About Tosa Tool Modular Fixturing:

About Tosa Tool Modular Fixturing | Tosa Tool

Written by Dan Bye, Owner Tosa Tool LLC
 

I began my career in manufacturing in 1987 in a small, family-owned machine shop in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. When I started, the company had just received their first Modular Fixturing Plate for the company’s Fadal 4020 VMC. We all loved it, new short run jobs arrived daily and this made the setups a breeze.

Vises went up fast and straight. Angle plates that were made for the modular table were a serious asset. The difficult parts that would not go in a vise or in a chuck were easily fixtured right to the table. Sometimes we had to build a custom pin, or a locating pad, but it was a much better system for setup than what they had been doing: making custom fixtures for every job.

I didn’t know anything different, until I went to work for someone else. Over the course of the next 25 or so years I saw a lot. I have watched machinists spend hours and hours indicating vises straight, sweeping parts in, edge finding over and over, and probing everything in sight. Over the years I have learned to “fit in” but I always wondered if it was just me or did things really go that much easier with the Modular Fixturing Systems I was “raised” on?

When you think about it, Modular Fixturing really makes a lot of sense. You have a “perfect virtual workspace” inside your CAD/CAM system, and your CNC provides you a “perfect digital envelope” within its travel boundaries (+/- .0002″), so what would make more sense than to locate your work piece on a “perfect” Modular Tooling plate? NOTHING. These plates and the fixturing that goes with them provide the Ultimate Fixturing Solution you are looking for to get that part out of the CAD and into the real world.

Fast forward to now; I am self employed, and often helping small businessmen, engineers, scientists, software programmers, doctors, and entrepreneurs to manufacture their designs in their own facilities, at their own pace, for the best possible bottom dollar.

All have chosen to eliminate the hassle of waiting in line at a local machine shop to get their prototype created, only to learn that they need another revision, placing them at the end of the line at the shop for another long wait. They are innovators, do it your selfers, impatient inventors,  the makers of tomorrow, they want the job done as quick and easy as possible. They want to design their products and make them as quickly and easily as possible, if it needs to be revised they do not want to build a whole new fixture.

I thought “I Can Do That For Them!” and I went to work building the Modular Fixturing Store you see here.

I use the TT1234c on my CNC knee mill and I have never been happier to walk out to my machine and make something, its like half the job is done already. I make things that are considerably bigger than the 18″x9″ travels on my PCNC1100 all the time, and I can setup 3-8 jobs a day without much hassle. I will continue to share my setups and my customers setups as much as I can, and I will add new designs as often as I can afford to sit down and design them. Come back often!

It may be hard to see at first. The answer to the problem is here. Just Ask!

Dan Bye

www.tosatool.com

Modular Fixturing Links

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Contact: dan@tosatool.com

TT Modular Fixturing on You Tube:

Peter Cooper

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Tosa Tool LLC

Artisian Dice

S.M.E on Modular Fixturing

Society of Mechanical Engineering

Modular Fixturing Assessment
The following is an assessment of Modular fixturing systems written by Robert L. Coope, President of the Society of Mechanical Engineers. It is entitled “Modular Fixturing VS. Dedicated Tooling The Pros and Cons” SME Technical Paper #TE93-388.

While it was written in reference to large job shops and production facilities, it really applies to all of us. We all want to be able to do the short run faster, easier and less expensive.

INTRODUCTION
The introduction of the modular fixturing concept for machine tool applications has met with varying degrees of acceptance on the part of decision makers in this country. On one hand, managers with a strong bias in favor of traditional workholding techniques are reluctant to embrace new approaches. This reluctance translates into lost opportunities for important gains in productivity. The opposite extreme is the manager who is totally enamored with the modular concept and is wrongly advised by an over-zealous salesman to dispose of all of his permanent dedicated tooling. This extreme can have unfavorable consequences of a different nature. The purpose of the following is to suggest a way of analyzing the pluses and minuses of continued use of dedicated fixtures versus the all-modular approach of creating temporary holding fixtures using modular accessories. A measured case-by-case consideration of each approach and how it fits in with specific product mixes and production requirements can yield good results.

 

SMALL-LOT PRODUCTION

In discussing the relative merits of dedicated fixtures and modular fixtures, it is assumed that the reader is involved in small-lot production runs and is consequently interested in reducing 1) setup time, 2) tooling expense, and 3) tooling lead time. Whether dedicated tooling or the all-modular approach is used, a proven way to reduce machine setup time is to use an accurate grid pattern for locating fixtures, vises, and other accessories. The ability to pin fixtures and components into an accurate grid pattern eliminates the need to indicate or probe for alignment and position. While an accurate grid pattern greatly reduces machine setup time, the decision must be made whether and when to go one step further in utilizing this same grid pattern to address the other factors in small-lot production: tooling expense and tooling lead time. When should a custom dedicated fixture be designed and built? When should the all-modular approach be used?

ADVANTAGES OF DEDICATED TOOLING

When given a clean sheet of paper, an adequate budget, and sufficient lead time, a skilled tool designer can design a custom workholding fixture that is ideally suited to the application. Not limited to standard hardware, the designer may create custom details that offer the strength and rigidity to withstand aggressive cutting forces without sacrificing compactness or workpiece loading ease. Locators and clamps may be sized and shaped specifically for the part they are being used to hold. Tapped and bored holes may be incorporated into the fixture at any location. The all-modular approach generally makes some sacrifices in terms of 1) rigidity and strength, 2) ease and speed in loading the workpiece, or 3) overall compactness of the fixture. Modular accessories are designed for maximum versatility in a wide range of applications. At times, a clamp or locator made from all-modular components may consist of more than one component coupled together with some possible overall loss in rigidity versus a one-piece custom detail used in a dedicated fixture. Rigidity in an all-modular setup often comes at the expense of overall compactness. As a result, a larger working envelope may be required to accommodate a modular fixture. A custom fixture can be optimized for the ergonomic convenience of the operator, making loading of the workpiece easy. Careful planning of the all-modular fixture can minimize inconveniences but not always eliminate them.
ADVANTAGES OF THE ALL-MODULAR APPROACH

When given a clean sheet of paper, an adequate budget, and sufficient lead time, a skilled tool designer can design a custom workholding fixture that is ideally suited to the application. Not limited to standard hardware, the designer may create custom details that offer the strength and rigidity to withstand aggressive cutting forces without sacrificing compactness or workpiece loading ease. Locators and clamps may be sized and shaped specifically for the part they are being used to hold. Tapped and bored holes may be incorporated into the fixture at any location. The all-modular approach generally makes some sacrifices in terms of 1) rigidity and strength, 2) ease and speed in loading the workpiece, or 3) overall compactness of the fixture. Modular accessories are designed for maximum versatility in a wide range of applications. At times, a clamp or locator made from all-modular components may consist of more than one component coupled together with some possible overall loss in rigidity versus a one-piece custom detail used in a dedicated fixture. Rigidity in an all-modular setup often comes at the expense of overall compactness. As a result, a larger working envelope may be required to accommodate a modular fixture. A custom fixture can be optimized for the ergonomic convenience of the operator, making loading of the workpiece easy. Careful planning of the all-modular fixture can minimize inconveniences but not always eliminate them.

CONCLUSIONS

It has been well established that significant gains in manufacturing productivity can and have been made through use of modular tooling in manufacturing operations. This is particularly true in factories and shops where small batch quantities and continually changing production requirements necessitate frequent setup changes and reduced response time. A thorough understanding of the variety of ways that modular tooling may be applied to a broad range of manufacturing conditions will help users to apply it properly and profitably.

This paper used with permission of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, Dearborn, Michigan.