During tooling, manufacturers use various tools to help shape, form or finish work pieces. This process in the past occurred with the assistance of manually operated tools. Today, automation often permits more rapid machining. Specialized devices known as “jigs” and “fixtures” assist tooling during production.
In its most basic form, a jig helps maintain an optimal positional relationship between a work piece and a manufacturing tool. During the assembly process, it may also promote the positioning of different parts of a work piece relative to one another. Jigs usually expedite machining processes.
Inventors have created a large number of useful jigs. These devices assist the fabrication of industrial components. In some cases, jigs also serve as templates, patterns or gauges used to guide the forming of a work piece. Jigs occur in many sizes and shapes. They typically help ensure the accurately positioning of work pieces during machining. Additionally, some jigs also help hold parts in place relative to other components during product assembly.
“Open” styles of jigs generally enable manufacturers to make changes to a single surface of the work piece. By contrast, “closed” jigs allow the simultaneous transformation of two or more surfaces at once. Today, some automated fabrication plants send work pieces along an assembly line of “multi-station jigs” during machining; automation frequently facilitates this process during high volume production.
Drill Jigs: This type of jig assists a manufacturer in drilling or boring identical holes in work pieces undergoing finishing. For example, while a rotating blade bores away material from the surface, a drill jig can ensure a piece continues to remain in an optimal position.
Welding Jigs: These jigs help stabilize work pieces during the welding process. They help keep parts held together tightly (similar to a vise), for instance. The use of welding jigs enables metal fabricators to conduct welding operations more safely because the constituent parts won’t loosen or move during the application of the weld.
Wood Working Jigs: A wide array of woodworking jigs help carpenters form and shape wooden components. For example, some specialized woodworking jigs function in conjunction with specific types of cutting devices, such as routers and circular saws. Other woodworking jigs function to push wood towards the saw blade during cutting operations.
Template Jigs: The use of these specialized types of jigs allows a manufacturer to guide the formation of a part. The template functions as a pattern when cutting material out of a metal sheet, for example. Template jigs may help prevent the unnecessary loss of materials during the fabrication process, contributing to more cost-effective fabrication.
Plate Jigs: This device functions in a similar manner to a template jig. It usually includes a mechanism for clamping the work piece to the plate jig during the forming of a part. Manufacturers sometimes use plate jigs as a guide for drilling holes in uniform locations on multiple work pieces during the tooling process.
Table Jigs: A specialized type of open jig widely utilized in manufacturing processes, this device permits a machinist to make uniform changes to a single exposed surface of a metal part.
Staircase Jig: This specialized woodworking jig helps manufacturers replicate the interiors of staircases. It helps generate uniformly sized, consistently angled stairs.
Sharpening Jig: This useful jig helps position tools correctly during blade honing and sharpening. It permits the generation of consistently angled cutting blades on cutting tools (including chisels and planers).
A jig usually performs dual functions: it keeps work pieces correctly positioned during machining and it helps guide forming operations. However, a fixture simply holds materials in place securely. It plays no role in material shaping.
Both jigs and fixtures perform useful roles during the process of fabricating metal parts. For instance, these devices greatly assist manufacturers seeking to inspect and assemble components. They also offer valuable service during machining.
The use of jigs offers numerous benefits for manufacturers.
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