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Jigs & Fixtures

Today’s mass manufacturing processes create everything from the cell phones we carry to the cars we drive and make these products with extreme accuracy and uniformity. This would not be possible without the use of jigs and fixtures. In this article, we cover the difference between jigs and fixtures, their benefits to the manufacturing industry, and how producing your jigs and fixtures via 3D printing may be more efficient than traditional manufacturing. 

What Are Jigs and Fixtures? 

Jigs and fixtures are custom-made manufacturing tools that help control and automate the production process. The terms are often confused and used interchangeably, but the exact differences may be defined as follows: 

A jig is a guiding tool that directs and positions other manufacturing tools so that cuts, holes, and more can be made accurately on every production part. Most commonly, jigs are used to ensure the correct placement of drilled or tapped holes. Jigs help eliminate problems with components being misaligned or otherwise not fitting correctly. 

A fixture is a support tool that locates and secures the workpiece in a stable position. The solid component of a fixture is where the part rests. This portion of the fixture is attached to the floor or machine body and is immovable so it can hold the part steady and not move when force is applied during the manufacturing process. Buttons or pins are used as locator devices to place the workpiece quickly and correctly each time. Clamps are then used to secure the part in one position. This enables the orientation of the part to controlled as well. Fixtures aid in a faster production process because the placement and securing of each part is reliable every time.   

Benefits to Manufacturing 

The most efficient manufacturing processes are those that are mostly or fully automated because they produce parts quickly and accurately with very little room for human error from an operator. Jigs and fixtures are essential components needed to automate a production process. Specifically, the use of jigs and fixtures in a production does the following: