Difference between Jigs and Fixtures

Fixtures and jigs are two devices used to reduce the down time of mass production processes. As such, the two terms are frequently used interchangeably. Despite this, functionally speaking, they are different tools. This blog will look at fixtures and jigs, their types, uses, and differences.

What is Jig?

First, a jig is a type of holding device used to control the location and motion of other parts and tools. In CNC machining processes, a jig is commonly used to hold the workpiece in position and guide the cutting tool to maintain harmony between the workpiece and tool. When the jig moves, the tool remains stationary and the machining part is held in the jig by clamping. The most common type of jig is the drill jig, which is used to guide a drill bit as described above. Examples of drill jigs include box jigs, angle plate jigs, sandwich jigs, and channel jigs. Some types of jigs are specifically tailored to use in woodworking, where they can create intricate designs. Other types of jigs include the template jig, plate jig, diameter jig, ring jig, indexing jig, welding jig, jeweler jig, and more.

Uses of Jigs

Jigs are commonly used in applications relating to drilling, reaming, counterboring, tapping, and other types of machining, as well as guides for tools. In furniture, special cramping jigs that ensure squareness are often used. Another common application for jigs is in drill bushings, where they help guide a drill bit through the surface of machine parts for accurate positioning and angles.

What is a Fixture?

A fixture is a holding device used to securely locate, support, and mount the part to be machined in the correct position and ensure the workpiece is able to maintain conformity and interchangeability. When the fixture moves, the tool subsequently moves in relation to the part. Fixtures ensure the part remains stable and simplify the mounting of the workpiece to foster smooth operation and a quick transition from part to part. Fixtures main difference from jigs is that fixtures are never used to guide a tool. Depending on the intended application, common types of fixtures include turning fixtures, milling fixtures, grinding fixtures, broaching fixtures, drilling fixtures, tapping fixtures, welding fixtures, and assembling fixtures.

Uses of Fixtures

Uses for fixtures include milling, turning, planning, slotting, grinding, and other multidimensional machining processes, in addition to automobile assembling and optical laser scanning inspection. An example of a fixture is the material block clamped inside a CNC machine. Fixtures are also essential in assembly lines where they secure and guide parts through the welding and assembly process.

How Jigs and Fitxures Differ?

There are nine key differences between jigs and fixtures: function, complexity, weight, whether or not they are fitted to the machine, machining applications, cost, design, contact, and material.

1. Function: Jigs are primarily used to guide the movement of a cutter along a predetermined path while supporting the piece being cut. Fixtures are mainly used only to secure the workpiece and do not guide the cutter.

2. Complexity: Jigs are easy to use, while fixtures are more complex and sometimes require special skills or accessories to use.

3. Weight: Jigs are lighter for quicker handling and fixtures are heavier due to the need to withstand cutting forces and vibration.

4. Fitted to Machine or Not: Jigs are not held to the machine, and instead are secure by hand or by clamp. Fixtures are always clamped to the machine.

5. CNC Machining Applications: Jigs are used to drill, bore, ream, and tap, while fixtures are used in milling, slotting, shaping, turning, and planning.

6. Cost: Jigs generally cost more than fixtures.

7. Design: Jig designs are more complex than that of fixtures.

8. Contact: Jigs come in direct contact with a tool to set the angle and position it accurately, while fixtures are designed to fit a specific part rather than the cutting tool.

9. Material: Jigs are made of bushes and screws, while fixtures are usually made through the welding of gray cast iron or steel.

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