A fixture is a work-holding or support device used in the manufacturing industry. Fixtures are used to securely locate (position in a specific location or orientation) and support the work, ensuring that all parts produced using the fixture will maintain conformity and interchangeability. Using a fixture improves the economy of production by allowing smooth operation and quick transition from part to part, reducing the requirement for skilled labor by simplifying how workpieces are mounted, and increasing conformity across a production run.
A fixture's primary purpose is to create a secure mounting point for a workpiece, allowing for support during operation and increased accuracy, precision, reliability, and interchangeability in the finished parts. It also serves to reduce working time by allowing quick set-up, and by smoothing the transition from part to part. It frequently reduces the complexity of a process, allowing for unskilled workers to perform it and effectively transferring the skill of the tool maker to the unskilled worker. Fixtures also allow for a higher degree of operator safety by reducing the concentration and effort required to hold a piece steady.
Economically speaking the most valuable function of a fixture is to reduce labor costs. Without a fixture, operating a machine or process may require two or more operators; using a fixture can eliminate one of the operators by securing the workpiece.