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Title:
LOCATING ASSEMBLY HAVING AN EXTENDABLE CLAMPING FINGER
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2004/004977
Kind Code:
A2
Abstract:
The subject invention provides a locating assembly (10) for centering and securing a work piece. The locating assembly includes a body (16). The body defines an internal cavity (18) from the cavity to the exterior of the body. A locating pin (12) is disposed in the cavity and extends along an axis out of the opening. An actuator (54) moves the locating pin rectilinearly along the axis. A pair of fingers (60) are supported by the locating pin and move radially into and out of the locating pin, transversely to the axis. The central post moves finger simultaneous with the rectilinear movement of the locating pin.

Inventors:
HOLT DOUGLAS J
ADAMS ROBERT C JR
PAVLIK JOSEPH M (US)
Application Number:
PCT/US2003/021475
Publication Date:
January 15, 2004
Filing Date:
July 10, 2003
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
WELKER BEARING COMPANY (US)
PAVLIK JOSEPH M (US)
International Classes:
B23Q3/06; B23Q1/00; B23Q3/08; B23Q3/18; B23Q16/00; B25B5/06; B25B5/08; B27F1/00; (IPC1-7): B25B/
Foreign References:
US6102383A2000-08-15
US5845898A1998-12-08
Other References:
See also references of EP 1534471A2
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Sadowski, Jeffrey A. (P.C. Suite 101, 39400 Woodward Avenu, Bloomfield Hills MI, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS What is claimed is:
1. A locating and clamping assembly 10 comprising: a body 16 defining an internal cavity 18 and an opening 20 from said cavity 18 to the exterior of said body 16; a locating pin 12 disposed in said cavity 18 and extending along an axis A out of said opening 20 to a distal end 28; an actuator 52 for moving said locating pin 12 rectilinearly along said axis A into and out of said opening 20; , at least one finger 60 supported by said locating pin 12 adjacent said distal end 28 for movement radially into and out of said locating pin 12 transversely to said axis A of said locating pin 12; said assembly 10 characterized by a mechanism 68 for rotating in response to said rectilinear movement of said locating pin 12 for moving said finger 60 radially.
2. An assembly 10 as set forth in claim 1 wherein said mechanism 68 includes a central post 70 disposed between said actuator 52 at a first end 72 and said finger 60 at a second end 74 for rotational movement in response to said rectilinear movement and a motion converter 84 for converting rotational movement of said central post 70 to radial movement of said finger 60.
3. An assembly 10 as set forth in claim 2 wherein said finger 60 includes a slot 64 extending across the radial path of movement of said finger 60 and said converter 84 comprises said slot 64 and a dowel 86 extending axially from said second end 74 of said central post 70 and into said slot 64, said dowel 86 offset from said axis A for radially moving said finger 60 in response to rotational movement of said central post 70.
4. An assembly 10 as set forth in claim 2 further comprising a cam 90 and a cam follower 92 interconnecting said central post 70 and said body 16 for rotating said central post 70 in response to said rectilinear movement of said locating pin 12.
5. An assembly 10 as set forth in claim 4 wherein said cam 90 is defined by a cam slot 94 and said cam follower 92 comprises a cam pin 100 slidably disposed in said cam slot 94.
6. An assembly 10 as set forth in claim 5 wherein said cam follower 92 is mounted to said body 16 and said cam slot 94 is defined in said central post 70 with said cam pin 100 extending into said cam slot 94 for guiding said central post 70 as said central post 70 moves rectilinearly.
7. An assembly 10 as set forth in claim 6 wherein said cam slot 94 is defined in a first portion 96 beginning proximal to said first end 72 of said central post 70 and extending around said central post 70 toward said second end 74 to provide said rotational movement of said central post 70 and move said finger 60 radially as said cam slot 94 moves along said cam pin 100.
8. An assembly 10 as set forth in claim 7 wherein said cam slot 94 is further defined in a second portion 98 continuing from said first portion 96 distal to said first end 72 and extending axially straight toward said second end 74 to allow said central post 70 to travel rectilinearly with said finger 60 extended radially from said locating pin 12.
9. An assembly 10 as set forth in claim 8 further including a second cam slot 94 and a second cam pin 100 slidably disposed in said second cam slot 94 with said second pin being disposed on the opposite side of said axis A from said first mentioned cam pin 100.
10. An assembly 10 as set forth in claim 8 wherein said central post 70 includes a top portion 78 and a bottom portion 80 having a greater diameter than said top portion 78 to present a ledge 82 for abutting said locating pin 12 and moving said central post 70 rectilinearly as said locating pin 12 moves.
11. An assembly 10 as set forth in claim 1 wherein said locating pin 12 includes a cylindrical portion 30 adjacent said body 16 and a bulletshaped portion 32 opposite said body 16 for centering a work piece 14 on said locating pin 12.
12. An assembly 10 as set forth in claim 11 wherein said finger 60 is supported by said cylindrical portion 30 proximal to said bulletshaped portion 32 for spacing said finger 60 from said body 16.
13. An assembly as set forth in claim 12 wherein said finger 60 defines a minimal gap with said locating pin 12 to prevent foreign materials from entering into said locating pin 12.
14. An assembly 10 as set forth in claim 1 further including a second finger 60 supported by said locating pin 12 adjacent said distal end 28.
15. An assembly 10 as set forth in claim 1 further including an annular ring 42 disposed about said locating pin 12 and mounted to said body 16 for abutting a surface 48 of the work piece 14 on the locating pin 12.
16. An assembly 10 as set forth in claim 1 further including a switch 110 mounted to said body 16 for detecting a position of the locating pin 12.
17. An assembly 10 as set forth in claim 16 further including an adjustment mechanism 120 for calibrating said switch 110.
18. An assembly 10 as set forth in claim 1 wherein said locating pin 12 is comprised of a nonmagnetic stainless steel.
19. An assembly 10 as set forth in claim 16 further including a switch 124 inside of said actuator 52 for detecting a position of the locating pin 12.
20. An assembly 10 as set forth in claim 1 wherein said actuator 52 is powered by at least one of manual, electrical, pneumatic, and hydraulic power.
21. An assembly 10 as set forth in claim 20 wherein said actuator includes an internal spring that, upon failure of power, forces said finger 60 to remain extended in a clamped position against the work piece 14.
22. An assembly 10 as set forth in claim 11 wherein said locating pin 12 includes a rectangular shape with an angled portion opposite said body 16 for centering and guiding the work piece 14 along said locating pin 12.
23. An assembly 10 as set forth in claim 22 wherein said locating pin 12 includes machined flats on each side for engaging workpiece slots on the work piece 14.
24. An assembly 10 as set forth in claim 23 wherein said locating pin includes side locators mounted 90 degrees from said fingers 60 to said locating pin 12.
25. An assembly 10 as set forth in claim 15 further including said annular ring 42 to be of different diameters and lengths for abutting the surface 48 of the work piece 14 on the locating pin 12.
26. An assembly 10 as set forth in claim 15 further including said annular ring 42 comprising both hard and soft materials to prevent damage to the work piece 14.
Description:
LOCATING ASSEMBLY HAVING AN EXTENDABLE CLAMPING FINGER BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION 1. Field of the Invention [0001] The subject invention generally relates to locating pins for inserting into a work piece to position and hold the work piece. More specifically, the subject invention relates to a locating pin having an extendable finger or fingers for holding the work piece in place and for retracting into the locating pin to allow the work piece to be removed from the locating pin.

2. Description of the Prior Art [0002] Various locating assemblies are known to those skilled in the art which employ a locating pin to precisely position a work piece. These locating assemblies include an extendable clamping arm, or finger, to hold the work piece in place, as illustrated in United States Patent No. 6, 378, 855 to Sawdon et al.

[0003] The'855 patent to Sawdon et al discloses a locating assembly having a housing and a locating pin. A steel shaft inside the housing has a pair of hooks. The pair of hooks are extendable from the locating pin through a pair of vertical slots. A first dowel passes through a slot of the steel shaft and is attached to the housing. A second dowel runs through a bottom of the steel shaft. A pneumatic piston has a slot for receiving the second dowel and for controlling the steel shaft as the pneumatic piston is moved.

[0004] A clamping cycle begins when the pneumatic piston is moved in a horizontal direction, guiding the second dowel through the slot in the pneumatic piston and moving the steel shaft. As the steel shaft moves, the slot in the steel shaft moves along the first dowel, thus guiding the shaft. The first and second slots are shaped such that as the pneumatic piston is moved, the steel shaft is forced out of the locating pin and pulled in a downward vertical direction to hold the work piece with the hooks.

[0005] The locating assembly disclosed in the'855 patent, among other similar locating assemblies of the prior art, is expensive and difficult to maintain. For instance, the hook disclosed in the'855 patent, while being subjected to forces in many directions, is

prone to failure due to fatigue. Furthermore, the hooks are limited to a single path of motion, depending on a shape of the first and second slots, and thus cannot be adjusted.

This may result in too great of a clamping force being applied to the work piece, causing denting, or conversely, too little clamping force, allowing the work piece to move while being worked on. When using multiple clamping devices, clamping forces at each device may vary, resulting in clamping that is not uniform, damage to the work piece, or movement of the work piece while being worked on. The locating assemblies of the prior art also require extra time to both extend out of the locating pin and then clamp down on the work piece. The extra time cuts down on production speeds and reduces efficiency.

[0006] Thus, it would be advantageous to provide a locating assembly that may be adjusted to provide an ideal clamping force on work pieces of various thickness. It would also be advantageous to provide a locating assembly having extendable fingers that are less susceptible to failure to eliminate aspects of existing locating assemblies that require extensive maintenance, thus streamlining manufacturing operations. It would also be advantageous to provide a locating assembly capable of working faster, more efficiently, more precisely, and more uniformly by extending and retracting at least one finger from the locating pin simultaneous with a downward movement of the locating pin. It would also be advantageous for these extendable fingers to have minimal gaps around them so that no foreign materials or contamination enters and destroys the internal mechanism.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION AND ADVANTAGES [0007] The subject invention provides a locating assembly including a body. The body defines an internal cavity and an opening from the cavity to the exterior of the body. A locating pin is disposed in the cavity. The locating pin extends along an axis out of the opening to a distal end. An actuator moves the locating pin rectilinearly along the axis into and out of the opening. At least one finger is supported by the locating pin adjacent to the distal end. The finger moves radially into and out of the locating pin, transversely to the axis of the locating pin. A mechanism rotates in response to the rectilinear movement of the locating pin for moving the finger radially.

[0008] The locating assembly, through the mechanism, precisely controls the finger so that the locating assembly works faster, more efficiently, more precisely, and more uniformly by extending and retracting the finger through the locating pin simultaneous with the rectilinear movement of the locating pin. Furthermore, the locating assembly does not require extensive maintenance, thus making manufacturing operations more efficient. The locating assembly is also self compensating to provide an ideal clamping force on work pieces of various size. Thus, when multiple locating assemblies are used, each assembly is self compensating to provide a uniform clamping force on the work piece.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS [0009] Other advantages of the present invention will be readily appreciated as the same becomes better understood by reference to the following detailed description when considered in connection with the accompanying drawings wherein: [0010] Figure 1A is a perspective view of the locating assembly; [0011] Figure 1B is a perspective view of a work piece with the locating pins in the "clamped"position ; [0012] Figure 2A is a cross-sectional side view of the locating assembly; [0013] Figure 2B is an enlarged fragmentary view of a portion of Figure 2A showing the cam follower including the cam pin extending into the cam slot; [0014] Figure 3 is a side view of the locating assembly taken along line 3-3 and from the right side of Figure 2A; [0015] Figure 4 is a rear view of the locating assembly taken along line 4-4 and from the right side of Figure 3; [0016] Figure 5A is a fragmentary cross-sectional view of the locating assembly including the locating pin in an"unclamped"position and having fingers retracted inside the locating pin ; [0017] Figure 5B is a fragmentary cross-sectional view like Figure 5A but showing the locating pin in the"clamped"position and having the fingers extended from the locating pin;

[0018] Figure 6A is a sectional top view of the locating assembly taken along line 6A-6A of Figure 5A showing the fingers retracted inside the locating pin; [0019] Figure 6B is a sectional top view of the locating assembly taken along line 6B-6B of Figure 5B showing the fingers extended from the locating pin; [0020] Figure 7 is a fragmentary exploded view of the fingers, dowels, and the central post; [0021] Figure 8 is a perspective view of the locating pin including the pin mount; [0022] Figure 9 is a perspective view of the top of the central post showing the dowels and defining the cam slot; [0023] Figure 10 is a perspective view of the bottom of the central post showing the cam slot; [0024] Figure 11 is a perspective view of the body; [0025] Figure 12 is a perspective view of the piston; and [0026] Figure 13 is a perspective view of the coupler plate.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT [0027] Referring to the Figures, wherein like numerals indicate like or corresponding parts throughout the several views, a locating assembly is generally shown at 10 in Figure 1A.

The locating assembly 10 includes a locating pin 12 that, as shown in Figure 1B, positions and holds a work piece 14 so that work can be performed on the work piece 14. For example, the work piece 14 may be traveling on an assembly line to various stations, where work is performed on the work piece 14. The locating pin 12 precisely positions and holds the work piece 14 so that a person or machine performing the work may do so without the work piece 14 moving out of place. Preferably, the locating assembly 10 is located at the station. Upon arrival at the station, the work piece 14, which preferably defines a locating hole for receiving the locating pin 12, is placed on the locating assembly 10. The locating assembly 10 holds the work piece 14 with the locating pin 12 through the locating hole.

Alternatively, the locating assembly 10 may hold the work piece 14 with the locating pin 12 along an edge of the work piece 14. After completion of the work, the locating assembly 10 releases the work piece 14. Alternatively, the locating assembly 10 may move

with the assembly line to accompany the work piece 14 as the work piece 14 travels to the various stations. In the alternative scenario, the locating assembly 10 holds the work piece 14 at a beginning of the assembly line and releases the work piece 14 at an end of the assembly line. It is to be appreciated that the locating assembly 10 may be used independent of an assembly line for a variety of purposes.

[0028] The locating assembly 10 includes a body 16 for housing components of the locating assembly 10. As shown in Figure 11, the body 16 defines an internal cavity 18 and an opening 20 from the cavity 18 to the exterior of the body 16. Preferably, the body 16 further defines a second opening 22 from the cavity 18 to the exterior of the body 16.

The second opening 22 is opposite the first opening 20. Preferably, the body 16 is box shaped, but may be cylindrical, etc. The body 16 may also define a plurality of auxiliary openings 24 transverse to the cavity 18. The auxiliary openings 24 allow optional instruments and tools, such as a part stripper (not shown), part sensor (not shown), mounting braclcets (not shown) to be attached to the body 16. Additional auxiliary openings 24 may be included on another surface opposite the auxiliary openings 24 and adjacent the openings 20,22. A pair of cam holes 26 are defined in the body 16 transverse to and in communication with the cavity 18 for reasons to be discussed below. Preferably, the cam holes 26 are defined opposite each other in the body 16.

[0029] Referring to Figures 2A, 3 and 4, the locating pin 12 is disposed in the cavity 18 and extends along an axis A out of the opening 20 to a distal end 28. The locating pin 12 includes a cylindrical portion 30 adjacent to the body 16 and a bullet-shaped portion 32 opposite the body 16. The bullet-shaped portion 32 centers the work piece 14 on the locating pin 12. More specifically, the bullet-shaped portion 32 centers the locating hole in the work piece 14 to position the work piece 14 in preparation for work to be performed on the work piece 14.

[0030] The locating pin 12, shown in more detail in Figure 8, also includes a pin mount 34. The pin mount 34, among other purposes to be described below, holds the locating pin 12 to the piston 54 and prevents the locating pin 12 from being removed from the cavity 18 by abutting the body cap 36 about the opening 20. Preferably, as shown in Figure 2A, a body cap 36 is mounted to the body 16. The body cap 36 is coaxial with the opening 20

and defines a corresponding opening 38 smaller in width than the opening 20. Thus, the body cap 36 provides an annular ledge 40 overlapping the opening 20. The locating pin 12 extends out of the opening 20 and through the corresponding opening 38 in the body cap 36. The pin mount 34 abuts the body cap 36 at the annular ledge 40 to retain the locating pin 12 in the cavity 18.

[0031] Preferably, as shown in Figures 1A, 2A, 3, and 4, an annular ring 42 is disposed about the locating pin 12 and mounted to the body cap 36. More specifically, the annular ring 42 is mounted to the body cap 36 opposite to the body 16 and coaxial with the openings 20,38. Preferably, fasteners 44 connect the body cap 36 to the body 16. The fasteners 44 include D-shaped washers 46 that overlap the annular ring 42 to hold the annular ring 42 onto the body cap 36. The annular ring 42 abuts a surface 48 of the work piece 14 about the locating pin 12. The annular ring 42 may be removed, remachined, and replaced with another annular ring 42 to accommodate work pieces 14 of various thickness and contour. To remove the annular ring 42, the fasteners 44 are loosened and the D- shaped washers 46 are rotated to bring a flat portion 50 of the washers 46 adjacent to the annular ring 42 such that the washers 46 no longer overlap the annular ring 42. The annular ring 42 is removed and reworked or replaced with another annular ring 42 and is placed back on the locating assembly 10, and the washers 46 are rotated back to overlap the other annular ring 42. Through replacement of the annular ring 42, the locating assembly 10 is adjustable to provide, in combination with components described below, an ideal clamping force on work pieces 14 of various thickness and contour. Thus, when multiple locating assemblies 10 are used to hold the work piece 14, each assembly 10 may be adjusted to provide a uniform clamping force on the work piece 14.

[0032] An actuator 52, shown schematically throughout the figures, is mounted to the body 16 at the second opening 22. Preferably, an actuator mounting plate 53 is disposed between the body and the actuator for mounting the actuator to the body. The mounting plate 53 also acts as an electrical insulator to protect the actuator 52. The actuator mounting plate 53 is coaxial with the second opening 22 and defines a second corresponding opening 55 smaller in width than the second opening 22. The actuator 52 is connected to the locating pin 12 through the pin mount 34 for rectilinearly moving the

locating pin 12 along the axis A. More specifically, a piston 54 is disposed in the cavity 18. The piston 54 is connected to the pin mount 34 opposite the locating pin 12. A coupler plate 56 is also disposed in the cavity 18 and is connected to the piston 54 opposite the pin mount 34. The coupler plate 56 also acts as an electrical insulator to protect the actuator 52. A coupler 58 is connected to the actuator 52 through the second opening 22 and the second corresponding opening 55 and extends into the cavity 18. The coupler 58 is connected to the coupler plate 56 opposite the actuator 52. As shown in Figure 13, the coupler plate 56 defines a key slot 57 for receiving the coupler 58. Referring again to Figures 1A, 2A, 3, and 4, the coupler 58 is free-floating in the key slot 57. The key slot 57 aids in maintenance of the locating assembly by allowing the coupler 58 to be removed from the key slot 57, allowing the actuator 52 to be removed from the locating assembly 10. The locating pin 12, piston 54, coupler plate 56, and coupler 58 move rectilinearly along the axis A in response to the rectilinear movement provided by the actuator 52. The rectilinear movement of the actuator 52 provides a clamping force through the locating pin 12 and onto the work piece 14 to hold the work piece 14 on the locating assembly 10.

[0033] A pair of fingers 60 are supported by the locating pin 12 adjacent the distal end 28.

The two fingers 60 are disposed on opposite sides of the axis A. By supporting the fingers 60 with the locating pin 12, the fingers 60 are fatigue resistant and require little maintenance, thus streamlining manufacturing operations. Preferably, the fingers 60 are supported by the cylindrical portion 30 proximal to the bullet-shaped portion 32 for spacing the fingers 60 from the body 16. The fingers 60 are disposed in the cylindrical portion 30 because of space considerations within the locating pin 12, thus providing a minimal gap all around the fingers 60. Preferably, the fingers 60 are also disposed as close to the bullet-shaped portion 32 as possible to allow a maximum distance between the body 16 and the fingers 60. The maximum distance between the fingers 60 and the body 16 allows the locating assembly 10 to accommodate a greater range of work pieces 14 having various thicknesses than if the fingers 60 were positioned closer to the body 16.

[0034] Referring to Figure 7, the fingers 60 each include a slot 64. The slots 64 extends across the radial path of movement of the fingers 60, respectively. As shown in Figure 7, the cylindrical portion 30 of the locating pin 12 defines perforations 67. The fingers 60 are

movable radially into and out of the locating pin 12 through the perforations 67, transversely to the axis A of the locating pin 12. As shown in Figures 5A and 6A, the fingers 60 are completely retractable into the locating pin 12 so that a maximum diameter di of the locating pin 12 and the fingers 60 is equal to a diameter of the locating pin 12.

Thus, the work piece 14 may be centered on and removed from the locating pin 12 without catching on the fingers 60.

[0035] During operation, as shown in Figure 5B and 6B, the fingers 60 are moved radially out of the locating pin 12 such that a combined diameter d2 of the extended fingers 60 is greater than the diameter dl of the locating pin 12. The fingers 60 contact the work piece 14 as the locating pin 12 is moved rectilinearly toward the work piece 14. The actuator 52 provides the clamping force of the fingers 60 on the work piece 14 through the rectilinear movement of the locating pin 12. The work piece 14 is held between the fingers 60 and the annular ring 42. The locating assembly 10, by combining the radial movement of the fingers 60 through the locating pin 12 simultaneously with the rectilinear movement of the locating pin 12, works fast, efficiently, precisely, and uniformly to hold the work piece 14.

A mechanism 68, to be described in detail below, rotates in response to the rectilinear movement of the locating pin 12 to move the fingers 60 radially.

[0036] The mechanism 68 includes a central post 70 disposed between the actuator 52 at a first end 72 and the fingers 60 at a second end 74. More specifically, the central post 70 is disposed between the coupler plate 56 at the first end 72 and the fingers 60 at the second end 74. The central post 70 rests on a surface 76 of the coupler plate 56, which rectilinearly moves the central post 70 in response to the rectilinear movement of the actuator 52. The central post 70 rotates in response to the rectilinear movement. The surface 76 of the coupler plate 56 in contact with the central post 70 functions as a thrust bearing to facilitate the rotational movement of the central post 70. The central post 70 extends through and is independent from the piston 54 for separating the rotational movement of the central post 70 from the rectilinear movement of the locating pin 12. The central post 70 includes a top portion 78 and a bottom portion 80. The bottom portion 80 has a greater diameter than the top portion 78 to present a ledge 82. The ledge 82 abuts the pin mount 34. Thus, as the actuator 52 rectilinearly moves the locating pin 12 toward the

body cap 36, the pin mount 34 contacts the ledge 82 to move the central post 70 rectilinearly with the locating pin 12. As the actuator 52 moves the locating pin 12 rectilinearly away from the body 16, the coupler plate 56 moves the central post 70 along with the piston 54.

[0037] A motion converter 84 converts the rotational movement of the central post 70 into radial movement of the fingers 60. As shown in Figure 7, the converter 84 includes the slots 64 in each of the fingers 60 and dowels 86 extending axially from the second end 74 of the central post 70 and into each of the slots 64, respectively. The dowels 86 are offset from the axis A for radially moving the fingers 60 in response to rotational movement of the central post 70. It is to be understood that only one finger 60 is necessary, wherein only one dowel 86 extends into the slot 64 to radially move the finger 60.

[0038] The rotational movement of the central post 70 moves the dowels 86 along an arcuate path. As the dowels 86 move through the respective slots 64, which are straight, the dowels 86 forces the fingers 60 to move radially to maintain the slots 64 in alignment with the dowels 86. For example, as shown in Figures 6A and 6B, the dowels 86 begin at an end of the respective slots 64. The dowels 86 move along the arcuate path toward the middle of the slots 64 and move the fingers 60 radially away from the axis A to maintain the slots 64 in alignment with the dowels 86.

[0039] Referring to Figure 2B, a pair of cams 90 and corresponding cam followers 92 interconnect the central post 70 and the body 16 for rotating the central post 70 in response to the rectilinear movement of the locating pin 12. The pair of cams 90 and the corresponding cam followers 92 are disposed on opposite sides of the axis A. The pair of cams 90 and corresponding cam followers 92 stabilize the central post 70 to allow the central post 70 to rotate smoothly within the cavity 18. Preferably, the cams 90 are disposed in the central post 70 and the cam followers 92 are mounted to the body 16. As best shown in Figures 9 and 10, the cams 90 are defined by cam slots 94. The cam slots 94 are defined in first portions 96 beginning proximal to the first end 72 of the central post 70. The first portions 96 extend around the central post 70 toward the second end 74.

Preferably, the first portions 96 have a helical shape. The cam slots 94 are further defined in second portions 98 continuing from the first portions 96. The second portions 98 are

distal to the first end 72 and extend axially straight toward the second end 74.

[0040] The cam followers 92 comprise cam pins 100, which are slidably disposed in the respective cam slots 94. Preferably, the cam followers 92 are mounted to the body 16 and the cam pins 100 are inserted into the cavity 18 through the respective cam holes 26. As shown best in Figure 12, the piston 54 defines piston cam slots 27. The piston cam slots 27 allow the cam pins 100 to extend into the cavity 18 without affecting the rectilinear movement of the piston 54. The cam pins 100 extend into the respective cam slots 94 and guide the central post 70 as the central post 70 moves rectilinearly, as further described below.

[0041] During operation, the cam pins 100 begin at an end of the first portions 96 distal to the second portions 98. As the actuator 52 rectilinearly moves the locating pin 12 downward along the axis A, as shown in Figure 5B, the first portions 96 move along the cam pins 100, respectively, and rotate the central post 70 to extend the fingers 60 out of the locating pin 12. The helical shape of the first portions 96 facilitates smooth movement of the cam pins 100 through the first portions 96. The cam slots 94 continue to move along the cam pins 100, respectively, from the first portions 96 to the second portions 98. The second portions 98 move along the cam pins 100 and maintain the central post 70 in position, with the fingers 60 extended, while the central post 70 continues to rectilinearly move along the axis A with the locating pin 12 to provide the clamping force on the work piece 14.

[0042] Preferably, a switch 110 is mounted to the body 16 for detecting a position of the locating pin 12. The switch 110 includes a switch housing 112 that contains various components of the switch 110. An upper sensor 114 is maintained in a constant position within the switch housing 112. Tripping of the upper sensor 114 indicates that the locating pin 12 is in an"up"position, with the fingers 60 retracted inside the locating pin 12. The switch 110 further includes a trip screw 116 that is mounted to the coupler plate 56. The body 16 defines a switch slot 118. The trip screw 116 extends through the switch slot 118 and into the switch housing 112. More specifically, the trip screw 116 is mounted to the coupler plate 56 for tripping the upper sensor 114. An adjustment mechanism 120 allows the switch 110 to be calibrated. The adjustment mechanism 120 includes an adjustable

plate 122 that contains a lower sensor 124. To calibrate the switch 110, the work piece 14 is placed on the locating assembly 10. The locating pin 12 is rectilinearly moved toward the work piece 14 to extend the fingers 60. The fingers 60 are brought into contact with the work piece 14. The adjustable plate 122 is adjusted such that the lower sensor 124 is tripped by the trip screw 116 when the fingers 60 are in contact with the work piece 14, indicating a"clamped"position. Thus, the switch 110 indicates when the locating pin 12 is in the up or clamped position depending on the position of the trip screw 116. The up or clamped position indication, among other uses, is particularly useful on an assembly line to prevent a separate machine from performing work on the work piece 14 without an indication of the locating pin 12 in the clamped position.

[0043] Obviously, many modifications and variations of the present invention are possible in light of the above teachings. The invention may be practiced otherwise than as specifically described within the scope of the appended claims. In addition, the reference numerals in the claims are merely for convenience and are not to be read in any way as limiting.