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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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Airbus Taps Hexagon Subsidiary To Reduce Development Lead Time

Airbus Taps Hexagon Subsidiary To Reduce Development Lead Time

Hexagon subsidiary MSC Software has been selected by Airbus Group, as part of their digital transformation, to reduce development lead time by implementing an End-to-End materials management platform, MaterialCenter. Airbus intends to provide access to a one single material raw data database for Airbus Group and across its divisions.

MaterialCenter provides a complete solution for the current and future needs of aerospace materials data and process management. Designed to manage the complete materials workflow as the single point of entry for all materials related activities, it guarantees that engineers use a consistent source of approved materials derived from traceable integrated processes, resulting in improved simulation fidelity, reduced data loss and elimination of tedious manual data management activities.

MaterialCenter is highly scalable and perfectly suited to support the large number of users and the big amount of data generated and used by Airbus to engineer metallic and composite systems.

“We are extremely proud that MaterialCenter has been selected by Airbus as the End-to-End Materials Management Platform for the Group. We are looking forward to a strong, long-term partnership with Airbus as we implement and deploy MaterialCenter across the group.  This will enable an effective and efficient use of materials and materials data to drive innovative and high-quality product development,” said Roger A. Assaker, CEO of e-Xstream engineering and Chief Materials Strategist of MSC Software.

MaterialCenter is part of a comprehensive 10x Materials Solution that covers (virtual) material development, (virtual) materials testing, standard and advanced (multi-scale) material modelling serving all the major Finite Element Analysis software, effect of manufacturing (e.g. additive manufacturing (AM), automatic fibre placement, etc.), effect of defects, digital continuity and material-centric digital-twin, artificial intelligence (AI), compliance and sustainability.

 

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New High-Definition Feature Scanner For Automated Inspection

New High-Definition Feature Scanner For Automated Inspection

Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division has launched the APODIUS Absolute Camera AAC, a camera-based sensor designed for the fine analysis of large numbers of small repetitive features such as the drill-hole formations often found in large aerospace components. The sensor is specifically intended for integration within an automated robotic inspection system controlled by a Leica Absolute Tracker AT960, and can also be integrated directly within a production machine.

The AAC offers feature analysis at a finer level of detail than other non-contact measurement solutions. Accuracy is to within just 10 microns for diameter measurements, even on holes with sub-millimetre diameters – alternative non-contact measurement options available for automated integration typical struggle with holes less than 18 millimetres in diameter. And with a measurement speed of 10 Hertz, the AAC can keep up with robot movement of 100 millimetres per second, allowing it to cover a square-metre area densely populated with small features in less than five minutes.

“We’ve seen many requests from aerospace users for a solution like this,” said Jonathan Roberz, Managing Director of APODIUS at Hexagon. “Small holes can be extremely challenging to measure quickly and accurately – some customers are still using pin gauges because of a lack of better solutions, while others have to move their part onto a nearby CMM and give up many of the productivity benefits of an otherwise automated system. This new sensor offers the opportunity to finally remove such manual processes from otherwise modern automated inspection by finally delivering a system that has the accuracy these applications require in an fully automatable form.”

Within a Laser Tracker Automated Solution, the AAC can become a key part of a complete automated inspection system. It is fully compatible with a tool changer system, allowing it to be used alongside a dynamic surface scanner such as the Leica T-Scan 5 to provide automated inspection of every aspect of large components with no compromising on feature accuracy.

 

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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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AMendate Acquisition Helps Hexagon Minimise Time-to-Print For Additive Manufacturing

AMendate Acquisition Helps Hexagon Minimise Time-to-Print for Additive Manufacturing

Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire AMendate GmbH, a German-based start-up providing simulation software solutions that support the generation and optimisation of designs for additive manufacturing. AMendate will join Hexagon’s MSC Software business, a provider of computer-aided engineering (CAE) simulation software and services.

With this acquisition, MSC is positioned to offer its customers a paradigm shift away from general purpose optimisation technologies to an innovative, purpose built software solution for additive manufacturing. Enabling the efficient production of highly complex components and providing customers with numerous benefits, from material-saving, weight reduction and efficient, cost-effective production. AMendate’s technology eliminates the inefficient manual effort that significantly slows today’s workflows, allowing work steps to be completed in days that would otherwise take several weeks.

“The AMendate acquisition directly addresses a major obstacle during design for companies shifting to additive manufacturing processes,” said Paolo Guglielmini, CEO, MSC Software. “It enhances our Smart Factory solutions by minimising time-to-print. We are proud to welcome AMendate to the MSC team, and we look forward to what we will accomplish together.”

“With MSC being one of the most renowned developers for software solutions in CAE, we are incredibly excited to introduce our generative design technology to its customers,” said Dr. Thomas Reiher, CEO and co-founder, AMendate. “The integration of AMendate’s software in MSC’s established simulation technologies such as Simufact and MSC Apex will enable us to further enhance our technology even faster and make its benefits available to a global audience.”

AMendate was founded in 2018 by a team of experienced researchers from Paderborn University and the Direct Manufacturing Research Centre (DMRC) in Paderborn, an industrial/academic consortium started in 2008 by Boeing, EOS, and other commercial partners.

The AMendate transaction is expected to close early third quarter and subject to customary closing conditions.

 

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Hexagon Highlights New Technologies And Innovations At HxGN LIVE 2019

Hexagon Highlights New Technologies And Innovations At HxGN LIVE 2019

Hexagon AB is hosting HxGN LIVE 2019 this week, a four-day technology conference featuring new technologies and innovations, at The Venetian in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. HxGN LIVE brings together thousands of Hexagon customers, partners, and technology experts from industries and backgrounds around the world.

“Hexagon has a far-reaching vision for putting data to work to reverse the trend of resource depletion and waste overwhelming Earth’s systems,” said Ola Rollén, Hexagon President and CEO. “By empowering an increasingly autonomous future, our ‘do well to do good’ approach will drive sustainability through efficiency gains, increased safety, improved productivity and less waste — the very business outcomes our customers seek.”

Leaders from Hexagon’s business units will be announcing new technology products and industry partnerships during keynote presentations on Wednesday, 12 June. The 2019 Hexagon Honourees will be recognised during the event. This year’s award winners embody a spirit of innovation, partnership, and technological advancement through impact on their businesses, the industries they serve, and communities locally and globally.

Listed below are this year’s honourees with a brief description of why they won:

  • AI: Extending autonomous vehicle technology to benefit vertical markets such as construction, manufacturing and more.
  • Beijing Benz Automotive Co. Ltd (BBAC): Working to create an advanced intelligent quality system for auto manufacturing.
  • Bombardier Aerospace: Implementing virtual assembly techniques that validate components through critical compliance areas.
  • Canadian Natural Resources Ltd: Supporting projects that develop quality of life and economic health in the communities where it operates.
  • Censeo: Using georadar technology to create less invasive repair and inspection methods.
  • Corbins Electric: Creating and sharing best practices to innovate not only for the company but also the entire industry.
  • CP Police Service: Ensuring one of the best-performing and safest railways in North America.
  • Frequentis: Building solutions to make location-intelligence information available throughout organisations.
  • Fresnillo: Creating an integrated tech portfolio for mine planning, operations, enterprise, and survey and monitoring needs.

“Our customers are change makers and force multipliers, and we are pleased to celebrate this year’s Honourees for their innovative contributions,” said Rollén. “Their stories inspire and motivate all of us at Hexagon.”

 

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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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Global 3D Scanning Market Outlook

Global 3D Scanning Market Outlook

The global 3D scanning market was valued at US$1.007 billion in 2018, and is expected to reach US$3.26 billion by the end of 2024, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 22.2 percent from 2019 to 2024, according to Mordor Intelligence.

3D scanning technology has witnessed considerable adoption from commercial applications. Furthermore, the flexibility of the technology to be customised to meet professional needs in various industries has made it profoundly popular across major end-user industries. For instance, in the medical sector, 3D scanners are used to model body parts in three-dimensions, which is used to create prosthetics. It can also be used to facilitate wound healing and care and generate body implants.

In the current scenario, the use of 3D scanners provides dimensional quality control in the manufacturing and production of, both, small and large, critically essential, components. Whether the usage is on-site or at the point of production, it becomes vital to deliver ultra-precise, ultra-accurate, and ultra-resolution result.

However, price is one of the major factors restraining the adoption of 3D scanning solutions as the technology is still in the nascent stage in terms of global and commercial adoption.

In terms of product segment, medium rage 3D scanning is expected to hold a major market share. Phase shift 3D scanners, which capture millions of points by rotating 360 degrees while spinning a mirror that redirects the laser outward toward the object or areas to be 3D scanned, are ideal for medium range scan needs, such as large pumps, automobiles, and industrial equipment. Phase shift scanners are better suited for scanning objects with maximum distance up to 300m or less.

Meanwhile, medium-range terrestrial laser scanners, which measure point-to-point distances in spaces of 2-150m, are increasingly becoming critical for large-scale manufacturing and assembly operations’ applications, such as aircraft and ship assembly.

From a regional market perspective, the United States seen to be one of the most significant and momentous 3D scanning markets across the world, driven by the healthcare, aerospace and defence, architecture and engineering applications.

3D Scanning Landscape Remains Competitive

The 3D scanning market is fragmented. Overall, the competitive rivalry amongst existing competitors remains high. Moving forward, the new product innovation strategy of large and small companies will continue to propel the market. Some of the key players in the market are 3D Systems Inc. and Hexagon AB, and recent developments include:

  • April 2019: Creaform launched the third-generation scanning solution of its Go!SCAN: the Go!Scan SPARK, which is a portable 3D scanner designed for product development professionals.
  • February 2019: 3D Systems released a new version of Geomagic for SOLIDWORKS. With improved workflow, user interface and compatibility to various scanning device and export-import formats.
  • June 2018: Hexagon launched Leica RTC360, a laser scanner equipped with edge computing technology to enable fast and highly accurate creation of 3D models in the field. According to the company, it is the world’s first 3D laser scanner with automatic in-field pre-registration.

 

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Hexagon Enhances Post-Processed Simulation, Automation Features In ALPHACAM

Hexagon Enhances Post-Processed Simulation, Automation Features In ALPHACAM

Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence’s Production Software business has enhanced the post-processed simulation, automation, and five-axis functionality of its ALPHACAM CAD/CAM software.

The Post-processor engine now directly configures and deploys a simulation session, resulting in more realistic motion, as well as the ability to support cycles such as M6. The Automation suite has been upgraded, improving the user’s experience and productivity when creating and deploying job configurations. Whether setting up a first automation job, or whether the user is involved in complex and dynamic environments, the new setup wizards will make short work of daily production tasks.

Regarding solids machining, specifically machining solid faces directly, ALPHACAM sets a new standard by allowing direct interaction with them. The Rough/Finish command (profiling) now allows the user to directly select and machine a solid face. And if the machine supports tool compensation on custom orientations (planes), this option provides the ability to create precision parts with minimal effort, via the use of G41/G42.

Advanced five-axis functionality also has been updated to include numerous improvements, such as the ability to integrate the Toolpath Optimiser into a core cycle which can then be stored in a machining style and deployed with Automation; and the inclusion of barrel mill and double profile tools. Improvements in SWARF machining, multi-axis roughing and toolpath smoothing are also included.

The geometry offset command is now intelligent and dynamic, making all operations more productive, whether the user wants to simply retain attributes and information on the geometry, or to completely re-assign machining cycle parameters to a newly created offset.

Regarding ordering and productivity tools enhancements, a new feature of ALPHACAM provides a simple, productive and effective way to set a user-defined order in seconds.

 

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Hexagon Adds Five-Axis Programming Function In WORKNC

Hexagon Adds Five-Axis Programming Function In WORKNC

Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence’s Production Software business has expanded the Advanced Toolform technology of WORKNC with the introduction of five-axis programming for any tool shape. WORKNC 2020.0 allows for five-axis tool shapes such as barrels, ovals, parabolic, or any given shape, to be calculated over the part surfaces, including negative offsets (allowances).

“This is the perfect complement for the well-established three-axis finishing toolpaths,” said WORKNC Brand Manager Miguel Johann. “Also known as circle-segment tools, they revolutionise machining productivity at all levels. They bring the benefit of a smoother contact point, resulting in larger stepovers, without compromising on accessibility, as it keeps the shank diameter relatively small. WORKNC’s Advanced Toolform solution allows for multiple surfaces to be machined at the same time, in CAD models coming from any source, solid or surface based.”

The Wall Machining toolpath also gets a boost by including the Spiral patterns and 2D toolpath compensation. Sharp edges are now protected by a corner smoothing radius and retracts have been optimised to increase productivity and reduce machining time.

 

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