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What is the difference between Jigs and Fixtures?

10/11/2013 4:20:24 PM | by Anonymous

Jigs & Fixtures

The key difference between Jigs and Fixtures is that a jig is a type of tool used to control the location or motion of another tool. On the other hand, a fixture is a support or work holding device used to hold work in place. In metal and wood working, both jigs and fixtures are essential tools used. Many often confuse the two with one another. However, they are two separate tools with different functions altogether.

A jig is typically described as a plate, box or open frame used for holding work and guiding machine tools to work. It is typically used for locating and spacing drilled holes. A fixture is however described as any of various devices used for holding work in a machine tool, especially for machining in a straight line as in a planer or milling machine. Also, it is described for holding parts in certain positions during the assembly and welding processes.

The main objective of a jig is to provide repeatability, interchangeability and accuracy in the manufacturing process of products. It is mostly used to hold and guide another tool such as a saw or a drill. The most common form of jig is the drill jig. They help to guide the drill bit for creating holes in desired locations. On the other hand, the fixture is used to the work in a fixed location. It is a supportive device that is typically huge and permanently attached to the work surface. The main objective of a fixture is to ensure that the work piece is stable and does not move when the machine starts operating. A fixture can be unique and at the same time built to fit a particular part or shape.

There are also devices that do both the work of a jig and fixture. These machines are called jigs which is also why many get confused and find it hard to tell the two apart. There are many types of jigs, some of which includes machining jigs, tapering jigs, welders’ jigs, jeweler’s jigs and etc. Some types of jigs are also known as templates or guides. The primary purpose of jigs and fixtures are that they help reduce the cost of produce, maintains consistent quality maximizes efficiency, enables a variety of parts to be made to correct specifications and lastly reduce operator errors.

An example of a jig is when a jig-saw is used to cut a certain shape or pattern in a piece of wood. The fixture is the clamps that hold the wood steady. However, due to the advancement of automation and computer numerical controlled machines, jigs are often not required due to the fact that the tool path is digitally programmed and all memory is stored.

Just like jigs, there are also various types of fixtures. Some are used for general purposes, whereas some other are used for special purposes. Fixtures that are used for general purposes are usually relatively inexpensive and can hold a variety and range of sizes of work pieces. Some examples are like vices, chucks and split collets. On the other hand, fixtures with special purposes are designed and built to hold particular work pieces for a specific operation on a specific machine or process.

The advantages of jigs and fixtures are that they help in increasing productivity by eliminating the individual positioning, marking and frequent checking of the part during manufacturing. This reduces both operation time and increases the productivity. They also have high interchangeability. Jigs and fixtures help to facilitate uniform quality in the manufacturing process. There is no need for selective assembly to be done. Any part of the machine can fit properly into assembly and all components are interchangeable. Additionally, they help with skill reduction. They simply locating and clamping of the work pieces. Tool guiding elements help to ensure the correct positioning of the tools with respect to the work pieces. Skillful setting of the work piece tool is not required. Last but not least, it allows cost reduction. Due to the increased productivity, easy assembly, reduction in waste and savings in labour cost results in substantial reduction in the cost of product produced with jigs and fixtures.


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