Custom Welding Fixtures
July 20, 2023

Custom Welding Fixtures: Should You Design In-House or Outsource?

If you’re debating whether to design your own welding fixtures or enlist outside support, there are two questions you should explore:

  • How busy is your team with existing priority projects?
  • How much experience do you have with automation fixtures?

Along with digging into these considerations, we’ll outline the major advantages of custom welding fixtures and discuss how a robotics integration expert like Kinetic can help you meet your goals faster and with greater returns.

1. How Busy Is Your Team with Existing Priority Projects?

You’re not alone if the one thing preventing you from designing a custom fixture is time. Many manufacturing engineers have the desire and ability to make welding fixtures, but they can’t justify prioritizing a fixturing project over their team’s other high-priority jobs.

We get it. We’ve been there ourselves: repeatedly delaying valuable process improvements in favor of keeping our machines running—even though those improvements would significantly enhance our shop’s overall efficiency, productivity, and profitability.

New challenges in a new manufacturing era

Rewind a few decades, and most manufacturers had dedicated tool rooms where tool-and-die specialists sharpened tools and built custom fixtures. Today, well-equipped tool rooms are rare. Many manufacturers have eliminated them altogether, often because they’re hesitant to prioritize internal improvements over work that provides an immediate payout. 

Maintaining a modern tool department presents another serious challenge: finding skilled specialists who can do the work. Our country’s most experienced tool-and-die professionals are approaching retirement age. And the US workforce is unprepared to fill their shoes.

Here at Kinetic, we bridge the gap between the improvements your company needs and the expertise you can’t hire in-house.

2. How Much Experience Do You Have with Automation Fixtures?

“How hard can it be?” That was our thought when we first began creating custom fixtures—and we weren’t completely wrong to ask that question. Traditional fixtures can be quite straightforward to design and build.

But then, we focused our efforts on creating automated welding fixtures. We learned very quickly that these specialized assets have equally specialized requirements. 

From working with different companies and technologies to building our RT1 fixture welding table, we’ve learned exactly how to design and build fixturing solutions that allow you to load your pieces into the fixture and then walk away while a robot performs the welding. Or for manual welding, our custom welding fixtures allow a welder to tack and weld everything in a single setup.

Kinetic’s solutions are vastly different from the cobbled-together welding fixtures most manufacturers are familiar with. As you’ll see, the difference lies in subtle yet powerful improvements resulting from expert production knowledge and thoughtfully tailored details.

The niche nuances of automated welding fixtures 

Fixturing frames last much longer than you’d anticipate; the last fixture we replaced for a customer was over 50 years old! The problem with a decades-old fixture is that, over time, the contact surface experiences wear. After a year or two of using the same fixture, the fixture’s wear could degrade your part’s tolerances by as much as 0.03”.

Sacrificial wear surfaces are a key adaptation we build into Kinetic welding fixtures. With a sacrificial wear surface, you can replace the welding fixture plate without having to build an entirely new fixture.

Adjustable stops allow you to mitigate any wear on the fixture while still placing your weldment assembly exactly where you want it. The ability to fine-tune the fixture welding table is also beneficial for parts made on different mills. Even with an unworn contact surface, parts may sit or lie slightly differently inside the fixture depending on how or where they were machined. But with adjustable stops, you can accommodate those tolerancing inconsistencies during welding.

Cycle time reduction and part removal are two additional considerations that we design and build for. A long-lasting welding fixture doesn’t serve you very well if a human must still play a significant role in the process, so we emphasize fixturing solutions that demonstrably reduce cycle times. We’ve also honed the art of developing custom welding fixtures that hold your workpiece securely without making it difficult (or impossible!) to remove after the clamps are released.

The Benefits of Kinetic’s Automated Welding Fixtures

When Kinetic designs and builds your custom welding fixture, the advantages will quickly outpace your investment. Allow us to convert you from a fully manual process to an automated one with robotics integration, and you’ll easily double your productivity! 

After transitioning one recent customer to welding automation, they increased their weldment rate from four weldments per 10-hour shift to 11 in the same timeframe!

Our customers regularly report these benefits from their custom welding fixtures: 

  • Improved part quality
  • Increased repeatability
  • Decreased manual setup
  • Fewer errors
  • Higher first pass yield
  • Better fitment of precision parts
  • Lower labor costs
  • Shorter cycle times
  • Maximized employee safety
  • Simplified maneuverability of large and heavy parts
  • Streamlined ergonomics
  • Increased productivity

Manufacturers Trust Kinetic for Automation Solutions and More

From custom fixtures to product development and contract manufacturing, Kinetic offers a wide range of capabilities. Our highly skilled, solution-focused team understands the needs of modern manufacturers, and we have the experience to solve problems you may not have even identified yet.

Talk to us about your challenges, and we’ll craft solutions that suit your unique industry, market, business model, and methodology.

We do the job the right way, at the right time, with the right priorities at the forefront.

Get a quote!

Discover What Welding Robot Owners Should Know About Robotic Welding Fixtures & Positioners in our exclusive Ebook.

Kinetic Technologies eBook
Kinetic Technologies eBook

Discover What Welding Robot Owners Should Know About Robotic Welding Fixtures & Positioners in our exclusive Ebook.