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The future of workholding

December 12th, 2018 by Blue Photon

Shape, materials, and the challenges that lay ahead.

Modern digital design and manufacturing, along with material science breakthroughs, have enabled an extensive array of new products and machines. New technologies developed a decade ago are now beginning to find their way into mainstream manufacturing, with the most significant of these being additive manufacturing (AM) and the introduction of new composite materials. In many cases these new methods and materials cause manufacturers to scratch their collective heads when it comes to machining these parts.

Photo of a Blue Photon lathe gripper fixture plate.

Photos courtesy of Blue Photon Technology & Workholding Systems LLC

When the same workholding won’t do

When it comes to holding parts for machining, the methods to do so have changed little since the dawn of manufacturing. Squeezing the part is the norm, and for robust parts this can work well in most cases. However, when it comes to holding thin-wall parts or parts made from ceramic and laminate materials with wild contours, multiple shortcomings arise from traditional-type workholding. Squeezing a thin-walled part or a part made from ceramic or laminate can lead to scrap due to part distortion or chipping of the ceramic or laminate.

Designed for manufacturing

Often when parts are designed, little thought is given as to how the parts will be held in place while machining is being done on them, let alone how the part can be loaded into a machine tool using automation.

Blue Photon’s workholding system solves this problem by freeing up the fixture designer to design tools with greater design flexibility by eliminating the need to oppose clamping pressure on the part in order to prevent distortion. By not having force-opposing devices, the machine tool gains greater access to the part, which in many cases can eliminate operations and allow for better coolant flow to the cutting area.

A new age of manufacturing

In today’s manufacturing environment, speed, efficiency, and the ability to make a correct part every time are critical and key ingredients to being successful. These factors have always played a part in the “bottom line;” however, in an era when machines are running near capacity and when parts change frequently, it is critical to be able to respond quickly and to turn parts around fast. Customers are always demanding quicker delivery times and lower costs. This can be difficult if a custom fixture needs to be built. Blue Photon will assist shops by lowering their fixture costs and simplifying fixture design allowing for a quicker fixture build. Automation of hard-to-hold parts can be easily accomplished by use of the Blue Photon workholding systems.

Blue Photon manufactures a patented photo-activated adhesive workholding system in the U.S. It also offers fixture design and engineering for milling, turning, grinding, EDM, laser, inspection, and assembly applications, including aerospace, additive, robotics, and medical machining.

Blue Photon Technology & Workholding Systems LLC
Aerospace Manufacturing and Design
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December 12, 2018