Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Yiming (Kevin) Rong, Advisor

Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Christopher A. Brown, Department Head




The objectives of Sensor Based Fixture Design and Verification (SFDV) research are to provide the means for detecting contact failure of the workpiece with fixture locators and for preventing incorrect loading of the workpiece in a fixture. The fixtures that involve complex free-form surfaces especially in the aerospace industries face problems caused by the contact failure of the workpiece with locators. In batch and mass production defects often occur due to incorrect loading of the workpiece in a fixture by an operator due to fatigue or inadvertence. The current fixturing research is focussed on improving the fixture quality and other aspects and do not address these issues. This research is focussed on three areas, to generate algorithms for automatically foolproofing the fixtures, to build locators with embedded sensors that could be used to verify the contact and foolproof the existing fixtures, and to design and experimentally validate fixtures for free-form surfaces with sensors to verify the location. In foolproofing, workpieces were classified into different categories to identify the existence of a solution and the geometry was simplified and used to search for a solution based on symmetry/asymmetry to discover a foolproofing location. The algorithms were implemented in a CAD software and the solutions were verified in 3D space. The locators with inbuilt sensors were designed for foolproofing and location verification purposes and the sensors were used in case studies to establish credibility. A sensor based fixture design method is created for the part location of free-form surfaces using fiber optic sensors. An experimental fixture with sensors incorporated in the locators was used to determine the effects of surface curvature on the sensitivity of the sensors. A new theory on best locations for the sensor based locators by utilizing surface curvature is proposed based on the experimental results. The SFDV implementation may help realize the dream for any manufacturing sys­tem aspiring to move beyond the six sigma levels of quality and achieve zero defects.


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Degree Name



Manufacturing Engineering

Project Type


Date Accepted





error proofing, foolproofing, poka-yoke, Free-form surfaces, Fixture, Jigs and fixtures, Computer aided fixture design, Detectors, Industrial applications, Machining, Automation, Computer-aided fixture design