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The 4 Best Welding Fixture Applications for 3D Printing

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Jaclyn Schindler Adhoh January 08, 2024
January 08, 2024

What are welding fixtures?

Welding fixtures are tools used in welding processes which hold and position workpieces. The purpose of welding fixtures is to correctly orient and align the workpieces. Fixture components for welding lead to higher accuracy, consistency, and repeatability in the welding process. The benefits of welding fixtures include stability and support, proper alignment, accessibility, and improved operator safety.

Types of welding fixtures

Welding fixtures can have many different purposes throughout the welding process, but the overall importance of welding fixtures is to secure workpieces. 

Examples of welding fixtures include:

  • Vise-jaw fixtures have adjustable vise jaws which hold in place abnormally shaped workpieces.
  • Clamping fixtures utilize welding fixture clamps to secure workpieces during welding.
  • Rotational fixtures enable the rotation of cylindrical workpieces during welding.
  • Indexing fixtures position workpieces at particular angles or positions for welding.
  • The welding fixture design of dedicated fixtures enables specific welding operation or workpiece configuration.
  • The welding fixture setup of modular fixtures contains standardized components that can be assembled to support varying workpieces and welding requirements.
3d-printed-fixture-components

 

Welding fixtures that can be 3D printed

In terms of welding fixture automation, there are four main welding fixtures which can be additively manufactured. MIG (Metal Inert Gas) welding fixtures ensure accurate and efficient MIG welding processes. The welding fixture design of MIG enables workpieces to be properly positioned and aligned. MIG also supports the welding gun and wire feed throughout MIG welding operations. It is essential that MIG welding fixtures disperse heat correctly and this impacts the type of material used. 

TIG (Tungsten Inert Gas) welding fixtures are tools that support the exact positioning and alignment of workpieces during TIG welding operations. Welding fixture construction of TIG must allow for joint access, clearance, and customization. TIG welding requires increased accuracy to achieve high-quality welding operations.  

Laser welding fixtures hold and position workpieces throughout the laser welding processes. The importance of welding fixtures like these is to ensure proper alignment, stability, and accessibility for efficient and correct laser welding. 

Spot welding fixtures hold and position workpieces during spot welding operations. The spot-welding process involves two or more metal sheets which are joined together by applying pressure and heat at certain points. 

Benefits of 3D printing welding fixtures

Additive manufacturing is more cost effective than traditional methods since it removes the need for expensive tooling and machining. Fixture components for welding that are 3D printed are more customizable and this flexibility enables rapid prototyping and iteration. The welding fixture design can be more intricate and complex since additive manufacturing can achieve difficult geometries. These designs are also ergonomic and utilize lightweight materials. 3D printing significantly reduces time to market since fixtures can be printed in-house. By producing parts on-demand, the need to maintain a large inventory is eliminated.

By using welding fixtures, workpieces can be properly oriented and aligned. This results in greater repeatability, accuracy, and consistency, improving the overall welding process. Welding fixtures can be created through traditional methods or by additive manufacturing. With 3D printing, welding fixtures can be customized and are cheaper and faster to produce. 

To learn more about 3D Fixturing applications, read our new 3D Fixturing Guide!

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