At Sol Manufacturing, we do more than just simple components. We take on the difficult projects that require us to create a more efficient solution. For one recent job, we built a tombstone fixture for machining. The goal was to greatly increase the amount of production that could be manufactured per shift. The customer gave us a basic idea of what they wanted, and our team developed a design, working prototype, then the final assembly.
A tombstone fixture is a pedestal or tower that has two or more sides to hold the material that will be machined. This design allows you to create multiple operations and even different types of parts in a single operation. The sides of the tombstone fixture have clamps that hold pieces in place while a CNC milling machine cuts them to the correct shape and specifications.
The customer had an existing, older machining fixture as part of their machining process, but it did not produce enough output. They turned to us to develop a hydraulic work holding fixture that would increase production. The primary challenge of this project was building a clamping solution that had sufficient hydraulic clamping force to hold the blanks while the machining center cut them to the desired specifications.
The hydraulic fixture needed to deliver enough clamping force to hold a large number of blanks at one time and to keep those blanks from moving while they are machined.
Our solution was to design a tombstone fixture that could hold 48 blanks at one time. Together with our partners, we took this challenge from sketches to the final product. The way we ensured the tombstone fixture had enough clamping power was to create a unique manifold system to hold the clamps and deliver the hydraulic fluid to them.
The clamps are bolted to manifold plates, which are machined on the inside to accept the clamps and provide the hydraulic fluid and pressure. The benefit of this system is that you can just plug in the manifold to the hydraulic system instead of each individual clamp. Those clamps then had enough hydraulic force to hold the components in place as the horizontal machining center cut the features to the proper tolerances.
The project was a success. We built a tombstone fixture that was setup similarly as their current machining fixture, and it fit seamlessly into their operation, plus boosted production output to 30% per shift. Once the fixture was finished, we programmed the operating system, and trained the operators on the equipment.
It was a very complex project with a lot of moving parts, but with our team’s knowledge and experience, we created an effective turnkey manufacturing solution for the client. The result was a successful boost in production capability.