (e.g., trimming, drilling). Consequently, a method has been developed that satisfies these identified needs by customizing several existing part fixturing techniques to the aircraft manufacturing environment. Fabrication of the fixture is based on casting some material (e.g., polyurethane) in a CNC-machined mold of the part’s inside mold line and registration points, and then imbedding a simple support structure into the semi-cured, cast material. Generation of the “working” NC code is based on transforming a “master” NC code created from the original CAD model of the part to the new position and orientation of the actual fixture mounted in the CNC workbed. Little precision is required in either the fixture fabrication or registering. Practical implementation of this simplified method and an actual case study are discussed.

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