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The Importance Of A Calibrated And Traceable Artefact

The Importance of a Calibrated and Traceable Artefact

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.

READ: Quality Assurance Brings New Confidence

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.

Scenario

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?

READ: Optimising Aerospace Parts Manufacturing

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.

Extraction Methods

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.

Alignment 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.

Software Computation

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.

READ: A Guide to Machining Better Castings Through Optical Metrology

Setup

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.

Environment

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.

Common Artefact

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.

READ: Creaform Launches 3D Scanning Solution Suite for the Aerospace Industry

Conclusion

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.

 

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Quality Assurance Brings New Confidence

Quality Assurance Brings New Confidence

Here is why it is critical to incor­porate advanced quality inspection equipment into your manufacturing processes. Article by ZEISS.

Figure 3: VAST XXT sensor measuring magnesium housing assembly for passenger door.

The manufacturing industry has changed dramatically in the last 40 years. Jamco Aerospace Inc. recognised these changes and realised how critical it is to incor­porate advanced quality inspection equipment into their manufacturing processes to stay competitive. They use two scanning CMMs (coordinate measuring machines) from Carl Zeiss Industrial Metrology (IMT) to ensure the precision of these processes ev­ery step of the way.

Jamco Aerospace is a manufacturer of complex, structural components typically used in the aerospace industry. Ninety-five percent of their orders come from the aerospace industry, with the remain­ing five percent coming from the ground transportation industry. The company is a full-service machining and airframe sub-assembly facility. Some of their larger customers include Northrop Grumman, Boeing, Spirit AeroSystems, and the US government.

READ: The E-Mobility Roadmap: Speeding Up Tool Development With A High-Accuracy CMM

In 2006 Jamco decided they needed more efficient quality inspection equipment to stay competitive in their industry and to comply with their recent ISO 9001/AS 9100, Rev. B certifications that require significant process documentation. Their touch-trigger CMM and manual gauges were no longer effective and the CMM’s software had also presented some pro­gramming challenges. They needed a new CMM that was comparable in size to their previous CMM but with better measuring technology.

“I have been involved in this business for over 40 years and the manufacturing base in the US has grown increasingly smaller and more competitive,” says Dr. Jack Lee, CEO of Jamco. “The scanning inspection technology is spreading fast and I believe the key is to improve quality throughout the entire manufacturing process, oth­erwise the final inspection is completely worthless.”

Technical Specification Fulfilled

Ronald Lee measuring main landing gear rib on the MMZ 20/50/15.

After an in-depth review, Jamco decided that a Carl Zeiss CONTURA G2 10/21/6 VAST XXT RDS with scanning technology was the best fit for their inspections. The CONTURA G2 10/21/6 is robust and the right size for their parts. The VAST XXT RDS articulating probe is designed for measur­ing small features and lots of angles, and can reach 20,736 positions in 2.5 degree increments. The scanning technology al­lows them to get much more informa­tion in a shorter amount of time than with their previous touch-trigger CMM, a feature that brings down manufacturing costs by improving efficiency.

READ: Driving the Next Industrial Revolution

Typical parts for Jamco are structural bulk­heads or fittings used in aircraft which they measure on the CONTURA G2 for in-process and final inspection. Parts are inspected on the CMM after any initial finishing processes, before moving on to turning or milling processes followed by a second inspection. A final inspection is done after all processes or assembly are completed. The increased efficiency re­sulted in more orders over the years al­though most of their parts require 100 percent inspection. As the number of parts and orders grew, the company knew it would need an additional CMM.

They liked the CONTURA system with the VAST XXT RDS articulating probe but wanted a larger machine to more effi­ciently handle larger aerospace parts such as bulkheads, longerons, ribs, webs and frames, while keeping the same CALYPSO software and ZEISS quality. In 2011 they purchased a large gantry CMM, an MMZ 20/50/15 which could not only measure larger parts, but also large lot sizes of smaller parts.

READ: Making the Most of CMM Assets

Jamco appreciates the simplicity and user-friendliness of CALYPSO software. “Once  you know what to look for it is pretty straight forward,” says Ronald Lee, Quality Control Manager at Jamco. “If an operator is unsure how to set up a part, the soft­ware shows multiple part views to make the process easier. And programming from CAD models with CALYPSO is a lot easier due to the integrated assistant that helps you select the measuring references so there is no difficult code or text editing. This allows you to spend more time mea­suring than programming, unlike with our previous metrology software.”

Increased Efficiency

The ZEISS systems have helped Jamco gain more customers with their improved quality inspection accuracy and efficiency. The CMMs also allow them reach their targeted tolerances that are all within 5 ten-thousandths of an inch. Their touch-trigger CMM collected about 100 points in 2 to 3 hours while the ZEISS scanning CMMs gather about 1000 points in just 1 to 2 minutes. Jamco currently measures approximately 30 parts a day. Typical parts are around 12 inches long and have a number of critical features requiring 30- 40 minute inspection programs. Efficiency is also increased because operators can multi-task while inspections are running. For larger orders of about 40 parts, they like to use the AutoRun feature so entire lots of parts can be inspected automati­cally.

READ: Achieving Perfect Gaps And Joints

The ZEISS systems have given Jamco the confidence in their ability to do more in­spections and projects, and to measure bigger parts. The ZEISS MMZ machine effectively handles the larger parts, but it also inspects a pallet of smaller parts at once instead of having to do a series of measurements. “Quality assurance throughout all of our manufacturing pro­cesses has brought new confidence to us and our customers,” states Dr. Lee.

 

 

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Making The Most Of CMM Assets

Making the Most of CMM Assets

Real-time data analysis is playing an increasingly critical role in improving overall productivity and manufacturing competitiveness. Here’s how the metalworking sector, through advances in metrology solutions, can create a smarter manufacturing environment that is simple to manage and deploy. Article by Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence.

In today’s business climate, it is of paramount importance to reach consistently high levels of productivity, quality and cost-effectiveness.

For this reason, metalworking companies are harnessing new data-driven technologies to enhance and automate their design, production and inspection processes. And the change is taking place beyond sectors that are traditionally highly sensitive to quality, such as aerospace and automotive.

As today’s coordinate measuring machines (CMM) and their associated sensors and software become much faster and more sophisticated at collecting and exchanging accurate inspection data, real-time data analysis is playing an increasingly critical role in improving overall productivity and manufacturing competitiveness.

Many manufacturers have already equipped their CMMs with multisensor technology that allows them to perform contact and optical non-contact inspection interchangeably, while quickly and efficiently capturing data that can be checked for accuracy against original CAD data.

Measurement data collection and analysis is supported by the Q-DAS statistical analysis software, which can be used to visualise measurement data in real-time and monitor them statistically. Q-DAS’s statistical process control (SPC) function systematically informs the CMM operator of any violations of SPC alarm criteria, enabling operators to take corrective action in the manufacturing process before generating expensive scrap. At the same time the software’s high flexibility allows users to adapt the recording and visualisation of data to specific tasks.

Using Real-time Analysis to Improve Performance

But now, manufacturers are going a step further to increase their productivity by addressing the challenges of improving machine utilisation, throughput and uptime. This is leading them to adopt asset management solutions, such as the HxGN SFx Asset Management software, to monitor the status of one or several CMMs in real-time. The growing use of asset management software is partly due to greater automation, which requires operators and managers to keep a close check on the performance of unattended machines. By using asset management to efficiently monitor the status of CMMs remotely, manufacturers can maximise machine usage.

Asset management can help the metalworking sector raise productivity across multiple applications, such as the measurement of rotor or stator lamination stacks. Rotor or stator lamination stacks are composed of individual electrical steel laminations and are typically inspected in pallets using image-processing (vision) sensors. Hexagon’s OPTIV multisensor and optical CMMs come equipped with a vision sensor as a standard and are commonly used to simplify the measurement of large or palletised flat parts such as rotor or stator laminations close to the shop floor. Equipped with handle workpiece palletising, the Hexagon OPTIV enables a fast and automated inspection process, even for large batches of small serial parts such as clutch discs and fine-blanked parts.

Because speed and accuracy are of the essence when inspecting rotor or stator lamination stacks, operators often need to manage multiple CMMs that are running pallet measurement routines unattended.

The OPTIV’s extended measurement range enables prepared interchangeable pallets to be supplied semi-automatically by a palletising robot, reducing standstill times and increasing inspection throughput.

Hexagon’s Inspect software, meanwhile, makes it simple for operators to set up one pallet and then prepare and launch the next on a separate CMM. Asset management software offers a simple dashboard view of machine availability, which allows operators to save additional time by identifying which CMM has spare capacity.

The right asset management tool also helps manufacturers optimise maintenance schedules and plan for a more efficient use of manufacturing resources. As a result, quality departments can shift from managing assets as a cost centre to creating value by optimising equipment profitability.

If, for example, a manufacturer needs to increase production to fulfil new orders for a customer, information from asset management systems makes it easy to identify where spare inspection capacity lies either locally or at another site.

Raising Your Equipment’s Overall Effectiveness

Successful asset management, however, depends on having instant access to actionable insights. Notifications about the performance and status of metrology assets, for example, need to be available in real-time. And all alerts should be readily customisable so that operators and managers receive the information that is pertinent to their role and in a format that is easy to access, understand and use.

For this reason, Hexagon has ensured its HxGN SFx Asset Management platform provides a simple, accurate way to monitor and analyse how key assets are performing via a centralised, user-friendly dashboard. It works equally well whether the machines being monitored are on a single site or in multiple factories around the world. And in addition to a having a dashboard view of each CMM’s uptime and downtime, it’s possible for operators to see how each machine is being used, all while working remotely on a mobile phone or a PC.

Having real-time insight into CMM performance not only enables operators and managers to schedule work efficiently and respond immediately to operator errors. They can also use data analysis to understand and manage the productivity of their assets over the long term and to calculate overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) either for a single CMM or for several CMMs, across multiple sites and over various periods of time. OEE is calculated using data for quality, which is based on a CMM’s success in completing measurement processes during the scheduled time, performance and availability. Gaining a thorough understanding of a CMM’s OEE makes it easier for manufacturers to reduce spending on maintenance while achieving better overall performance and efficiency.

Getting the Right Data with Versatile, Multisensor Systems

Any analysis is only as good as the data it relies on, which is why Hexagon is investing in ensuring all its systems deliver accurate, real-time, relevant data to where it is most needed. The HxGN SFx Asset Management solution is an important part of this strategy, but it is not the only element.

When it comes to inspection, the choice of CMM, sensors and supporting software for a given application clearly plays a pivotal role in determining the quality and quantity of data that manufacturers gather, and at what speed.

Multisensor CMMs have grown popular because of their versatility when capturing data at the varying levels of detail and speed required by different applications and materials.

Having the Vision to Improve Processes

Vision sensors remain a key inspection tool in the metalworking sector because they are adept at quickly and automatically measuring large volumes of intricate metal parts. Designed to capture surface detail swiftly, vision systems are particularly useful when dealing with high production rates.

A vision sensor with a high-resolution digital CMOS colour camera and a programmable motorised zoom lens, for example, can offer variable illumination in the form of a coaxial LED top light, LED back light and multi-segment LED ring light to provide high contrast illumination of complex surfaces and edges, all while quickly capturing data that informs the entire manufacturing process. Hexagon further enhanced vision sensor speed and performances when it launched a Large Field Of View vision sensor for its OPTIV CMMs. The new vision sensor provided a field of view that is approximately four times larger than the standard vision sensor on today’s OPTIV CMMs.

When it comes to using multisensor systems to measure metal workpieces, Hexagon’s OPTIV Dual Z helps increases batch measurement throughput by enabling optical and tactile sensors operating in restricted measuring volumes to automatically reach more measuring positions within a single measurement cycle.

Whether a manufacturer’s applications best suit a vision sensor, a laser sensor or a touch probe, Hexagon is focused on providing data-based solutions that easily integrate with existing and future systems to create a smarter manufacturing environment that is simple to manage and deploy.

 

 

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Hexagon Launches Entry-Level Optical CMM For The Asia-Pacific Region

Hexagon Launches Entry-Level Optical CMM For The Asia-Pacific Region

Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division has launched Captura, an entry-level optical coordinate measuring machine (CMM) that offers an intuitive and cost-effective solution for multisensor measurement of small to medium parts.

Captura supports measurements using vision sensors, laser sensors and confocal sensors, and is designed to offer good price to performance ratio for the entry-level market. The basic machine is supplied with a vision sensor and can be expanded with additional sensors. The dynamic machine concept offers high positioning accuracy, fast measuring point acquisition, and high-performance vision capturing. Captura CMMs run the Metus metrology software, a Hexagon-developed package for 2.5D multisensor measurement. Metus has its roots Hexagon’s flagship PC-DMIS metrology software, and delivers the highest standard of precision measurement in an easy-to-use software package.

“Multisensor and optical CMMs are ideal for manufacturers who are working with very small or fragile parts, or with materials that can’t be measured with touch probes – for example in the electronics sector,” said Kah Khoon Goh, Business Development Director Asia-Pacific.

“As manufacturing in the Asia-Pacific region diversifies, we’re seeing more manufacturers selecting this kind of system. Together with the user-friendly Metus software, Captura has been designed to meet the specific requirements of entry-level users without compromising on overall performance.”

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Optimising Aerospace Parts Manufacturing

Optimising Aerospace Parts Manufacturing

How does the aerospace industry manage to optimise its manufacturing processes and produce more parts of the highest quality in less time? Simon Côté, product manager at Creaform, explains.

The aerospace industry is known for manufacturing parts with critical dimensions and tight tolerances, all of which must undergo high-demanding inspections. Given the scale of the controls to be carried out on these parts, it is hardly surprising that quality people prefer to turn to coordinate measuring machines (CMMs). After all, this highly accurate measuring instrument has their full confidence.

However, directing all inspections to the CMM may cause other non-negligible problems: CMMs are hyper-loaded, generating bottlenecks during inspections, slowing down the manufacturing processes, and causing production and delivery delays.

Is it possible to unload the CMMs so that they are fully available for the final quality controls? How can we improve manufacturing processes to produce more parts faster and, above all, of better quality? And in the event of a quality issue occurring during production, is it possible to identify the root cause more quickly in order to minimise the delays that could impact schedules and production deliveries?

This article aims to explain how important players in the aerospace industry have managed to unload their CMMs and improve their manufacturing processes without ever neglecting the quality of parts with critical dimensions and tight tolerances, such as castings, gears, pump covers, stators, and bearing housings. Solutions developed by the aerospace industry can serve as a guide for other industries because, after all, the entire industrial sector aims to optimise its manufacturing processes and produce more parts of better quality in less time.

Challenges

Bottlenecks at the CMMs

Aerospace companies, and many other industries, require that manufactured parts be inspected with the CMM, because they have full confidence in the accuracy of its measurements. This exclusive trust, however, creates certain challenges.

Indeed, the CMM is a highly accurate metrology tool that is often used to inspect non-critical dimensions, leaving little availability for final inspections and important dimensions. Therefore, quality controls are delayed due to these bottlenecks at the CMMs. Moreover, the CMM is a measuring instrument that requires a specialised workforce to build and execute the programming. If the company does not have the human resources to do the inspection programs, the parts will accumulate as they wait to be inspected. Therefore, buying more CMMs will not solve the bottleneck issue; what is needed is the specialised manpower to operate them.

But that is not easy to find these days.

Quality problem detected at the end of the manufacturing process

Too often, manufacturing companies wait until the end of the manufacturing process to perform quality controls on manufactured parts. Moreover, not only critical dimensions are inspected at the CMM, but also all other dimensions, which lengthens the process, often resulting in delivery delays.

So, what happens if a quality problem is detected only at the end of the manufacturing process? The quality assurance team must then go through the whole process to investigate and find the root cause. This analysis may generate downtime and production delays, which will impact the part delivery and customer satisfaction.

Solution

Incorporate an alternative measurement method to detect quality problems faster

Rather than inspecting all dimensions at the CMM, which requires long programming time and involves qualified resources, the aerospace industry uses a faster and simpler alternative measurement method to inspect less critical dimensions. One example of this alternative method is a metrology-grade 3D scanner called the HandySCAN BLACK.

The HandySCAN BLACK 3D scanner excels due to its scan quality, accuracy, and measurement reliability. Certified to ISO 17025 and compliant with the German standard VDI/VDE 2634 Part 3, the accuracy of the HandySCAN BLACK is 25μm. Using a safety factor of 5x, for instance (i.e., five times more accurate than the smallest tolerance to be measured), the aerospace industry uses the HandySCAN BLACK for inspecting features with tolerances starting at 125μm (5x 25μm) or more.

With its 11 blue laser crosses, combined with new high-resolution cameras and custom optical components, the HandySCAN BLACK can perform up to 1,300,000 measurements per second in addition to generating an automatic and instant mesh. This means that, unlike a cloud file, the generated mesh is already lightened and processed, which reduces the need for data filtering and lessens the variability on data processing. Thus, the aerospace industry regains the same confidence it has in the CMM, because the data obtained with the HandySCAN BLACK are consistent and repeatable.

Moreover, since the HandySCAN BLACK is a portable device, it can be moved to any stage of the manufacturing process to perform an intermediate check without having to move parts. For example, it allows a pump to be inspected before machining to ensure that there is enough material and after machining to validate that the dimensions are accurate. The HandySCAN BLACK can also be used to check the dimensions of gears before and after their heat treatment. Only a portable metrology tool enables quality and production teams to perform these intermediate checks quickly and easily during the manufacturing process.

Benefits

Unload the CMMs for the final quality controls

CMMs will always be the preferred measuring instruments for final inspections. However, these highly accurate devices must be available to perform the final quality controls. In other words, they must not be loaded down by all kinds of intermediate controls during the manufacturing process or by various investigations while troubleshooting production issues.

This is precisely what the HandySCAN BLACK is doing for the aerospace industry: unloading the CMMs by diverting less critical inspections to an alternative measurement tool. An in-house survey quantified that 50 percent to 90 percent of the dimensions could be measured with the scanner, allowing the CMMs to be available and used to their full potential and full accuracy for critical dimensions with tighter tolerances.

Improve manufacturing process

The more the parts are inspected during their manufacturing process, the less tedious the final inspection will be. Indeed, if the parts—whether pumps, gears, or casting—have already been inspected before and after their machining and before and after their heat treatment, the risk of detecting unexpected problems is lessened.

The final inspection on the CMM, now widely available, will only serve to control the critical dimensions, as all other features will have already been validated during the manufacturing process. These intermediate checks, performed during production, not only accelerate the manufacturing process, but also improve the quality of parts while producing parts in higher quantity. The same in-house survey quantified that intermediate checks with the HandySCAN BLACK improved the manufacturing process by 30 percent, either by producing 30 percent more parts during the same production time or producing the same number of parts 30 percent more quickly.

Find the root cause in quality assurance

Finally, the HandySCAN BLACK helps identify the root cause of quality issues that arise during production. Since it is accurate, fast, and portable, it can find the source of problems faster in order to minimise delays that could impact schedules and production deliveries.

Conclusion

The aerospace industry values the CMM for quality controls because of its high accuracy and repeatability. However, aerospace companies agree that the performance of portable scanners, such as the HandySCAN BLACK, positions this alternative method as a must to optimise its manufacturing processes. This fast, portable, metrology-grade measurement tool is increasingly proving itself to be an indispensable tool for performing quality controls during the manufacturing process in order to unload the CMMs and detect problems more quickly.

 

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The E-Mobility Roadmap: Speeding Up Tool Development With A High-Accuracy CMM

The E-Mobility Roadmap: Speeding Up Tool Development With A High-Accuracy CMM

The time saved on measurements helps MAPAL Dr. Kress KG develop innovative tool solutions even more quickly for trends that will play such a pivotal role in the future. Contributed by Carl Zeiss Pte Ltd.

These days, employees from the development department at MAPAL Dr. Kress KG generally know within an hour if new tools will offer the level of precision their customers require. Instead of having to wait days for a service provider to deliver the measurement results, the company started performing onsite measurements at the beginning of 2018.

With the high-precision coordinate measuring machine (CMM) ZEISS PRISMO ultra, MAPAL inspects the workpieces machined with the new tools it manufactures. The time saved on measurements helps this global company develop innovative tool solutions even more quickly for trends that will play such a pivotal role in the future like e-mobility.

With the high precision coordinate measuring machine ZEISS PRISMO ultra, MAPAL inspects in-house the workpieces machined with the new tools it manufactures and generally gets results within one hour.

With the high precision coordinate measuring machine ZEISS PRISMO ultra, MAPAL inspects in-house the workpieces machined with the new tools it manufactures and generally gets results within one hour.

How a Workpiece Ensures a Precise Tool

“We need extremely exact measurement results to develop high-precision, innovative tools and tool solutions,” says Dr. Dirk Sellmer, vice president of R&D at MAPAL. For years, the company had an external service provider measure its workpieces and tools. Seller compares MAPAL’s tools to “Lego blocks that are combined to create complex solutions.” To deliver these bespoke products to the customers more quickly, the company invested in an extremely precise CMM from ZEISS.

In January 2018, two employees began working with the ZEISS PRISMO ultra. Almost a year later, Sellmer has reached the conclusion, “The investment has paid off.” The measuring machine provided MAPAL with the necessary precision and was immediately running at full capacity. The two employees from the development department, who alternate between the measuring system and the production machines every two weeks, inspect the department’s tools on the CMM.

Most importantly, however, MAPAL employees measure workpieces that are machined in the development area with the company’s own tools, thereby determining the workpieces’ precision and stability under manufacturing conditions. Precision is on everyone’s mind because most MAPAL tools and tool solutions are used when components need to be machined with a very high level of accuracy.

The stator housing for an electric motor is one example of how MAPAL is successfully meeting its customers’ requirements. The challenge with this cast part is to create the primary, large-diameter borehole that runs through the entire component—all with an accuracy of just a few microns. For perpendicularity, the tolerance is just 30 microns (0.03mm) and, for coaxiality, 50 microns.

The Right Tool for Stator Housings

These are extremely narrow tolerances for such large boreholes. Yet, a closer look at the design of the electric motor illustrates why these stringent requirements are necessary. Take for example the permanent magnet synchronous motor, the most frequently used motor design in new energy vehicles (NEVs). The stator is the stationary component within the motor. Coils or copper wires known as hairpins are attached. These generate a current that creates a rotating magnetic field. The rotor is located within the stator and, thanks to its own constant magnetic field, follows the magnetic field of the stator. The three-phase current of the rotor causes it to rotate in synch with the magnetic field.

The rotor cannot move unless there is a gap between it and the stator. However, the rotor is subject to considerable magnetic resistance, which in turn reduces the magnetic flux density and with it the power of the motor. Thus, designers make this gap as narrow as possible.

To ensure that the manufacturing process does not compromise the component’s design, MAPAL offers its customers a high-precision tool which is also very light for its size.

First, a borehole is made in the cylinder for the stator housing. This means that a tool approximately 30cm long creates a hole in the outer die-cast layer of the housing. Then, the surface is carefully ground down. Tools for the highly precise machining of primary boreholes for stator housings have been part of MAPAL’s product portfolio for one-and-a-half years. And since not all housings are identical, these tools are customised for each customer.

On-site Measurements for Reduced Wait Times

Automotive manufacturers generally provide 10 to 30 housings that MAPAL must then machine with the corresponding tools in its testing area. The measurements performed after multiple rounds of machining serve as the basis for optimising the highly complex tool solutions in line with the customer’s needs.

Before purchasing their own CMM, MAPAL had an external service provider measure its workpieces and tools. However, the company’s measuring expenses rose significantly within the span of just 10 years. MAPAL increasingly manufactures the tools for its customers and takes on pre-series production. Numerous measurements are performed to ensure that the customer has all the information they require. The need for more measurements also increased outlay.

Yet as the company considered whether or not to invest in a CMM, it was not the costs that ultimately tilted the balance, but time.

“We used to have to wait two to three days for measuring results. This is no longer the case,” explains Sellmer. Now, these are generally available within an hour.

Since the employees performing measurements at MAPAL have also received metrology training, there are fewer artefacts. “Since our team also works with the machines used in production, they have a highly developed intuition and know, for example, where contaminants might have impacted the measurement result,” says Sellmer.

Moreover, the components are now clamped in the machining fixtures for measurements and measured on the company’s premises. This reduces potential artefacts caused by removing the workpieces from the fixtures or preclamping them. Another significant benefit for MAPAL is the ability to intermittently perform unplanned measurements, such as with thin-walled components like a stator housing. This way, the company can see how fixturing impacts machining.

Dr. Sellmer highlights yet another key advantage: the improved communication between engineers and technicians. They can now discuss the results at the measuring machine, rather than relying solely on measurement reports. And this promotes knowledge sharing. “We now achieve our goals significantly faster,” concludes Sellmer.

 

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Tackling Shop Floor Inspection Challenges

Tackling Shop Floor Inspection Challenges

Here’s how Wenzel’s SF 87 shop floor CMM helps improve quality and productivity at Ferratec GmbH. Article by Wenzel Group.

Since 1989, Ferratec GmbH has stood for quality and reliability in the fields of tool and mould making and plastics technology. The company offers complete solutions from a single source—from the conception and development of tools to sample parts and series production readiness, through to the assembly of the finished components. The range of activities includes mould construction for the company’s own plastic injection moulding shop as well as tool construction for special machines, jigs and fixtures, cutting tools, series production, assembly and contract manufacturing.

To guarantee the highest quality standards, Ferratec constantly invests in new technologies, including in the area of quality control. One of the latest acquisitions by the company for its workshop is the SF 87 coordinate measuring machine (CMM) from Wenzel Group. Featuring a large measuring volume, a small footprint and a wide operating temperature range, the SF 87 meets all the requirements for successful measurements in the direct production environment.

Wenzel’s SF 87 CMM is a universal measuring machine for the production environment. It requires little floor space and offers an optimized measuring volume of 800x700x700mm—making it ideal for a large part of the metal cutting and forming industry.

Featuring high measuring volumes, Wenzel’s SF 87 CMM has a compact design with a small footprint and is flexible and mobile for use in the workshop.

More Efficient Measuring And Testing Process

The machine concept offers a very good price-performance ratio with low space requirements. Its high traversing speeds and accelerations ensure high productivity. The combination of powerful probes and optical sensors also leads to a considerable increase in efficiency in the measuring and testing process.

According to René Kunkel, product manager for CMM at Wenzel, the system’s measuring volume is three times that of competing products with comparable footprints. “Further increases in efficiency can be achieved by using more powerful probes and optical sensors,” he adds.

The Wenzel SF 87 can also be operated at temperatures of up to 30 deg C. In contrast, conventional CMMs can only operate at up to 20 deg C—making them unsuitable for use in production halls. At Ferratec, the SF 87 is primarily used for the evaluation of dimensional accuracy and shape and position tolerances of plastic parts from a wide variety of areas.

SF 87’s bionic structure and unique low centre of gravity design make it efficient, ergonomic, productive, and insensitive to shop floor vibrations. In addition, it is multi-sensor capable and supports both optical and Renishaw tactile sensors. This includes the PH10MQ PLUS, which can be equipped with extensions and SP25M analogue scanning probes. SF 87 can also be configured with a tool-change rack to switch probes and extensions automatically, without requiring time-consuming requalification.

Another notable benefit of SF 87 is that it uses an active damping system and does not need air bearing technology, which eliminates the need for expensive clean air. Additionally, it can operate using only a 230V power supply.

“In order to be able to guarantee our customers’ quality products, we manufacture almost all tools ourselves. It doesn’t matter whether you want single pieces or small series. The measurement solutions from Wenzel contribute to product quality, productivity and satisfied customers,” said Kunkel.

The decision for this measuring solution was easy. “We have been working successfully for many years with Wenzel, using its LH series of bridge measuring device,” explains Gerhard Rosenberger, head of QS at Ferratec. The high quality of the Wenzel products, and the fast and good service, convinced him.

Wenzel complements its strong product offering with an optional comprehensive service package, wherein customers receive up to 60 months of maintenance, calibration, and inspection, as well as preventative replacement of worn parts, insurance machine coverage, exchange service, and online support.

Supporting Seamless Integration into Automation Solutions

While the LH series is in the measuring room for precision measurements, the SF 87 is integrated into the machine tool workflow. “The SF 87 stands in a typical shop floor environment with direct sunlight, for which it was designed,” reports Kunkel. In the next step, automated assembly and an initial visual check by optical sensors are planned.

The SF 87 is a directly usable production line and automation solution, and it can be integrated through the optional WENZEL Automation Interface (WAI) for material handling without expanding its footprint. The accessibility of the measuring volume from three sides is optimal for automated assembly by robots and can be flexibly adapted for more complex tasks, according to Kunkel. The ability to seamlessly integrate into automation solutions was also a key factor in Frost & Sullivan awarding the SF 87 its 2018 Global New Product Innovation Award last March.

 

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Why CMMs Are Manufacturing’s Evolutionary Winners

Why CMMs Are Manufacturing’s Evolutionary Winners

The advent of new, high-performance measuring technologies could have posed an existential threat; but instead, the CMM has proven its resilience and remains key to metalworking manufacturers’ long-term strategies. Article by Sea Chia Hui, Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence.

The DEA TORO CMMs can be employed as metrology stations in the development and engineering departments for supporting industrial design of complex contoured shapes, as well as flexible gages for process control in a shop environment.

For more than 40 years, the accuracy of coordinate measuring machines (CMMs) has guaranteed them a central role in metalworking companies’ quality control processes. The advent of new, high-performance measuring technologies could have posed an existential threat. But instead, the CMM has proven its resilience and remains key to metalworking manufacturers’ long-term strategies. This is because rather than replacing CMMs, new measuring technologies are complementing their strengths as quality control capabilities expand across the production cycle.

Adapting to Accelerated Evolution

A whole gamut of machines from smartphones and cars through to PCs have benefited from rapid technology advances that include lower cost of processing, higher performance software, and faster network connectivity. CMMs are no exception. But what makes CMMs different is their unique robustness and adaptability. A sizeable number of CMMs in use today have been in operation in excess of 20 years, kept up to date by retrofitting software and sensor systems.

At the heart of the CMM’s longevity are its unparalleled accuracy and durability, combined with an ability to be upgraded for new applications and working methods. Unlike many other machines, there is no need to replace a CMM in order to gain access to new functionalities. Manufacturers simply change a CMM’s controllers, software or sensors, while keeping their principal investment intact for years.

Increased Versatility and Cost-Effectiveness

Recent advances in measuring software, sensors and data analysis systems have played a crucial role in transforming the ease-of-use of CMMs, opening them up to new applications while increasing their measurement throughput.

One of the consistent benefits of a CMM has been its ability to provide 2-D touch probe-based measurement of unparalleled accuracy, precision and repeatability. But today’s metalworking companies often want to combine the accuracy of a 2-D probe sensor with the fast 3-D data capture offered by optical sensors.

Contactless measurement, for example, makes sense for sheet metal parts where throughput and speed of measurement are of the essence, or for metal parts on which a probe would leave an undesired mark. And because laser scanners can be used to create solid models from surface profiles, they are the ideal tool for reverse engineering and rapid prototyping.

Improvements in multisensor systems mean CMMs are ideally placed to support both tactile and 3D non-contact measurement. Crucially, manufacturers are able to opt for CMM software and machine controllers that enable seamless transfers between different non-contact or tactile sensors within a single inspection program. This enables a CMM to automatically switch between different sensors to capture a full metrological report even for complex parts.

And because software systems can be programmed to instruct the CMM to automatically change over sensors, multisensor systems can be left to run untended, whether they’re using touch trigger, optical, chromatic white light, laser point, or laser line sensors. The supporting software also makes it easy to create a graphical analysis of the captured CMM measuring data and overlay it on three-dimensional CAD models to compare the real data with the nominal data. This visual representation makes anomalies easy to identify, allowing operators to take decisions quickly on the shop floor.

And since the advent of intuitive software systems and greater levels of automation have made CMMs simpler to operate accurately, their use has been opened up to a wider range of employee skill sets and levels of experience.

Dealing with the Task in Hand

Not every application will need the same software package—much will depend on parts to be inspected and the complexity of their geometry, and the extent to which manufacturers want to analyse captured data and use it to inform their design, engineering, and production processes.

Similar factors shape the choice of a CMM, which is determined by the volumes of the workpieces to be measured, the tolerances required, and the desired throughput speed. Gantry CMMs, for example, continue to be a popular choice in the automotive, shipbuilding, and aerospace industries, because they are designed to accommodate the measurement of very large sheet metal parts. And they can be adapted to meet different accuracy and productivity requirements.

Parts such as aeroblades or car powertrain gears, for example, need to attain very tight tolerances, which requires the use of high precision CMMs. In contrast, the manufacturers of car bodies or aircraft fuselage are likely to seek a CMM optimised for throughput rather than precision.

When it comes to smaller parts, manufacturers in the metalworking industry have a choice of bridge CMMs that again provide differing levels of throughput, accuracy and flexibility, depending on the application need. Manufacturers can also consider gaining productivity benefits by installing CMMs on the shop floor.

As we have seen, the CMM’s versatility is at the root of its ongoing success, offering manufacturers the possibility to closely match a CMM’s measuring capabilities with their application needs. Whether a manufacturer is looking for an entry-level CMM or the most accurate measuring machine on the market, with the right supplier they can be confident of deploying a cost-effective CMM solution that future proofs their business for years to come.

 

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Hexagon Simplifies Horizontal Arm CMM Retrofitting

Hexagon Simplifies Horizontal Arm CMM Retrofitting

With the DEA MERCURY FX solution, Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division has simplified the retrofitting of horizontal arm coordinate measuring machine (CMM), enabling automotive and other large part manufacturers to adopt smarter, more automated manufacturing practices while reusing their existing horizontal arm CMM guideway assets. Hexagon’s DEA MERCURY FX meets customers’ demands to combine the accuracy of horizontal arm CMMs with technology advances, such as automation and multisensor capabilities, so they can switch easily between tactile probe and non-contact measurement while capturing data that helps them improve manufacturing processes.

To help manufacturers shift to smarter working more quickly, Hexagon’s DEA MERCURY FX allows them to upgrade to the latest metrology tools and software features, while reusing their existing base tables, even if it is not a Hexagon system. Eliminating the need to replace base tables from a wide range of suppliers minimises disruption and downtime. DEA MERCURY FX is also available as a new standalone horizontal arm CMM solution for manufacturers.

“The horizontal arm CMM’s accuracy means many manufacturers want it to be part of their future automation strategy. By designing the DEA MERCURY FX for installation on existing base tables, Hexagon helps manufacturers upgrade to a horizontal arm CMM that supports features such as multisensor capabilities and the latest metrology software,” said Paolo De Bortoli, product line director, Horizontal Arm CMMs. “The move reflects our strategy to help manufacturers maximise the use of their existing metrology assets as they adopt new technologies that make their factories smarter and more productive.”

The DEA MERCURY FX is a multisensor horizontal arm CMM that supports both tactile and non-contact scanning. It enables OEMs and suppliers in the automotive, aerospace, defence and railway sectors, as well as manufacturers of large mechanical parts and earth moving machinery to continue to benefit from the precision of horizontal arm CMMs while adopting new, more automated and smarter metrology software and tools.

 

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Hexagon To Showcase Digital Transformation Of Aerospace Manufacturing At Paris Air Show 2019

Hexagon To Showcase Digital Transformation Of Aerospace Manufacturing At Paris Air Show 2019

Hexagon will demonstrate how it is innovating to meet the fast-evolving needs of the aerospace and defence industries with a range of connected software and hardware systems at the Paris Air Show 2019, which is being held on June 17–23.

Visitors to the aerospace exhibition will see first-hand how discrete software and hardware solutions from Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division connect to form tool chains that lay the foundations for data-driven aerospace manufacturing ecosystems. On Hexagon’s stand, a continuous digital process, using digital twin and equipment monitoring technology, will show the development of an aeroengine blade from the design and engineering stages, through production, to the final quality inspection of the finished blade by the GLOBAL S HTA CMM solution.

Hexagon’s software and hardware systems underpin aerospace manufacturing at every level of design, production and final assembly on all sizes of parts and types of aircraft. They also support aircraft maintenance repair and overhaul. A Leica Absolute Tracker ATS600 on the stand will display the benefit of using large-volume 3D measurement for large structural assembly.

At the Paris Air Show, there will also be an opportunity to see Hexagon’s Geospatial division’s demonstration of a 3D flight training simulator based on Luciad technology. It combines static flight plans and dynamic aeronautical data, and provides real-time and post-training feedback and evaluation of any deviations from the designated flight plan and the disruptions that might cause.

Hexagon will be on hall 2B, stand D157.

 

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