Locating features provide a perfect solution for locating component parts when integrated into the part design. The use of locating features can remove tooling expenses, shorten assembly times and improve process repeatability. In this article, we’re going to discuss the use of locating features in your part design to eliminate the need for fixtures and tooling.
The Problems with Fixture-Locating
Typically, fixtures are used to properly locate the parts when component parts are assembled together. Whether the assembly method is welding, spot-welding, or a mechanical assembly process (such as riveting), there is generally some sort of locating feature required.
There are inherent problems when parts are fixture-located, including:
- The cost to produce the fixture
- The time required to position and secure the fixture
- The potential to incorrectly position or misalign the fixture during use
Another solution for locating component parts is the use of locating features that are integrated into the part design. There are numerous locating features available for joining surfaces together. For example, with parallel surfaces, creating a dowel or protrusion in one part that aligns with a hole in the mating part is an excellent solution.
Another feature often used for locating parallel surfaces is called a bridge lance. Bridge lances are used by either creating a cutout in the mating piece that follows the outside perimeter of the lance, or by creating a tab feature on the mating piece the slit-fits under the bridge of the lance.
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For perpendicular surfaces, locating features include creating a slot or notch in one part, and a tab on the edge of the second part that fits into the slot or notch. Another method for locating perpendicular parts is a slot in one piece with a locking tab feature in the other. This creates a passive interlock that is generally used in conjunction with a rivet or other method for locking the pieces together.
There are several other methods available for self-locating parts that will improve process repeatability and lower assembly costs.