Automated fixture design for a rapid machining process
Rapid prototyping techniques for CNC machining have been developed in an effort to produce functional prototypes in appropriate materials. One of the major challenges for rapid machining is to develop an automatic fixturing system for securing the part during the machining process. The method proposed in this paper is the use of sacrificial fixturing, similar to the support structures in existing rapid processes like Stereolithography. During the machining process, sacrificial supports emerge incrementally and, at the end of the process, are the only entities connecting the part to the stock material. This paper presents methodologies for the design of sacrificial support structures for a rapid machining process and illustrates them using a complex sample part machined in the laboratory.