Fixture layout can affect deformation and dimensional variation of sheet metal assemblies. Conventionally, the assembly dimensions are simulated with a quantity of finite element (FE) 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 global optimization algorithms. In this paper, two global algorithms are proposed to optimize fixture locator points, which are social radiation algorithm (SRA) and GAOT, a genetic algorithm (GA) in optimization toolbox in matlab. The flowchart of fixture design includes the following steps: (1) 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. (2) The two global optimization algorithms are edited to be used to optimize fixture schemes based on matlab. (3) Since matlab macrocommands 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 GAOT algorithm is more suitable than SRA for generating the optimal fixture layout with excellent efficiency for engineering applications.

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