This article discusses how to guarantee that manufactured parts correspond to the production requirements. Article by Creaform.
At the beginning of a manufacturing process, a mould, die, or jig is engineered according to the theoretical CAD model. The aim of this tooling, made precisely from the nominal model, is to produce parts that correspond to the technical requirements. It turns out, however, that there are often differences between the theoretical model and the reality of an industrial environment. Different phenomena interfere with the tooling, causing problems and imperfections on the parts. Adjustments and iterations, therefore, are required to ensure that the tools and moulds, even if they correspond exactly to their nominal models, produce good parts that meet quality controls and customer demands.
Challenges: Non-Predictable Phenomena
The reality of an industrial environment differs from the theory illustrated in CAD models. During the manufacturing process, several phenomena that are difficult to predict can occur. Spring backs when stamping a die, shrinkage when building a mould made of composite material, or thermal forces when welding two elements together are all good examples of phenomena that impact tooling precision. Nevertheless, modelling the removal of a composite resin, the spring back of a die, the impact of a weld remains difficult, complex, and expensive.
Initially, the tooling is built according to the theoretical model, which is developed to create manufactured parts that meet the production requirements. But, in the reality of the industry, the aforementioned phenomena interfere with the moulded or stamped parts. As a result, the parts do not meet the technical demands and must be adjusted, corrected, and altered in order to pass the quality controls.
Starting with nominal models is, of course, a good first step, but let’s not forget that what manufacturers want is not so much a perfect tooling, but good parts that meet technical requirements and customer needs.
Solution: Iterative Process
When unpredictable phenomena alter manufactured parts, an iterative process of quality control starts. The most commonly used method is to work on the part before adjusting the tooling. More precisely, this method involves producing a part, measuring it, and analysing deviations between the part and the CAD model. Hence, if we notice that there are some missing (or extra) mms in one place, we will go to the corresponding surface on the mould, die, or jig in order to grind or add material. Thus, the iteration is performed on the tooling after measuring the manufactured part.
Once this operation completed, we restart the manufacturing process in order to produce a new part that will be measured to verify if there are any remaining deviations. This iterative process will continue on a loop until we obtain the desired part (i.e., when the manufactured part corresponds to its CAD model).
Creaform has installed a second robot-controlled measuring system at Walter Automobiltechnik GmbH (WAT) in Berlin, Germany. WAT is a system supplier of metal assemblies for the automotive industry. It focuses on complex welded assemblies such as motorcycle frames and engine mounts, with a great deal of its work including motorcycle frames, torsion struts and more for the BMW Group.
WAT recently landed the contract for development and series production of the engine mount for BMW’s new fully electric Mini Cooper SE. When the company needed to measure the vehicle’s complex tubular space frame, the decision fell on the MetraSCAN 3D-R, a powerful robot-mounted optical scanner that is Creaform’s automated quality control solution.
The WAT team uses MetraSCAN 3D-R for fully automated measurement of the complex tubular space frames with many connection points for peripheral equipment. 90 percent of the features were such that they could not be reworked, and they would immediately have caused the production line to stop if they were not made exactly to specification. Due to the high-temperature galvanizing required, the process required that many of these features had to be manually reworked. This means that qualitative safeguarding of the finished parts had to be conducted by carrying out 100 percent of the measurement of the series production within a given cycle time. A measurement report and 3D scan had to be saved for each frame, for traceability purposes.
Tommy Laukdrej, Head of Quality Assurance at WAT explained this: “We use two automated measuring cells with handling robots from Panasonic and the Creaform system, which consists of the MetraSCAN 3D-R scanner, the C-Track optical camera system, and the VXelements scanning software. We chose Polyworks from Duwe3d as the measurement evaluation software, because we have been using this software with success and complete satisfaction for over 10 years.”
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Creaform has released HandySCAN AEROPACK, a 3D scanning solution suite that addresses the specific challenges of aircraft quality control, such as assessing damage from hailstorms or aircraft incidents as well as flap and spoiler inspections. The HandySCAN AEROPACK can also be used for reverse engineering, maintenance and repair operations, and designing hard-to-acquire spare parts.
The HandySCAN AEROPACK solution includes: HandySCAN 3D, a metrology-grade, portable 3D scanner designed to acquire accurate, repeatable and reliable measurements—even in difficult environments, such as aircraft hangers or shop floors, and with both complex surfaces and parts of all sizes; SmartDENT 3D, an aircraft surface inspection software for assessing aircraft flaps, spoilers, fuselage, etc.; VXinspect, a dimensional inspection software module for quality control workflows and inspection reports; and VXmodel, a post-treatment software module to finalize and further process 3D scan data in any CAD solution.
Intuitive and easy to use by operators of any skill level, Creaform’s HandySCAN AEROPACK makes quality control and reverse engineering processes very efficient by reducing user impact on measurement results and accelerating generation time for final reports or CAD designs. Featuring unmatched performance, HandySCAN AEROPACK never compromises on diagnosis results or safety.
HandySCAN 3D is listed in the Airbus Technical Equipment Manual, which is referenced in its Structure Repair Manual. It is also part of Boeing’s Service Letter, meaning it can be used for recording physical attributes of aircraft dents of all Boeing commercial airplanes.
“The aerospace industry is facing increasing challenges due to manufacturers’ accelerated innovation, stricter regulatory standards, heightened concerns for passenger safety, mounting costs of grounded aircraft, and profitability targets,” explained Jérôme-Alexandre Lavoie, Product Manager at Creaform. “Because the HandySCAN AEROPACK package was developed with these challenges in mind, aircraft and MRO companies can tackle them head on with our solution suite.”
Creaform has expanded its presence in Europe with the appointment of two distributors, EMS in Belgium, and Measurement Solutions LDT in the UK, which will be demonstrating and selling CUBE-R, a powerful and turnkey automated inspection solution that enables manufacturers to efficiently and accurately detect assembly issues during production and improve product quality.
Creaform’s CUBE-R features MetraSCAN 3D-R, a powerful robot-mounted optical 3D scanner that can be integrated into factory automation systems and eliminates bottlenecks at the traditional coordinate measuring machine (CMM).
Shop-floor-ready and designed specifically for hard manufacturing environments, CUBE-R can perform hundreds of part inspections—including on complex, shiny or textured surfaces—in a single day. It speeds up production cycles, all while ensuring the highest product quality possible.
Manufacturers in the UK can discover CUBE-R’s tremendous potential since June. The scanning coordinate measuring machine for at-line inspection is available for benchmarking, testing or scanning parts. In Belgium, CUBE-R is now available for on-site demonstrations.
“CUBE-R is an Automated Quality Control (AQC) solution that fits perfectly with Industry 4.0 initiatives. We want to demonstrate our ability to integrate AQC seamlessly alongside Metrolg i-Robot. It is the perfect solution to harness the power of optical 3D measurement and industrial automation as well as optimize production cycle and throughput,” explained Andrew Tagg, Managing Director at Measurement Solutions.
Mario Cupelli, Chief Executive Officer at EMS, agrees. “CUBE-R will allow us to expand our 3D scanning offering with a high-end, robotized solution. With our new demo centre, we will broaden our services to address customer needs in the aerospace, automotive and manufacturing sectors,” he said.
Creaform has moved to AMETEK’s new offices in Singapore near Changi International Airport for easy access for both international and local customers in the APAC region.
Featuring state-of-the-art facilities, including a modern showroom to present the brand-new HandySCAN BLACK, the company’s metrology-grade portable 3D scanner for all phases of the manufacturing process, and the Go!SCAN SPARK, the latest professional-grade 3D scanner for product design that unmatched speed and ease of use. Creaform solutions will also be available for customised demos.
Creaform’s Singapore offices feature classrooms for a wide array of customer training, helping manufacturers remain competitive on a global scale.
“Singapore is a strategic location for Creaform,” explained Patrice Parent, APAC Territory Manager at Creaform. “It is the ideal logistics and service hub to cater to manufacturers in South East Asia. Our staff is attuned to the distinct needs and challenges of companies in the region. We are proud to offer relevant metrology and 3D scanning expertise to our APAC clientele.”
Creaform’s Singapore office is located at 20 Changi Business Park Central 2, #04-03, Singapore 486031.
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.”