Scanning probe technology is set to have an even more dramatic effect on the industry. Article by Renishaw.
Take a trip back in time, just a quarter of a century ago, and we’d find the automotive sector taking its first tentative steps into on-machine probing. Migration to touch-trigger probe technology went on to have a profound effect on manufacturing efficiency and productivity. Today, scanning probe technology is set to have an even more dramatic effect on the industry.
From Touching to Scanning
Traditionally speaking, touch-trigger probes have predominantly been used for part set-up. While typically only gathering a limited number of data points, they nevertheless made part setting 10 times faster than previous manual methods. Early adopters were quick to realise the advantages of collecting more data to further enhance production processes.
Gathering more data from on-machine probing quickly led to the concept of automated in-process measurement, to help control part-to-part variation. It also enabled the verification of critical features—position, diameters etc. —helping to reduce offline inspection bottlenecks.
Enter 3D scanning probe technology. For automotive manufacturers, whether they be producing combustion engine, hybrid or electric vehicles, it means new capabilities in the accurate and efficient measurement and inspection of complex forms or features—with minimal impact on machine cycle times.
The basic structure of both touch-trigger and 3D scanning probes is compared in Figure 1, respectively, illustrating Renishaw’s OMP60 and OSP60 analogue machine tool probes.
The former incorporates a spring-loaded kinematic mounting of rods and balls to hold the stylus mount. As the push-force on the stylus increases, so does the resistance measured through the kinematics’ circuit. A trigger threshold is reached and trigger signal generated.
The 3D scanning probe is built on Renishaw’s SPRINT technology. In this case, two concentric rings are employed, one fixed to the probe body, the other to the stylus mount. Continuous capacitance measurements between the ring circuits enable the position of the moving stylus tip to be accurately recorded at all times.
More Data. More Speed.
In short, depending on the number of touch-trigger points taken and the machine in question, scanning can be up to ten times faster than touch-trigger. To better quantify its data gathering and speed advantage though, consider its use in a real rough-surface application.
Developed and manufactured in North America, the SILVER Series captures highly accurate and repeatable 3D measurements of any complex surface in any location. It represents the best value for money on the market and is supported by a global team of engineers and technicians.
The SILVER series offers a versatile professional 3D scanner, with all the features that made the HandySCAN 3D scanners the reference in the industry:
Quality optics: Provides reliable and maximised scan quality with an accuracy of up to 0.030 mm (0.0015 in).
7 lasers crosses: Can quickly capture the surfaces in the entire field of view with a scan area of 275 x 250 mm (10.8 x 9.8 in).
Versatility: One device for all shapes and sizes, it masters various objects regardless of the part size, complexity, material, or color.
Plug and play: A simple user interface and real-time visualisation offers an ease of use and a short learning curve, regardless of the user’s experience or expertise level.
On the go scanning: Portable, lightweight and quick to set up, it can be up and running in less than 2 minutes, either in-house or on site.
Available in 2 models: Customers can choose from two models based on their business needs -HandySCAN 307 at US $19,990 or the HandySCAN 700 at US $29,900.
“For the professionals who need to adapt quickly to their customers’ needs and provide better answers to their inquiries, a reliable 3D scanning solution is indispensable,” explains Simon Côté, Product Manager at Creaform.
“The possibilities presented by gathering such precise data can open doors to new projects and strengthen the partnerships with existing clients. It cannot be overstated how 3D scanning and 3D printing technologies have become vital for any small-to-medium sized company.”
Here’s how one company was able to scan large and very heavy parts from all four sides and from above, without having to laboriously move the piece. Article by ZEISS.
When a robot grasps a cylinder block weighing 50 kilos and approaches a saw or milling cutter, any vibration or sliding motion must be avoided. But deviations from target production data make it difficult for the robots to grasp. August Mössner GmbH & Co. KG, which manufactures specialised machinery for the foundry and aluminium industries along with saws for the widest possible variety of materials as well as equipment for the dismantling of nuclear power stations, has found a solution for this problem. As well as tailor-made manipulators for robots manufactured with the aid of the ZEISS T SCAN, the programming of the equipment is optimised with flexible laser scanning.
Christian Kunz (right) and Christian Haase inspect the grippers of a robot. They are to hold heavy motor castings to the processing stations later on, which protrude from the wall on the right.
The two robot arms rigidly stretch their necks into the air, their movements appear frozen. One of them holds a cylinder block in suspension, weighing at least 50 kilos. Only in a few weeks’ time, when the entire plant has been completed, will they start moving and saw off disturbing feeder and sprue systems and mill off casting flashes on engine blocks coming from a foundry. To do this, they heave the parts to saws and milling machines that protrude from the wall and look like giant dentist drills.
Here at August Mössner in Eschach is not where they will be put to work, however, but rather at engine plants of well-known automobile manufacturers. The processing stations are designed and put into trial operation at August Mössner, which has a reputation in the automotive industry for delivering automated production lines with dozens of robots on schedule and perfectly functional.
Deviations of Several Millimetres
Christian Kunz is the Head of Robotics, R&D, at August Mössner. His team plays an important role when it comes to deviations. The 20 employees of his robotics, research and development department are responsible for planning the precise, safe and efficient operation of the processing lines.
But the devil is in the details. One of these details are the contour parts with which the robots grip the cylinder block. They are as small as a hockey puck, but must be able to grip the casting precisely and hold it in position during processing, against the forces that occur. For this purpose, the contour parts have recesses that fit exactly over the bulges of the castings. However, this is initially not the case.
Kunz holds a contour part to the rough casting of a gearbox-housing, at the point where the robot is later to pick up the component. But no matter how the mechatronic engineer turns and tilts the fitting, the parts do not fit together. “When car manufacturers send us castings, they often deviate from the target design by a few millimetres,” explains Kunz.
This is no wonder, since most of them are so-called start-up parts for new engine types.
The tolerances are still large when series production starts and are not shown in the CAD models of the castings. Kunz and his team have found a solution in which ZEISS T-SCAN is of central importance. Using a hand-held laser scanner, the engineers measure the surface contour of the casting—for example, of an engine block or a transmission housing—and compare the data set generated by this with the target CAD data supplied by the car manufacturer. On the one hand, this serves to document the actual state and on the other hand, the measurement is the basis for adapting the contour parts to the casting and for subsequent programming of the robot. In this way, the engineers can quickly see where there are deviations and can immediately initiate reworking of the contour parts. The contour part is reworked by hand, then scanned and can thus be documented and converted into CAD data.
In this article, Guillaume Bull discusses the insights that led to the development of Creaform’s latest optical CMM scanner.
Operator scanning an industrial mold directly on the shop floor.
Over the last few years, manufacturing companies have seen their time to market expedited due to intensified competition on the global scale. In addition, the parts and assemblies that they produce are now more complex than ever.
On the one hand, they face pressure to accelerate their workflows. On the other hand, they must meet quality standards that are constantly rising. Creaform is fully aware that today’s manufacturers are facing tremendous challenges. They know that product quality issues impact scrap rate, production ramp-up, production rate, and downtime, ultimately affecting production costs and overall profitability. Consequently, Creaform’s product development team started on their task, with their clients’ issues and needs in mind.
The objective was to develop the ideal 3D scanner that could be integrated seamlessly into any quality control (QC), quality assurance (QA), first article inspection (FAI), maintenance, repair and operation (MRO), or reverse engineering workflow, and operated by users of any skill level in any type of environment—including the production floor.
Creaform wanted to offer production and quality professionals an alternative solution to the coordinate measuring machine (CMM), where parts are usually brought for FAI and QC. By doing so, non-critical inspections could be relocated and even performed right on the production floor to offload the CMM and keep it available for inspection of crucial dimensions. Creaform also wanted to develop a tool more suited for QA, since quality issues can come from multiple parts, all with different sizes, shapes, and surface finishes. Creaform’s engineers had definitely a lot on their plate.
Faster, More Accurate, and More Versatile Portable 3D Scanner
Creaform’s engineers kept these objectives and challenges in mind when they developed the MetraSCAN BLACK. They were determined to take dimensional measurement speed, accuracy, and versatility to a whole new level.
Now featuring 15 blue laser crosses, which can take up to 1,800,000 measurements per second, the new metrology-grade 3D scanner offers a larger scanning area and accelerated scanning time. Such a measurement speed—4X faster than the previous version—ensures an optimized acquisition time and data processing rate in order to provide users with instant meshing. In short, the measurement workflow from setup to real-time scans and ready-to-use files has never been faster.
Creaform has released its latest version of the MetraSCAN 3D lineup, the company’s advanced optical CMM scanner designed specifically to perform metrology-grade 3D measurements and inspections. As the fastest and most accurate portable optical CMM scanner, the MetraSCAN BLACK can be seamlessly integrated in any quality control, quality assurance, inspection, MRO, or reverse engineering workflow and operated by users of any skill level in any type of environment.
The MetraSCAN BLACK dimensional metrology system has been developed to measure complex parts and assemblies from an array of industries and manufacturing processes, such as automobile, aeronautics, power generation, heavy industry, metal casting, metal forging, sheet metal, plastic injection, composites, etc.
Featuring unmatched performance and speed for optimized 3D measurements
4X faster: Featuring 15 blue laser crosses for larger scanning area that take up to 1,800,000 measurements per second and live meshing, ultimately cutting down the time between acquisition and workable files.
4X resolution: MetraSCAN BLACK features a measurement resolution of 0.025 mm (0.0009 in) to generate highly detailed scans of any object.
More accurate and traceable measurements: High accuracy of 0.025mm, based on VDI/VDE 2634 part 3 standard and tested in a ISO 17025 accredited laboratory, ensures complete reliability and full traceability to international standards.
Shop floor accuracy: The MetraSCAN BLACK features a unique and patented dynamic referencing that compensates for surroundings instabilities.
Maximum versatility: Masters complex, shiny and highly detailed parts
No warm-up time: Operators can be up-and-running in minutes.
Touch probing capability: When paired with the HandyPROBE, the MetraSCAN BLACK lets users harness the power of both 3D scanning and probing for a complete, streamlined inspection process.
Available in BLACK and BLACK|Elite: Customers can choose from two models based on their needs: speed, part complexity, accuracy, etc.
“Today’s manufacturers are facing tremendous challenges. They are under increased pressure to accelerate their time to market in order to remain competitive on the global scale. Product quality issues impact scrap rate, production ramp-up, production rate, and downtime, ultimately affecting production costs and overall profitability. Manufacturers need to rely on innovative 3D measurement technologies, like the MetraSCAN 3D, in order to refine their product development and quality control processes,” explained Guillaume Bull, Product Manager at Creaform.
“This new version of the MetraSCAN 3D takes dimensional measurement speed, accuracy and versatility to a whole new level. We believe manufacturers will appreciate its performance within their workflows.”
Digitalisation and measurement made it possible to modify mould inserts and allow them to be exchanged, thus avoiding downtime for this manufacturer. Article by GOM.
Triple Scan Principle. (Image source: Lometec)
In the past, measurement service provider Lometec had ‘merely’ conducted some workpiece first-sampling for one of its customers, a well-known medium-sized plastics processor. But when an urgently needed, brand-new tool suddenly failed, the metrologists moved out on a special mission: Delivering overnight service, they digitalised the mould tools using GOM scanning systems so that precise, rapid reworking was possible. The impending default on delivery was averted.
Lometec’s customer produces, among other things, thermoplastic weather-proof housings designed for use in extreme climates. When the quantities in demand began exceeding the existing tool’s capacities, the company commissioned construction of a second, identical tool—and that’s where the trouble began.
Tool Failure After Passing First Sampling
At first, everything was looking hunky-dory: The new tool was delivered and worked just fine, as verified by Lometec as part of first sampling of the housing. The 3D measurement service sampled 125 parts and recorded the results in the initial sample test report (ISTR). Process capability was validated and the plastics processor was able to produce with two tools at once, doubling output as desired.
But shortly after starting mass production with the second tool, it proved prone to faults: Sliders and inserts began seizing. The tool manufacturer responded promptly to the complaints and supplied spare parts—but these did not match precisely, making it impossible to simply exchange them, never mind swapping over the sliders and inserts between the two tools.
The Solution: Scan and Rework—ASAP
This gave the plastics processor the idea to have Lometec digitalise and measure the 14 affected mould inserts and sliders. The measuring data would then be used to rework the imprecise spare parts.
Lometec Managing Director Jörg Werkmeister remembers, “Our job was to compare the old inserts with the new ones and return all of the inserts to the company again as quickly as possible, so they’d be able to keep on producing with one tool at least. Having both tools measured was naturally stopping production completely.”
No sooner said than done: being specialists for rapid optical 3D measurement, Lometec was confident they had what it took. The measurement service maintains two fully climatised measuring rooms and uses measuring equipment by renowned German manufacturers, including three GOM systems for full-field digitalisation of technical mould halves.
“We set up the 3D scanning lab completely from scratch in 2016, it’s absolutely state-of-the-art,” Werkmeister says. “Our trio of ATOS Triple Scan, ATOS Core and ATOS ScanPort means we’re excellently equipped for a diverse range of digitalisation jobs.”
Investing in GOM technology had been very good decision, Werkmeister goes on to say. “The measuring data the systems supply are outstanding.”
To meet the demand for promptness, two metrologists tackled the plastics processor’s job in tandem: one working with ATOS Triple Scan, the other with ATOS Core.
Before conducting the measurements, the metrologists cleaned the sliders and inserts, removing residues such as grease and the like. Next, they applied high-precision reference point markers. These ensure that the software joins the separate scanned images correctly.
“For digitalisation, we chose really small increments,” says Werkmeister. This achieved high detail resolution.
Find out how MBFZ toolcraft ensures holistic quality control and precision in additive manufacturing. Article by ZEISS
Frederik Mack, Materials Engineer at toolcraft, examines a test specimen under the ZEISS Axio Imager microscope, which he sawed out of a 3D-printed part and ground.
Additive manufacturing is an uncharted territory for many companies, but not for MBFZ toolcraft GmbH. The company in Georgensgmünd, Southern Germany, manufactures high-end precision parts for the aerospace, automotive, medical technology and semiconductor industries, among others, and since 2011 also parts using 3D printing. The young established production technology is a challenge for quality assurance. Toolcraft is mastering this challenge with ZEISS 3D ManuFACT, the only solution on the market for continuous quality assurance in additive manufacturing.
Heat, noise, the smell of oil: They belong to industrial manufacturing like Yin to Yang. Yet this is quite different in the glass hall at toolcraft in Georgensgmünd. Anyone who has access to the area with their employee ID card hears nothing. They smell nothing either. There are few reminders of factory life as we have known it for a hundred years, because parts are not manufactured the way they have been for a hundred years. Instead of peeling the mold out of cast or forged metal blocks by drilling, milling and turning, additive manufacturing comes at the process from the other way.
Through small windows on the twelve 3D printing machines at toolcraft, you can watch glistening laser beams dancing over a wafer-thin layer of metal powder. Where the spot of light hits, the powder melts in a flash and immediately solidifies again, followed by the next layer. Thousands of hair-thin layers are used in 3D laser melting to create „impossible“ components that could never be produced with traditional subtractive manufacturing. Whereas ten years ago only prototypes and design studies were produced by using additive manufacturing, manufacturers of aircraft turbines, racing cars or medical equipment are increasingly incorporating them directly into their series products.
Challenges for Quality Assurance
As always, when a new technology emerges in a market, there are always questions. One of them is quality assurance. Jens Heyder points to a monitor that shows two images taken with the ZEISS Axio Imager light microscope at 50x magnification. On the left you can see a section of a good component. There are no large defects visible, only small pores. The material has an even, homogeneous structure. On the right, there is a cross cut shown, in which blowholes and welding defects are present. The construction process here was not optimal, which is why errors occurred during solidification of the melt.
“Crack formation could occur under high loads,” warned Heyder, who has been working as a material engineer in toolcraft’s materials laboratory for three years. Together with his colleagues, he checks the grain size distribution of the metal powder used. They help to optimize the manufacturing process in such a way that no defects occur in the part during melting and solidification.
However, the materials laboratory is only one component in the seamless quality assurance at toolcraft. Each process step is followed by a test: when a part comes out of the printer, after heat treatment and finally after milling into the final form, before the part is sent to the customer. Not every part is inspected. Random samples are taken according to customer requirements where typical parts only undergo a final inspection. For more demanding customer requirements, such as the aviation industry, 100 percent inspection and precision is required.
But one thing is for sure: when a part is inspected, it is done on a machine with the ZEISS logo. These can be found in several places in measuring rooms and in production at the company: two microscopes (ZEISS Axio Imager and ZEISS Axio Zoom.V16), several coordinate measuring machines (two ZEISS ACCURA, one ZEISS CONTURA and one ZEISS DuraMax) as well as an optical 3D scanner. Although the latter bears the GOM logo, the company also belongs to the ZEISS family since spring 2019.
What is the most accurate way to check if a measuring tool works within its specifications? Guillaume Bull, product manager at Creaform, explains in this article.
When replacing old measuring equipment, it is common to validate that both the old device and the new device measure the same data and provide quality control (QC) with the same results. To do this, correlation tests are performed.
To facilitate and speed up the work, it is tempting to test a regularly manufactured part. After all, its specifications are well known. However, this choice of part may lead to a false diagnosis and an incorrect conclusion regarding the accuracy of the new measuring device.
Therefore, the most accurate way to check if a measuring tool works within its specifications is to use a calibrated artefact for which measurements have been previously validated and the data is traceable.
Using a common artefact for the old device and the new device helps to minimize the variables that can influence the correlation tests. Among these variables, which will induce measurement differences, are the extraction methods that are different from one technology to another, the alignment methods that are rarely the same, software that does not process or calculate data in the same way, the setups that are generally different depending on the technologies, and the environment that, if not maintained exactly the same, will greatly influence the measurements.
Using a calibrated and traceable artefact enables operators to validate that both devices work within their specifications. As a result, if the measurements taken on this calibrated artefact give the right value, we will know for sure that the measuring devices work properly.
A manufacturing company working in the automotive industry wants to replace its CMM with a 3D scanner. In order to validate the new equipment, a correlation test is performed between the two devices—the old and the new. When the two measurements are compared, there is a difference; the instruments do not correlate with each other. Why? Should we not get the same measurement on both instruments? What is causing this difference? Since we know that the old equipment has been accurate historically, should we conclude that the new equipment has an accuracy issue?
When testing for correlations between two types of equipment (i.e., comparing the measurements obtained on the same part with two instruments), there are many variables that can induce errors in the measurements. These variables include extraction and alignment methods, software calculation, setup, and environment.
We measure the same part, but we do not extract the same points with one measuring tool as we do with the other tool. The consequence is a difference in measurement due to the imperfection of the geometry of the part. Indeed, when we probe a surface plan by taking a point at the four corners, this method does not consider the surface defaults of the plan. Conversely, if we scan this plan, we measure the entire surface and get the flatness. Therefore, if the surface has a slight curve, the scanned plan might be misaligned compared to the probed plan. Thus, there will be a difference in measurement between the two methods.
We measure the same part, but we use two different methods of alignment. The consequence is a slight difference in the alignment method, which can lead, due to leverage, to large deviations at the other end of the part. Even if the same method of alignment is used, as mentioned above, a difference in the extraction method of the features used in the alignment can lead to a misalignment of the part. The positioning values are based on the alignment, which must not differ from one instrument to another, neither in the construction method, nor in the way it is measured.
We measure the same part, but we use different software that does not use the same algorithms for data processing. The consequence is a difference in the calculation of a feature from the software, even though the measured data is the same. The more complex the construction of the measurement is, the more likely it is to have deviations between calculations.
We measure the same part, but we do not have the same setup on both instruments. The consequence is different measurements of this same part. For example, a part of large dimensions is measured on a CMM. The marble on which the part is placed has an excellent flatness (30 microns). The same part is then measured with a 3D scanning system. But the surface on which the part is put has a different flatness (800 microns). As a result, the part twists and deforms slightly when placed on the second marble. Although the same part is measured, the two setups give different measurements because the support surfaces have different degrees of flatness.
We measure the same part but under different conditions. The consequence is a difference in the measurements. Indeed, if we measure an aluminium part of one meter on a CMM at an ambient temperature of 20 deg C and we measure the exact same part at 25 deg C, then the difference in temperature will result in a lengthening of the part by 115 microns at 25 deg C.
It is crucial for quality control to minimize these different variables that could lead to correlation errors. The easiest way is to use, on both instruments, a common artefact for which measurements have been previously validated and the data is traceable.
Artefacts have the distinguishing characteristics of being calibrated and traceable. All features have been previously measured and verified in a laboratory, eliminating any doubt and uncertainty regarding measurements.
A value commonly obtained with a traditional measuring instrument is not a reference value that can be relied upon 100%. The reason for this is that equipment is not an artefact. There is always uncertainty associated with any measuring instrument. Therefore, the verification, validation, or qualification of a measuring instrument cannot be done with any part for which dimensions have not been previously validated.
The only way to certify that a measuring tool works within its specifications is to compare it with an artefact whose dimensions are calibrated in a known laboratory. Only an artefact makes it possible to correlate measurements between equipment because only an artefact can subtract all the variables that could interfere with the measurement. Thanks to an artefact, there is no doubt; the equipment measures accurately.
If two devices get the same measurement with an artefact, but do not correlate on a specific part, then the difference is not attributable to the instruments. Rather, it will result from measurement processes that will need to be checked and scrutinized further to obtain the desired measurement.
Here’s a look at the development path of the world’s first direct scanning laser tracker. Article by Joel Martin, Hexagon Geosystems.
Manufacturing innovations have often been the driving force behind new developments in the field of metrology—the science of measurement. New combinations of hardware and software are allowing engineers to solve problems in new ways that simply weren’t possible before.
In the late 1990s, technological advancements delivered a new device known as the laser tracker, which has gone on to establish itself as a worldwide standard for large-scale alignment and verification tasks. A laser tracker is a portable coordinate measurement machine (PCMM) that uses a laser beam to accurately measure and inspect the features of an object in 3D space. This beam is sent to a spherically mounted retro-reflector touching the object to measure two angles and a distance, thus calculating its position and defining it with an X, Y, Z coordinate.
Laser trackers were quick to find their home in large-scale manufacturing, largely because no other measurement solution could accomplish such tasks. They allowed engineers to perform wing-to-body alignments or even tooling verification faster and more accurately than ever before. But the first generation of laser trackers had their own special issues, such as when line of sight between the laser tracker and the reflector was interrupted and the operator would have to walk the steel sphere back to a home position to pick up the laser beam from the tracker.
This limitation reduced operator efficiency, and consequently cost money, especially if the reflector was being tracked from a distance of some 20m away. While workarounds were available, it was not uncommon to see the connection interrupted repeatedly if there were physical obstacles in the work area such a workers or cables.
The solution to this issue was first provided by Hexagon in 20XX when the PowerLock feature was first introduced to their Absolute Tracker range of laser trackers. However, laser trackers still required the skilled hand of a well-trained operator to deliver reliable results.
A Breakthrough Driven by Automotive
The next great development in the history of laser tracker systems came after a major automotive OEM challenged several metrology leaders to design a system that could track a handheld device capable of non-contact scanning a surface around an area the size of a car with tracker-like accuracy.
Although it wasn’t immediately met, this challenge was behind the introduction of the first large-volume wireless probe, which worked like a “walk around CMM” by allowing the operator to use its common stylus to measure a part in a way similar to using a CMM or portable measuring arm.
This breakthrough was made possible by the introduction of a new type of laser tracker that, rather than simple 3D measurement, could measure with “six degrees of freedom”. These “6DoF” laser trackers, the first of which was the landmark Leica Absolute Tracker AT901, were capable of measuring not just a single point, but an orientation around that point about a full six axes.
Most importantly, from a productivity standpoint, this new device allowed the measurement of hidden points within recesses, or simply points on the back side of the measurement object, without repositioning the laser tracker.
Early benchmarks showed that this new probing capability could provide an increase in throughput of up to 80 percent over traditional reflector measurement. This technology created such a dramatic shift in the way objects were measured that the reflector—the very tool that had until now been key to the functionality of the laser tracker—ended up being used far less often for measurement tasks.
The idea of surface digitisation with a laser tracker is nothing new; an operator in 1995 could be seen dragging a reflector over the surface of an aerostructure to create a simple point cloud. But the introduction of the 6DoF tracker opened up the possibility to take this a giant leap further.
But laser tracker based large-volume scanning has accelerated over the past six years. An example is a laser scanner with extreme speed that is tracked by a laser tracker and attached to a commercial of-the-shelf robot. This scanner-tracker integration effectively turns a standard robot into a very accurate shop floor measuring machine.
This fundamental shift in measuring from physically touching a part to measure it to “just scanning it” has allowed manufacturers to completely rethink their metrology workflows and equipment.
At around the same time that 6DoF probing and scanning was changing the workflows and typical applications of laser trackers, 3D terrestrial laser scanning was beginning to find its first applications in large scale manufacturing. This high-speed LIDAR scanning technology was originally deployed for geospatial land surveying, allowing an operator to collect millions of points very quickly in the course of capturing the surface of buildings or the surrounding landscape.
On the other end of the spectrum, there are handheld scanners with an ultra large stand-off area of up to three feet with a scan line of over two feet wide that captures huge amounts of data very rapidly. Other contemporary scanners allow the operator to measure objects the size of an average car from a single station (position) in less than 30 minutes. The need to scan very large objects quickly with metrology-grade accuracies has driven different manufacturers to integrate their laser trackers to several different scanners. In addition to the hand scanners described above, there are also examples of structured light scanners located by laser tracker, as well as terrestrial laser scanners using laser trackers to control their global accuracies.
The Industrialisation of Terrestrial Measurement
Laser trackers have the inherent ability to hold very tight tolerances over very large distances. This important feature renders the marriage of laser trackers and terrestrial laser scanners as a natural progression. Terrestrial laser scanners can measure millions of points very quickly, but it can be a challenge to register these point clouds together while maintaining metrology grade accuracies. It is exactly this need that lead the industry to another advancement in laser tracker technology—a scanning absolute distance meter that pushes laser trackers into the next level of usability. A scanning ADM that measures at an internal rate of over one million points per second is now integrated in a new line of laser trackers. The technology can register submillimetre noncontact surface scans with metrology grade SMR laser tracker measurements—all within a single battery powered IP54 sensor for factory floor usage or remote outdoor applications. This new product line effectively bridges the gap between laser trackers and lidar scanners.
Looking to the Future
Manufacturing has changed dramatically since that aerospace engineer was tasked with aligning the wings to the fuselage of the 747 more than 50 years ago. The modern airplanes replacing this legendary gem require an increasing amount of data-driven processes with an even higher level of precision was achievable before. In the past, some level of misalignment in the aerostructure could simply be “trimmed out” during flight testing, but today that equates to inefficiencies of the aircraft. To reach the fuel efficiency requirements of the burgeoning aerospace industry, new inspection processes and technology must continue to advance.
I have been involved with laser trackers since the early days and witnessed the evolution of this solution as it has grown and matured at a consistent rate. It has been amazing to watch some of the smartest minds in metrology push the power and usage envelope on this technology, considering its humble roots. Today, laser trackers are utilized in almost every type of large-scale manufacturing from aerospace to power generation. The emerging trend towards noncontact scanning is pioneering another giant leap for a technology that seems to have no limits.
Creaform has added the ACADEMIA 50 3D scanner to its ACADEMIA educational solution suite. This professional-grade, portable 3D scanner is the ideal solution for teachers looking to show students the benefit of handheld 3D scanners and their use in real-life applications, such as reverse engineering, industrial design and quality control.
Easy to set up and use by teachers and students of all levels, ACADEMIA 50 uses structured white light technology to scan objects made of any material, surface type or colour. Its technical specifications highlight its performance levels, with an accuracy of up to 0.250 mm (0.010 in) and a measurement resolution of up to 0.250 mm (0.010 in).
ACADEMIA 3D scanners are part of a turnkey educational solution that includes: 50 free seats of scan-to-CAD and inspection software to show students how to address any conventional or innovative engineering workflow, five-year ACADEMIA Customer Care Plan and self-training documentation. Creaform offers teachers a free Creaform ACADEMIA Sample Kit that gives academics didactic material to enhance their curricula.
“This latest addition to our ACADEMIA educational solution suite attests to Creaform’s commitment to the educational sector by offering the designers and engineers of tomorrow the tools they need to help them excel in their careers,” said François Leclerc, Marketing Program Manager at Creaform. “We offer a complete education solution that does not sacrifice on quality or performance — all at a cost the educational institutions can afford.”