Flexible fixturing is a necessary aspect of Flexible Manufacturing Systems (FMS) and Computer-Integrated Manufacturing Systems (CIMS). Modular fixtures are most widely used in industry for job and batch production. Computer-Aided Fixture Design (CAFD) has become a research focus in implementing FMS and CIMS. Fixture configuration design is an important issue in the domain of CAFD. A review of the current research in CAFD indicates that a major problem impeding the automated generation of fixture configurations is the lack of studies on fixture structures. This paper investigates fundamental structures of dowel-pin based modular fixtures and fixturing characteristics of commonly used modular fixture elements. A Modular Fixture Element Assembly Relationship Graph (MFEARG) is designed to represent combination relationships between fixture elements. Based on MFEARG, algorithms are developed to search all suitable fixturing unit candidates and mount them into appropriate positions on a baseplate with interference checking. A prototype system for automated design of dowel-pin modular fixture configurations is presented in this paper. Fixture design examples are given at the end of the paper.

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