Work holding assessment of an UV adhesive and fixture design method
- 60 Downloads
Adhesive work holding can be used to minimize clamping distortion and provide greater access to a work piece during machining. This paper proposes shear and tensile strength criteria to evaluate the work holding strength of adhesive grippers and definition of a strength safety coefficient of adhesive grippers. It also demonstrates a case study of work holding design with an UV adhesive for a grinding process based on a strength criteria explained in the paper. A test rig has been designed and manufactured to assess the capability of an adhesive work holding material. Tests include measurement of strength and repeatability of adhesion under different film thicknesses, curing times and pre-cleaning methods. The test shows the strength repeatability is less than ± 20%, which is good enough for many work holding applications. A shear-tensile combined strength can be evaluated by the strength sphere in a fixture design of a specific part geometry for production by the combined safety coefficient. Following the test rig assessment, a fixture has been designed with 3 grippers to demonstrate the adhesive for a grinding process with a simple part geometry. The method has a high potential for application in industry, and is not limited to the given part geometry and machining method. The grinding test shows that the adhesive work holding is strong enough for the application and that similar results can be expected for milling and turning with a good gripper arrangement.
KeywordsWork holding UV adhesive Fixture design Machining Grinding
In near net machining, materials supplied to a machining process tend to be flexible and intricate in geometry due to thin walls or hollow sections. In many cases, flexible parts are subject to part deflection due to clamping before machining starts. The clamping force and work holding design are influential factors on the magnitude of the part deflection.
Encapsulant work holding techniques are popular in industry. These consist of moulding a material around a work piece so as to encapsulate and stiffen the system, but leaving access for the regions that require machining work. The method is suitable for complicated geometries or materials supplied with large geometry variation, such as blades or vanes. The main disadvantage is the time and cost of carrying out encapsulant moulding before machining, then removal, cleaning and disposal of the encapsulant material after machining. An encapsulant is a phase change (solid-liquid-solid) material, and can be a low melting temperature alloy (such as Cerro), wax, polymer (such as Rigidax)  and even magneto rheologic fluid [2, 3]. Sanjay and Paul  presented a fixturing concept of free part encapsulation for ‘complex shaped components’ (components with complicated geometries).
Common temperature-induced phase change materials are thermoplastic materials including low-temperature alloy and wax. Rong et al.  presented a method which uses a magnetic field to control the phase change of a magnetorheological fluid and therefore holds the part in place.
In some cases, only one surface on the part is available for clamping, such as one side of the part for clamping and the other 5 sides left to machine in one go. In this scenario, a vacuum is a good solution to hold the part on one side. It is extensively used for large flexible parts, such as aerofoils, but is also used for part handling [5, 6]. Vacuum solutions require fixture surface to match the part surface closely. Without this, a vacuum cannot be generated within the cavity between the fixture and the part. This is difficult to achieve if the material supply has large geometry variation. A further disadvantage is that the holding force of a vacuum solution is low per unit area, when compared with typical cutting forces. Magnetic work holding [7, 8, 9] is also a good option as employed in a magnetic chuck , but this method is applicable for ferric materials only. In aerospace industry, most of the parts are made of aluminium, titanium and nickel alloys and composites that are non-ferrous.
Adhesive work holding can be a good choice if the above-listed methods are not suitable for a given process. Adhesive work holding will not introduce clamping distortion and will hold the part as it is. Adhesives must be cured to operate, and can be classified as physical curing and chemical curing types. Curing type adhesives can further be classified as one-component and two-component formulas. Most of the physical curing adhesives are one component. Chemical adhesives may be one or two components . Chemical curing adhesive tends to take longer for a chemical reaction to take place, whereas physical curing adhesives tend to be ‘instant’. The most popular physical curing adhesives are thermal adhesive and ultraviolet (UV) adhesive. Few publications reported thermal adhesive used in work holding up to now. Ultraviolet (UV) adhesive can be used to fixture thin wall castings for grinding which is prone to flexing when conventional mechanical clamp is used. UV curing is the process by which ultraviolet light is used to initiate a photochemical reaction that generates a cross-linked network of polymers. UV curing is adaptable to printing, coating, decorating, stereolithography and in the assembly of a variety of products and materials. In comparison with other technologies, curing with UV energy may be considered a low-temperature and a high-speed process. It is also a solventless process as cure occurs via direct polymerization.
A patent has been filed for use of adhesive grippers to fixture a part to be machined . This technology uses adhesive to temporarily bond a work piece to numerous cylindrical grippers installed in a fixture plate. Once the adhesive is cured via ultraviolet (UV) light, the work piece is securely held at a known datum location in an undistorted, free-state condition. After machining, the adhesive bonds between the grippers and work piece are easily broken and any excess adhesive is removed from the completed part via a quick, steam-cleaning wash. Shen et.al. developed an adhesive-based reconfigurable pallet to fixture a part family with the same pallet  rather than a specific fixture for every member.
Doll and de Meter investigated the adhesive shrinking during photopolymerization in a photo-activated adhesive workholding (PAAW) fixture . The shrinkage led to the build-up of residual stresses that may distort the work piece and/or reduce the external load capacity of the adhesive joints.
De Meter investigated and characterized the strength, ductility and failure modes of a light-activated adhesive gripper (LAAG) subject to axial loading and shear loading  and determined the yield strength with regard to tensile and shear. De Meter and Kumar further investigated a hard-to-hold part, namely a casting bracket, with a tight tolerance [15, 16]. Multiple UV grippers were applied along the bracket and the cycle time and cost were analyzed. However, they did not create a method or general rules for fixture design with LAAG, such as how many grippers is enough, what arrangement should be used and what gripper size is enough or better. They did quantify yield strength and demonstrated a specific work holding application.
Raffles et al.  assessed a UV adhesive for work holding. They designed the experiments with two pins joined together by the UV adhesive and the butting joint bonding strength was assessed using a universal test machine with consideration of different (1) curing time, (2) bonding angle, (3) curvature, (4) non-conformal surface (two surface with different radii), (5) surface roughness and (6) degrease. However, the authors did not evaluate the tensile strength and shear strength of the adhesive joint and did not investigate the film thickness impact on the strength. Furthermore, the authors did not report the measured tensile and shear strength of the adhesive, which makes it hard to use the results for fixture design.
The Blue Photon system  is a commercial product available on the market, which is composed of grippers, UV adhesive, curing device and UV light source. This paper tests the ability and repeatability of a specific UV adhesive with the Blue Photon system. It presents a strength criterion, design and demonstration of a fixture with specific grippers for a grinding trial.
2 Load capacity of UV adhesive gripper
An adhesive joint tends to be a thin film over the contact area. The strength can be defined in tension and shear.
The adhesive takes a form of paste. To apply adhesive work holding on a part, first fix the gripper or grippers in a fixture and drop the adhesive on the top of the gripper. After that, position the part on the top of the gripper or grippers with a gap. In the end, apply UV light through the glass of the gripper, as shown in Fig. 1, and the adhesive can be cured with a given curing time. The gripper can be in any orientation and the adhesive is sticky and would not drop due to the effect of gravity but benefits from a level of positive location and nesting to maintain gap thickness during curing.
The size of the adhesive joint does not affect its strength of unit area. Force/area ratio would be constant even if more samples were used, which is equivalent to the film strength. If high forces are required, two options are available: either put in more grippers or choose a bigger gripper to increase the area.
2.1 Tensile load capacity and test
The test rig setup is shown as in Fig. 2. A torque on the load bolt is applied and it is slowly increased until the joint is broken and the maximum force acquired on the load cell is used to calculate the tensile strength.
Adhesive tensile load capacity test, Ft0 (N), curing time 60 s and A = 1.07 × 10−4 m2
Adhesive tensile strength, σt0 (MPa), with curing time of 60 s
Variation, ± %
2.2 Shear load capacity and test
Adhesive shear load capacity, Fs0 (N), curing time 60 s and A = 1.07 × 10−4 m2
Adhesive shear strength, σs0 (MPa), with curing time of 60 s
Variation, ± %
2.3 Curing time effect
2.3.1 Curing time effects on tensile strength
2.3.2 Curing time effect on shear strength
2.4 Surface cleaning and degreasing effects
2.4.1 Cleaning and degreasing effects on tensile strength
Surface cleaning and degreasing affects the joint strength considerably. The most common contaminant in a machining workshop is coolant. To test cleaning and degreasing method effects, the test piece surface was dipped in a coolant with concentration of 10% MicroSol® 585XT , for 60 s and the contaminated surface was used to conduct the test.
Use pressured air to blow to dry test surface and no degreasing
Clean test surface with a tissue and no degreasing
Use pressured air to blow to dry test surface, degrease the surface and use pressure air to dry test surface again
Degrease the surface first and use tissue to make it dry.
Method 3 resulted in a good tensile strength as well, which was 17.83 MPa. This method is expected to perform better with test surfaces with poor surface finish due to the fact that pressurized air can blow away the coolant in micro surface features. The result of method 4 coincided with the average value of Table 2, which was 15.77 MPa, for film thickness of 1.0 mm. Considering the variability of test results though, it can be concluded that all methods except the first method achieved similar tensile strength.
2.4.2 Cleaning and degreasing effects on shear strength
Four same cleaning methods are compared as in tensile test to test the cleaning and degreasing method effects on shear strength.
Because it is a one-off test with regard to the test variation, the results of the methods 2, 3 and 4 are on the similar level.
2.5 Strength and safety
Adhesive grippers are much smaller than the work piece size in most of the cases, hence the joint (adhesive film) can be considered as points and adhesive grippers are not good to bear the load of torque and moment. The gripper diameter is relatively small, so if a little torque or moment is applied on the top of the gripper, a higher stress can be produced on the edge of the adhesive film and the joint can be broken. So the adhesive joint by a gripper can be supposed to stand for forces only in 3D space rather than moment.
The strength criteria and safety coefficient are proposed and the strength criteria are validated by the tests of the gripper with angled top.
2.5.1 Strength criteria
When σz is negative, the tensile strength does not apply and the compression strength is the true strength limit. However, for the thin film of adhesive, the compression strength is so hard to test, which is out of the test rig capability. Generally, the compression strength will be much higher than the tensile strength and in a machining application the machining force will not be able to challenge the compression strength of the joint if the gripper is applied in the right arrangement.
2.5.2 Safety coefficient
If the yield strengths, of tensile and shear, are used as the strength limits, the allowable safety coefficient, S0, can be lower than the recommended values, such as 1.25 and 1.5.
2.5.3 Strength criteria verification
Load capacity of angled grippers and stresses, d = 10 mm
Gripper top angle,°
Submit the strength with angle of 45° or 67.5° and the tensile strength, σt0, into Eq. (8) and the shear strength of the adhesive film is obtained, as σs0 = 11.40 MPa and 6.89 MPa respectively and the average shear strength is 9.15 MPa.
When the top angle is 90° (butting), the load capacity of the gripper is descripted as Eq. (1).
3 Fixture and load calculation
Actually, the design method is suitable for any geometries and machining methods, not limited to the presented geometry and machining method.
The fixture demo is as shown in Fig. 16, three grippers are arranged on the base plate to keep the maximum distance between each other and maximize the work holding capability. The base plate is bolted on to the connection plate with 4 posts as spacers with the same height and the dyno is fixed on back of the connection plate.
The dynamometer used is KISTLER 9272 for measurement of cutting forces on the part. The measuring range is ± 5 kN for Fx and Fy, and the linearity is less than ± 1% full scale. Channels of Fz and Mz are available but they are not mandatory.
The adhesive film thickness is 1.0 mm adjusted by a shim set, which is removed after curing. The curing time used is the recommended value, 60 s.
The three grippers, a, b and c, as shown in Fig. 16, share machining load but not equally. The load share depends on test piece geometry, gripper arrangement, base plate Young’s modulus and Poison ratio etc. Finite element analysis can help to acquire the shared machining load on each gripper with unit load, (100 N used for FEA), in x and y.
100 N cutting force Fy′ and Fx′, produced loads on grippers, N
In the machining, Fy′, Fx′ and Fz′ (Fz′ = 0 in the demo) are applied simultaneously and they produce components force on every gripper in x, y, z. Based on linear superposition, the components in the same direction on the same gripper can be summed up as a combined result.
Due to the cutting force components, Fx′, Fy′ and Fz′, depending on machining method, such as grinding, milling and turning, the cutting parameters, such as travelling speed, cutting depth, spindle speed and cutter geometry, when the cutting force components are available the safety coefficient can be calculated by Eq. (17) and extra FEA is not required.
4 Grinding test
Surface speed: 35 m/s
Feed speed: 1000 mm/min
Coolant: 70 bar and 120 l/min
Grinding width: 20 mm
Grinding force and safety coefficient, grinding width 20 mm
Grinding depth, mm
In the test with grinding depth of 1.0 mm, the spindle power reached the power limit and the grinding depth cannot be further increased because of the surface burning, the safety coefficient is 8.34 in the cut and the grinding process cannot challenge the work holding strength in this case clearly.
5 Conclusion and recommendations
The UV adhesive gripper can achieve a maximum tensile load capacity of 1388 N/12.97 MPa and minimum load capacity of 1113.8 N/10.41 MPa and a maximum shear load capacity of 127.3 N/1.19 MPa and minimum shear load capacity of 102.1 N/0.95 MPa, with the given adhesive specification, BlueGrip S2, curing time of 60 s and top surface diameter of 11.68 mm. The strength variation is ± 19.9% for tensile strength and ± 16.5% for shear strength.
A thicker adhesive film requires a longer curing time. The recommended curing time, 60 s, is suitable for the recommended film thickness of 1.0 mm. If the film thickness is more than 1.0 mm, the curing time should increase accordingly.
Most of the time, the adhesive gripper is rather small compared with the part size and it is not good at moment and torque application. In practice, a good gripper arrangement is required to avoid moment and torque load applied on the adhesive joint.
In application, tensile load and shear load will happen at the same time and the strength criteria can be used as combined strength limit, which is an ellipsoid with 6 vertexes, (σs0,0,0), (0, σs0,0), (0,0, σt0), (0, − σs0,0), (− σs0,0,0) and (0,0, − σc0), where σs0 is the shear strength, σt0 is the tensile strength and σc0 is the compression strength; if the compression strength is not available, the tensile strength can be used to take place of it, which will make the fixture design safer.
For specific applications, finite element analysis can be used to acquire gripper component share coefficients of the machining force for a specific part geometry and gripper arrangement.
Gripper safety coefficients can be calculated on the base of both FEA simulation and cutting force calculation to evaluate the joint strength is enough or not; the minimum allowable safety coefficient recommended is 1.5 and 2.0 for some critical application to cover strength variation and the other unexpected effects; if the yield strength is used, the allowable safety coefficient can be reduced, such as to 1.25 and 1.5.
With a good gripper arrangement, the UV adhesive work holding is strong enough for grinding and reasonably the same result can be expected for milling and turning.
Degreasing is mandatory for surface preparation. Recommended cleaning method for surface preparation is good enough for a high-quality machining surface. In some application, if the surface finish is not good, such as raw material, pressure air blow is one option to take place of tissue.
The assessment method is not limited to UV adhesive and the given gripper specification. The other adhesive and/or specification, such as thermal adhesive, can be tested with the same method. After the tensile and shear strengths and their variations have been tested, the FEA-based fixture design method can be used for most of work holding cases with various part geometries and the precondition is that the safety coefficient should be big enough to cover the variation and yield failure.
The authors would like to acknowledge the in kind contribution of NCMT on the experiments.
The research is financially supported by Catapult, project code: 152590.
- 3.Ivan G. Sears, Robin Steveson, Roland J. Menassa (2007) Magnetorheological reconfigurable clamp for a flexible manufacturing system. US7204481B2Google Scholar
- 5.Kang P, Yang H (2017) New bending system using a segmented vacuum chuck for stressed mirror polishing of thin mirrors. Curr Opt Photonics 1(6):618–625Google Scholar
- 7.Raymond Leon, Jr (1999) Adjustable magnetic jig US5971379Google Scholar
- 8.Chihung Shen, Yhutin Lin (2006) Reconfigurable magnetic fixturing pallets for an assembly line. US7055679B2Google Scholar
- 9.Clifford Stead (1967) Magnetic chucks US3336551Google Scholar
- 10.Adhesives, Glues and Sealants (2018) Adhesive Introduction. https://www.adhesiveandglue.com, (accessed 10th Nov. 2018)
- 11.DE Meter, Eward, C (2016) Method and devices to minimize work piece distortion due to adhering stresses and changes in internal stresses WO2016014482Google Scholar
- 12.Chihung Shen, Yhutin Lin (2009) Adhesive based reconfigurable pallet system for assembly lines. US 7484464B2Google Scholar
- 18.Blue Photon Technology & Workholding Systems LLC (2018) Work Holding System. https://www.bluephotongrip.com, (accessed 10th Nov. 2018)
- 19.Force Logic UK (2018) Load cell sensors. https://force-logic.co.uk, (accessed 10th Nov 2018)
- 20.Master Fluid Solutions (1998) MicroSol® Products. https://masterfluidsolutions.com, (accessed 10th Nov 2018)
Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.