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Case Studies & Articles

Fixturing Castings Made Simple Through Adhesive Workholding

March 28th, 2023 by Blue Photon


Fixturing Castings Made Simple Through Adhesive Workholding

When a casting proved too malleable for traditional gripping, Thomas/Euclid Industries adopted — and succeeded with — Blue Photon adhesive workholding.

Soft material was not the EV strut housing’s only workholding challenge: The part barely fit the UMC 750’s travels. Potential fixtures needed to be low-profile enough to ensure the part continued to fit the machine. Images courtesy of Thomas/Euclid.

As metals go, aluminum is soft and quick to bend — factors which make it easy to work with for most machining applications but make workholding to tolerances of 0.0005 inch unfeasible with traditional grippers. The force required to perform workholding could send the part out of tolerance, requiring rework or scrap. For Thomas/Euclid Industries, this difficulty became the push it needed to experiment with alternative forms of workholding, utilizing Blue Photon’s adhesive grippers to perform contactless gripping on an EV strut housing made from an aluminum casting.

Maximizing Lights-on Profits

Thomas/Euclid is primarily an aerospace manufacturer — EV automotive parts are not the norm for the company. In this case, the job came about not long after the shop installed a Matsuura MX 330 five-axis machine. The new machine’s automation capacity enabled the shop to run many of the jobs previously on its five-axis Haas UMC 750 for longer periods, decreasing the time necessary to complete these jobs even as it left the UMC 750 idle. Ryan Merrill, chief operating officer at Thomas/Euclid, says the search for additional work to put on the shop’s UMC 750 led the company to a customer already committed to machining EV strut housings.

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Workholding for High Accuracy Medical Device Machining

May 20th, 2020 by Blue Photon

Post Processing | 3D printing presents challenges in workholding for finish machining

Mark Kirby
AM Business Manager,
Renishaw Canada

Metal 3D printing can enable rapid, low cost iterations of new medical devices, since no tooling costs are involved. All devices need testing to uncover problems and develop solutions—allowing the product shape to change “for free” is a powerful advantage with Additive Manufacturing (AM). Other benefits flowing from AM besides enabling more complex geometry are improved accuracy with no component tolerance stack up, and a simplified supply chain with reduced part count. Read the rest of this entry »

Turning to an Adhesive for Lathe Workholding

May 19th, 2020 by Blue Photon

5/19/2020 | 4 Minute Read

Turning to an Adhesive for Lathe Workholding


“Adhesive cured by ultraviolet light is an option for securing parts for machining that could otherwise distort when traditional, mechanical clamping techniques are used.”

Check out the article from Production Machining Blog to learn how BlueGrip workholding adhesive could be a solution to your turning applications:

Turning to an Adhesive for Lathe Workholding

Photo of Blue Photon adhesive being activated on a gripper with UL light

Thin rings such as this one are candidates for a photo-activated adhesive workholding process. The process eliminates part distortion that can might happen when conventional, mechanical clamping devices are used.

For some turning applications, chuck jaws or other conventional workholding devices for CNC lathes can cause a part to distort as clamping force is applied. This can be the case for large, thin rings such as the one shown on the left. Those workholding elements can also prevent full access to a part, which might necessitate reclamping for an additional operation.

Blue Photon offers an alternate workholding method for these types of situations that uses adhesive cured by ultraviolet (UV) light to secure a part for turning. It can also be used for other processes such as milling, grinding, electrical discharge machining and 3D printing/additive manufacturing.

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Workholding Adhesives

December 12th, 2019 by Blue Photon

December 12, 2019 | 2 Minute Read

Workholding Adhesives for Optical and Ceramic Components

Check out the article from Photonics Spectra to learn how workholding adhesives provide alternate solutions to the challenges of traditional holding methods:

Workholding Adhesives for Optical and Ceramic Components

New optical workholding adhesives provide alternate solutions to the challenges of traditional holding methods.


The way optical workpieces are held during processing has changed little over the decades. During grinding and polishing, vacuum fixturing and adhesives such as wax, pitch, and epoxy resins have traditionally been used. The waxes and pitches are heated to reach a flowable state and are then applied to the fixture or part. Once the wax or pitch has cooled, the workpiece is placed into a holding device for processing. In both fixed and rotating applications, the vacuum is often applied with a rotary union. Once the workpiece is loaded into the fixture, the vacuum is turned on to allow the part to be pushed into the fixture by atmospheric pressure. The vacuum is turned off to remove or release the part.

Examples of vacuum fixtures. Photo courtesy of S.I. Howard Glass Company

Figure 1. Examples of vacuum fixtures. Courtesy of S.I. Howard Glass Co.

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Blue Photon made front cover news

September 27th, 2019 by Blue Photon

September 3, 2019 | 2 Minute Read

Out of the blue

Check out the article from Aerospace Manufacturing Magazine to learn how JJ Churchill is using Blue Photon Workholding Technology to meet their manufacturing needs:


Photo of JJ Churchill’s executive chairman, Andrew Churchill

JJ Churchill’s executive chairman, Andrew Churchill

Mike Richardson meets JJ Churchill’s executive chairman, Andrew Churchill to hear about the latest developments of its aerofoil blade machining techniques with the help of a new workholding concept called Blue Photon.

A first-tier expert in the production of gas turbine blades from forgings, castings and solid billet, JJ Churchill says it has halved machining operations on specific critical parts using Blue Photon technology – which is marketed in the UK and Europe by NCMT.

Blue Photon technology enables engineers to realise benefits not possible previously with mechanical fixtures alone. JJ Churchill has utilised the Blue Photon technology in an innovative way to deliver huge productivity benefits for its customers. Read the rest of this entry »

JJ Churchill Ltd reduces machining operations by half with Blue Photon technology

May 10th, 2018 by Blue Photon

Photo of tooling and machining equipment at JJ ChurchillAerospace engineering firm JJ Churchill has announced it has reduced its tooling costs by 5% with a 50% reduction in the number of machining operations on a specific critical part.

This has been achieved with Blue Photon technology which is marketed in the UK and Europe by NCMT Limited.

This technology is applied to a titanium aluminide aerofoil blade component which is an extremely difficult material to fixture and machine. Blue Photon fixes the component to the tool with an adhesive, which cured under UV light, is strong enough for the most rigorous machining techniques including 5-axis CNC. The process is a replacement for encapsulation, providing reduced fixture complexity. Read the rest of this entry »

Case Study: Shop Finds Fixturing Solution for Flexing Parts

November 11th, 2017 by Blue Photon

Photo of a Blue Photon pallet gripping a part during the machining processPrecision Grinding and Manufacturing uses an atypical means to fixture thin parts that are prone to flexing when conventional workholding clamps are used: adhesive cured by UV light. -By Derek Korn

Sometimes, the trickiest aspect of developing an effective machining process is figuring out how best to fixture the part. This can be especially challenging for castings and other workpieces that are relatively thin, because those parts are prone to flexing when conventional mechanical clamps (and even vacuum chucks in some cases) are used. Operators must take care not to distort such parts while tightening clamps, otherwise the parts will spring back to their natural state once the clamps are removed after machining. Vibration can also be an issue for parts like these if they aren’t rigidly fixtured, meaning a quality surface finish might be tough to achieve and cutting parameters might have to be dialed back, extending cycle times. Finding a way to effectively fixture complex, contoured parts can be just as difficult. Read the rest of this entry »

Cutting Tool Engineering: Stick With It

September 1st, 2017 by Blue Photon

Productive Times: Stick With It

By Kip Hanson – Published September 1, 2015

Photo of conventional, less effective grippers for part manipulationLet’s say you want to machine your initials on your favorite Hummel figurine or cut the likeness of the school mascot on your daughter’s Little League helmet. How are you going to grip them? A conventional way to grip fragile, difficult-to-hold workpieces is to encapsulate them in some sort of potting compound, a time-consuming and wasteful process.

Rather than mix up a tub of two-part epoxy, consider photo-activated adhesive workholding (PAAW). Read the rest of this entry »

Case Study: Urschel Laboratories Inc.

May 3rd, 2017 by Blue Photon

Productive Times: Bonded By Light

By Alan Richter – Published May 3, 2017, in Cutting Tool Engineering magazine

Adhesive being applied to the gripper head of a Blue Photon photo-activated adhesive workholding system

Adhesive is applied to the gripper head of a Blue Photon photo-activated adhesive workholding system. Image via CTE and courtesy of Urschel Laboratories.

Urschel Laboratories Inc. manufactures industrial equipment to slice, dice, shred and mill virtually any food product.

According to Bill Monroe, senior manufacturing engineer for Urschel, the company machines parts for the food processors at its only manufacturing facility, located in Urschel’s 350,000-sq.-ft. headquarters. Urschel produces many of these workpieces in its two foundries. “We have a no-bake foundry and an investment foundry,” Monroe said.

As part of a major new project that Urschel, Chesterton, Ind., started late last year, Monroe needed to hold a 300-series stainless steel billet that was convex on one side and then access five sides when machining it on a 5-axis machine. Read the rest of this entry »

Case Study: NCMT Limited

April 22nd, 2017 by Blue Photon

Adhesive Workholding Allows Turbine Blades To Be Ground In One Hit

Technique offers the possibility of automated production

A fixture designed by NCMT for securing a turbine blade on one aerofoil surface using four adhesive grippersA new method for securing a turbine blade prior to machining by gluing one side of its aerofoil to a fixture, rather than using mechanical clamping, allows the root and tip to be ground in one operation. Traditionally, due to clamp interference, at least two operations are required on conventional CNC grinders to machine the fir-tree and wedge face on the root as well as the shroud end features at the tip.

The one-hit manufacturing process is not only faster, but also eliminates work-in-progress and the risk of introducing inaccuracy due to repeated refixturing. The technique is being developed in the UK by NCMT, which sells Makino’s VIPER grinding platforms across Europe. Since May 2015, the company has also been European agent for the patented Blue Photon photo-activated adhesive workholding system from the USA. Read the rest of this entry »