Dynamic fixture planning in virtual environments
Kang, Xiu Mei
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Computer-aided fixture planning (CAFP) is an essential part of Computer-aided design and manufacturing (CAD/CAM) integration. Proper fixture planning can dramatically reduce the manufacturing cost, the lead-time, and labor skill requirements in product manufacturing. However, fixture planning is a highly experience-based activity. Due to the extreme diversity and complexity of manufacturing workpieces and processes, there are not many fixture planning tools available for industry applications. Moreover, existing CAFP methods rarely consider integrating fixture environmental factors into fixture planning. Automatic fixture planning using VR can provide a viable way for industries. This thesis develops automated approaches to fixture planning in a virtual environment (VE). It intends to address two important issues: automatic algorithms for fixture planning, and the VE to support high fidelity evaluation of fixture planning. The system consists of three parts including fixture assembly planning, feasibility analysis of assembly tools, and motion planning for fixture loading and unloading. The virtual fixture planning system provides the fixture designer a tool for fixture planning and evaluation. Geometrical algorithms are developed to facilitate the automatic reasoning. A Web-based VE for fixture planning is implemented. The three-dimensional (3D) model visualization enables the fixture simulation and validation effectively to investigate existing problems. Approaches to construct desktop-based large VEs are also investigated. Cell segmentation methods and dynamic loading strategies are investigated to improve the rendering performance. Case studies of virtual building navigation and product assembly simulations are conducted. The developed algorithms can successfully generate the assembly plan, validate the assembly tools, and generate moving paths for fixture design and applications. The VE is intuitive and sufficient to support fixture planning, as well as other virtual design and manufacturing tasks.