Fixture layout can affect deformation and dimensional variation of sheet metal assemblies. Conventionally, the assembly dimensions are simulated using a large number of finite element analyses, and fixture layout optimization needs significant user intervention and unaffordable iterations of finite element analyses. This paper therefore proposes a fully automated and efficient method of fixture layout optimization based on the combination of 3DCS simulation (for dimensional analyses) and GAOT, a genetic algorithm in optimization toolbox in MATLAB. The locating points, the key elements of a fixture layout, are selected from a much smaller candidate pool thanks to our proposed manufacturing constraints based filtering methods and thus the computational efficiency is greatly improved. Since MATLAB macro commands of 3DCS have been developed to calculate assembly dimensions, the optimization process is fully automated. A case study of inner hood is applied to demonstrate the proposed method. The results show that the proposed method is suitable for generating the optimal fixture layout with excellent efficiency for engineering applications.

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