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NIMS Partners With OMIC To Develop Metrology Standards And Certification

NIMS Partners With OMIC To Develop Metrology Standards And Certification

The National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS) and the Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center – Research & Development (OMIC R&D) have united to define a set of Metrology standards and to develop a Metrology certification process. Metrology, the study of measurement, has far-reaching applications in the manufacturing industry. The ability to compare and verify a physical part against its CAD model is in high demand, and that demand is predicted to increase.

A Global Industry Analysts, Inc. report, “Metrology Software – Global Strategic Business Report,” stated that the North American 3D metrology market, valued at $482 million in 2014, will grow to $726.8 million by 2020. Dimensional metrology is used widely in industries such as automotive, aerospace, energy, electronics, pharmaceutical, etc. Quality control jobs, like that of a Quality Technician or Manufacturing Quality Manager, are not currently being filled fast enough to meet demand.

Montez King, executive director of NIMS, said, “NIMS is proud to work with OMIC R&D to provide a benchmark for competency within the Metrology field. These standards and the certification process will allow students, employees, and trainers to identify the skills required in high-demand quality control occupations.”

Craig Campbell, Executive Director of the Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center – Research and Development said: “An often underappreciated but critical part of manufacturing is the ability to measure.  This is especially important in metals manufacturing where failure to measure not only the end product, but throughout the machining process can result in products that do not meet specifications resulting in substantial waste in time, labor, and material. This partnership with NIMS will provide a clear standard for training in dimensional measurement that industry can rely on.  I am excited about the impact this will have on manufacturing!”

The skills and certification metrics will be defined by compiling and comparing available metrology reference material, such as job descriptions, occupational duties, and performance requirements. Once this is completed, companies and educational organisations will be recruited to pilot the credentials. NIMS will collect feedback and work with OMIC to finalise all certification questions and standards.


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A Guide To Machining Better Castings Through Optical Metrology

A Guide to Machining Better Castings Through Optical Metrology

This article illustrates the different challenges that the metalworking industry faces in machining castings and highlights how optical metrology allows for more castings to be inspected before and after machining, and how inspection time can be shortened, and production costs associated with scraps can be reduced. Article by Jerome-Alexandre Lavoie, Creaform.

Producing castings is an elaborate process in which each stage plays a critical role in the creation of final parts that meet customers’ requirements. Thus, the metalworking industry’s contribution to the manufacturing process is imperative and essential. It must produce raw castings with enough material for the machining process so that the final parts meet inspection standards, and it must achieve this while minimising inspection time and the production costs associated with rejected parts.

When working with castings, here are some of the issues you need to consider:

  1. How can raw castings with potential issues that might not present enough material for the machining process be identified?
  2. How can entire surface profiles—not just discrete points—be checked to ensure that the parts fit within the required tolerances?
  3. How can the needed information to mark the castings as pass or fail be obtained before investing more time and money in them?

This article aims to illustrate the different challenges that the metalworking industry faces in machining castings, to highlight how optical metrology allows for more castings to be inspected before and after machining, and, finally, to describe how inspection time can be shortened and production costs associated with scraps can be reduced. The objective is, of course, to produce parts of better quality.


Producing parts involves machining raw castings. Yet, only the surfaces of the castings with important mechanical functions require machining. To optimise machining and ensure better quality, these surfaces must have enough material; otherwise, mechanical contacts might be defective, and tolerances might not be met.

Therefore, the manufacturing industry recognises the benefits of inspecting castings before and after machining. Before machining to measure dimensions and validate if the material quantity is sufficient on specific surfaces. After machining to get an overall view of the entire casting and inspect the complete surface. The objective is, of course, to produce parts that meet the required tolerances.

Nevertheless, some manufacturers go as far as inspecting the mold to produce better raw castings. Is having a nominal mold, built according to the computer-aided design (CAD) file, not a prerequisite for obtaining a nominal final part? Unfortunately, no.

Multiple unpredictable phenomena, such as shrinkage, come into play when producing castings. Because metal fusion is a complex phenomenon, the manufacturing process does not follow a linear and repeatable path from the mold to the final part.

Clients ask for perfect parts—according to specifications and within tolerances—not for perfect molds. Therefore, it is always preferable to first inspect the parts (not the molds), and then, to make changes backward on the die if specifications are not met. Controlling the quality of all of the stations of the manufacturing process is an ambitious project. Many unforeseeable phenomena that are difficult to control make it impossible to predict the final result before getting the parts in hand.

Machining castings that do not have enough material will result in producing parts that do not meet customers’ requirements. Shipping non-compliant parts to clients in large quantities can result in financial and legal issues. To protect themselves, clients demand quality inspection reports on each part. This is where optical metrology can be of great help to the metalworking industry.

Solution: Optical Metrology

With optical metrology, the metalworking industry gets a portable, easy-to-use, quick, and efficient instrument for measuring, inspecting, and validating castings before and after machining.

Portable because the measuring tool can be taken directly to the casting on the shop floor in the production environment. Because of these characteristics, which are specific to portable 3D scanners, castings no longer have to be brought to the coordinate measuring machine (CMM). Precious time is saved, allowing for more inspections.

Easy to use because portable 3D scanners offer a digital Go — No Go feature, which enables operators to quickly evaluate dimensional measurements and easily identify parts that do not meet the required tolerances. This way, castings that do not have enough material before machining can be easily identified, as can those that do not meet the required tolerances after machining. Thus, inspectors have the necessary feedback to mark the parts as pass or fail before investing in them further.

Quick because optical technology can contribute to reducing inspection time. Due to the instant meshing, inspectors can check the surface acquisition by looking at their laptop computer or tablet screen. Therefore, the validation of dimensional variation is much faster than with traditional measuring instruments, which contributes to freeing up precious CMM time, solving bottleneck issues, and, eventually, avoiding the purchase of a second CMM.

Efficient because optical technology enables inspectors to control more castings with more information and without surface preparation. Indeed, unlike touch probing, 3D scanning provides an overall view of the inspected part, not just discrete points. In analysing the surface profiles, 3D scanners can validate if the material is sufficient to proceed with machining.


Parts of Better Quality

Focusing on the part quality, and not on having a nominal mold built according to the CAD file, will accelerate production time. This way, frequent and unpredictable phenomena will be taken into account during the manufacturing process.

Reduced Production Costs

By inspecting castings before and after machining with a portable 3D scanner, the metalworking industry can quickly identify those that do not have enough material, thus limiting the cost associated with their production. Therefore, these castings can be redirected and reworked before investing in them further.

Shortened Inspection Time

With an acquisition rate of 1/2 million points per second, 100 percent of the surfaces can be inspected within a few seconds. Additionally, the part no longer has to be moved to the metrology lab for inspection. Therefore, inspections made with portable 3D scanners mean being able to inspect more castings faster and with more data while freeing up CMM time that can be used for more critical and valuable tasks such as final inspections.

Using optical metrology in the metalworking industry can help reduce the costs associated with scraps in order to produce parts of better quality while minimising inspection time.


The objective of the metalworking industry is to produce parts that meet their customers’ specifications and are within the required tolerances. To do so, raw castings are produced and, then, machined and validated. In order to reduce the costs associated with scraps, inspecting the casting dimensions before machining is recommended to ensure that the material is sufficient. Then, after machining, an inspection can confirm that the part dimensions—not the mold—correspond to the CAD file.

Optical metrology instruments, such as portable 3D scanners, provide the metalworking industry with more information and enable inspectors to measure more castings faster. Thus, precious CMM time can be saved and dedicated to final reporting, which is required by customers. Thus, 3D scanning helps to offload traditional CMMs, solve bottleneck issues, and avoid the costly purchase of a second CMM. Optical metrology not only helps to free up CMM time, which is valuable for the metalworking industry, but also guarantees to minimise inspection time and production costs, resulting in parts of better quality.


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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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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 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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Interference For Optimal Accuracy

Interference For Optimal Accuracy

A non-contact, high-resolution and fast measurement technique known as optical interference technology can be used as a measure for development and quality control. By Dr Sun Wanxin, Senior Applications Manager, Nano Surfaces Division, Bruker.

Surface finish plays a significant role in the functions and reliabilities of materials and devices. Understanding surface wear and its underlying causes can be critical to the manufacture and maintenance of automotive and aerospace parts, such as bearings, seals, drive trains, shafts and brake components.

Improving the adhesion energy between coatings and substrates can make parts more reliable. For example, by controlling the surface roughness of engine parts, lubrication can be improved as lubricant trapped on the surface is tailored by surface texture optimisation.

Additionally, by controlling the properties of the surface texture, visual effects can be changed significantly, such as making car paint look premium.

Limitations Of Stylus Profiling

Quantitative measurements of surface finish can be traced back to the 1930s. A tiny stylus was scanned across the sample surface and the vertical movement of the stylus was recorded against the lateral position, forming a line profile.

From the line profile, more than 100 parameters have been defined to describe the surface texture, including commonly used average roughness (Ra), root mean square roughness (Rq), peak counts (RPc) and more.

However, the stylus profiling method has a few limitations. First, stylus profiling is a contact-based technique; there is a possibility of damaging or contaminating the sample. In addition, the size of stylus limits the spatial resolution of this method. Lower spatial resolution may result in measured results that are not relevant to the application. The third limitation of stylus profiling is its limited sampling size, where only a line is measured and important characteristics of the surface might be missed.

To circumvent this problem, most commercial stylus profilers now have 3D mapping, which is performed by scanning multiple lines to form a 3D surface. However, the time taken for one measurement can take hours to perform. This makes it prohibitive to use 3D mapping in routine surface measurements.

Measurements Through Optical Interference

It is highly desirable to have a non-contact, fast, high-resolution, and 3D surface measurement technique for development and quality control. The answer is 3D optical microscopes: these devices measure surface finish through optical interference technology.

A resolution of sub-nanometre in Z and sub-micrometre in XY has been demonstrated on 3D optical microscopes. The typical time used for one measurement ranges from a few seconds to a few minutes depending on the surface roughness.

The 3D optical profiling data gathered would be the equivalent to taking hundreds of parallel line scans with the stylus profilers, which could easily take many hours to complete.

Technical Applications

One unique merit of 3D optical microscopes such as Bruker’s NPFLEX 3D surface metrology system is that the sub-nanometre resolution in Z is independent of the measurement range in XYZ. For some samples, the height variation in one field of view can be up to several millimetres.

The device can also measure sub-nanometre resolution within the 10 mm Z range. In terms of XY dimensions, one measurement can cover an area from tens micrometres to a few millimetres by using different objectives.

If an even larger measurement area is required, the 3D microscope can do a stitching scan, where a series of single measurements will be stitched together to form a large area up to eight inches in XY. In routine measurements for quality control processes, all the measurements can also be automated.

After each measurement, the required surface parameters can be calculated automatically and checked against the preset criteria to report a fail or pass. If robotics is integrated, the 3D optical microscope can also be used as a sorting tool based on part quality.

Data Analysis Provides A Better Understanding

The rich information in the 3D data provides a more comprehensive understanding of the surface.

For example, shape and volume of each corrosion pit can be analysed automatically through one measurement. Spectral distribution and angular distribution of surface finish can be calculated automatically, which is important to understand the root cause of such surface texture and quality control for some products, such as sealing components.

To meet the requirements of different applications, all the surface parameters in ISO standard have been implemented in the analysis software, including commonly used roughness parameters for 2D profile and 3D surface, spectrum for periodicity and directionality analysis of surface texture, geometric parameter extraction, such as height, depth, width, area and volume. To support production environment and eliminate human error, data analysis and data logging can be automated.

In summary, 3D optical profiling provides a versatile, rapid, non-contact characterisation of surface texture for both research laboratories and production floors. 3D optical microscopes are a vital metrology platform for precision engineering, engineering materials, microelectronics, manufacturing, automation and quality control.


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Benefits Of Improved Multisensor Measurement

Benefits Of Improved Multisensor Measurement

Multisensor systems have evolved considerably over the years as the component technologies for motion control, optics, lighting and cameras have improved. Tim Sladden, Quality Vision International, tells us more.

Multisensor coordinate measuring machines that combine vision, touch and laser sensors have been used in manufacturing quality control for nearly 20 years. Many still recall the early days of multisensor systems when the primary sensor worked well, but the additional sensors – sometimes added almost as an afterthought, offered limited capability and poor accuracy.

Today’s multisensor systems have advanced to the point that all sensors now offer full capability and accuracy. Limitations inherent in earlier designs have been removed through more careful integration of the sensors with the measuring axes.

Improvements in the metrology software are the greatest enabler of comprehensive multisensor capability. Measuring software has evolved in ways that allow each sensor to be truly integrated and measure with consistent uncertainty at all times.

Along the way the economic benefits of multisensor measurement systems have become clear: reduced capital and calibration expenses, shorter learning cycles, added flexibility and convenience, and most important – lower overall uncertainty in the measurements.

Figure 1

Manufacturing Processes Improved

To highlight the full range of capabilities of today’s multisensor measuring systems, let’s look at three types of parts and how their manufacturing processes have been improved by using multisensor measurement.

In Figure 1, we see a femoral implant being measured with a calliper. This is not that simple orthopaedic implants are among the most complex-shaped devices being machined today – there is simply no way to measure the critical dimensions and form of these parts with a single sensor system.

For starters, the highly polished surfaces of knee implants are extremely sensitive. Even casual contact by a tool or gauge could damage the surface finish, causing friction that could lead to improper fit and ultimately pain in the patient receiving the implant. To measure these parts, a variety of non-contact or minimally invasive tools – vision optics, lasers or very light contact probing force – are needed.

More importantly, femoral implants consist of a series of curves controlled by profile tolerances, each of which is simultaneously constrained by the material condition of one or more datum features. These geometric dimensioning and tolerancing (GD&T) conventions enable the designer to specify the form of the part exactly, but make verifying the part a challenge. To properly measure this part, the measurement points must be collected, and then fitted to the CAD model in their entirety in order to ensure all material conditions are properly evaluated. Data from tactile, scanning, laser and optical sensors needs to be integrated with the CAD model, and powerful software is needed to perform the GD&T evaluation.

Modern System

Enter the modern multisensor system. A system with telecentric optics, through-the-lens laser, and a micro-scanning probe can measure the outside dimensions, profiles and curves without damaging the part, and compare the data directly to the CAD model.

The manufacturer of this part faced high re-work and scrap rates, in spite of careful machining, polishing and measurement. Compounding the issue were disputes about dimensional conformance between different measurement techniques.

Multisensor measurement solved the first problem, by accurately measuring the critical features without damaging the part. True multisensor software enabled the data to be fitted to the CAD model and applied the GD&T standards properly.

This combination enabled the manufacturer to eliminate disputes about measurement accuracy between different gages, and ultimately reduce the number of finishing steps needed to produce the part to customer specs. All of which reduced scrap and re-work costs substantially.

Our next example is a large casting with a variety of machined surfaces, mounting holes and bearing ways on each of its four sides. This part has more than 50 discrete dimensions that must be controlled to ensure fit and function within the assembly it is part of. Many of these dimensions relate to datums on opposite or adjacent sides of the part. Ideally, the part would be measured in one set-up, without having to re-stage the part to enable measurement of all its surfaces.

While access and tolerance issues make a tactile scanning star probe (Figure 2) the ideal sensor for the bearing tracks, other features such as the small blind holes on the adjacent face are best measured using video, while surface flatness measurements on the mating surfaces are best made using a laser. The custom made flip fixture in this photo automatically indexes the part to present each side to the sensor array for measurement. This casting is a component in a complex assembly that relies on machined-in precision for the reliability of the overall mechanism. Thus, measurement is critical to the overall quality of the end-product.

For the maker of this part, multisensor measurement offered a number of benefits. Most significant was the time savings of being able to confirm all dimensions on one system, rather than having to program, stage and measure on several different systems, then combine and compare the data to determine if the part met spec. Another significant benefit is that the multisensor system offered the same uncertainty regardless of the sensor used.

In our third example, we see another complex machined casting – in this case, hydraulic transmission housing. This part presents a challenge to measure in a single set-up. Not only are there dimensions along the outer stems and top flange, there are dimensions on the seal surface and spline more than six inches deep inside the part. To access all these features in one orientation, long working distance optics and a LWD laser are needed to reach features at the bottom, as well as scanning probe capability to measure inside dimensions on the stems and interior profile.

Once again, the combination of scanning probe, laser and video measurement makes quick work of measuring this complex part. The laser quickly gathers a large pattern of data from the mating surface on the top flange. Flatness on this seal surface is critical. The scanning probe measures the interior profile in several locations, as well as the inside diameters of the in-flow and out-flow stems to calculate interior volume and flow rate characteristics. The long working distance laser also reaches to the boss on the inside of the spline for a flatness measurement, and long working distance optics quickly measure the gear teeth and ball bearing positions in the ball spline.

Each of these three examples illustrates the value inherent in a high quality multisensor measurement:

In all cases, it was possible to measure the entire part on one measuring system – saving the cost of buying and maintaining multiple measuring systems, and eliminating the differences in uncertainty between differing measurement technologies.

The range of sensors available enabled the key dimensions to be measured using the best sensor type for the feature without compromising efficiency or accuracy. Deployable and long working distance sensors help eliminate interference between sensors and minimise offsets that use up valuable measuring range.


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Hexagon Advanced Positioning System For Automated 3D Optical Measurement

Hexagon Advanced Positioning System For Automated 3D Optical Measurement

Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division launched LightRunner, an advanced positioning tool that transforms automated 3D optical measurement by eliminating mapping time during the setup and measurement of parts. 3D optical measurement systems enable manufacturers to rapidly capture rich data sets from large surfaces and assembly features for defect detection and process control, making them essential in industries including automotive and aerospace. Until now such systems typically required a lengthy mapping process during setup, with each new part referenced by the placement of markers before automated measurement could begin.

This approach is time-consuming, so Hexagon has developed LightRunner’s patented pattern projection technique and advanced software algorithms to improve productivity and shorten cycle times by removing mapping and robot stabilisation time. LightRunner automatically projects millions of reference points on to a part’s surface to provide constant absolute positioning for high-speed, non-contact, 3D optical measurement systems, providing confidence in the results without the need for CMM correlations. The LightRunner solution also accelerates initial part programming and eliminates the need to store reference panels or the use of reference frames on the fixtures, reducing operator workload and minimising training requirements for shop-floor users.

Fernando Funtowicz, Senior Product Manager, explained: “Manufacturers are increasingly turning to fully-automated 3D optical measurement systems to help them digitally transform production, gain greater insight into their processes and build on their investments to develop faster, more accurate techniques that drive productivity. LightRunner removes some of the major challenges of implementing automated 3D optical measurement, enabling more manufacturers to benefit from the rich data capture it offers. This system has a major effect on the utilisation and productivity of automated optical measurement and enables better process control without the need to buy new tooling, fixtures or robots.”


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3D Scanning Streamlines Production Process

3D Scanning Streamlines Production Process

Tolerances on blade manufacturing tightened as OEMs drove to differentiate themselves by offering high performance lawn and garden products. To achieve customer goals, Blount International knew they had to incorporate more automation into their quality inspection process.  Article by Mark Thomas, Marketing Director, OGP.

As a leading manufacturer of equipment, accessories and replacement parts for the lawn and garden market, Blount International was looking to improve their profitability and exceed their customer delivery expectations. They were faced with the problem of how to economically produce a variety of nearly 1,900 different OEM lawnmower blades. The large selection of blades required by their OEM customers meant short production runs and multiple tooling changes each day. Their goal was to improve product quality while controlling costs and meeting shipment commitments.

Tolerances on blade manufacturing tightened as OEMs drove to differentiate themselves by offering high performance lawn and garden products. To achieve customer goals, Blount knew they had to incorporate more automation into their quality inspection process.

The Need For 3D Metrology Scanner

The company had always used traditional methods of measurement such as hand callipers and height gages to verify the conformance of its mower blades to customer specifications. The company’s Engineering Manager, Brian Brunk, believed that complex product features could be measured more efficiently with a 3D metrology scanner that can quickly and accurately verify part dimensions, regardless of shape complexity.

A ShapeGrabber 3D scanner from OGP was selected because of the ability to provide fast, accurate, noncontact measurements of nearly any material or shape without the need for special tools or fixtures. The scanner was also large enough to handle the largest Blount product offering.

Compared to conventional tactile CMM techniques, measuring one point at a time, 3D scanners capture millions of surface points on even the most complex geometry parts, and can quickly compare the results to a CAD design. Deviations from the CAD design are easily identified, making tooling acceptance decisions fast and accurate – meaning part production can start sooner, and with higher confidence.

Beneficial To Entire Production Process

Graphical models of ShapeGrabber measurements make part quality decisions easy without tying up other measuring systems. Melissa Rice, Continuous Improvement Coordinator at Blount detailed their process with the ShapeGrabber system: “Before we release a new die for production, we do a capability study to prove the accuracy of the die and qualify the tooling. ShapeGrabber provides the ability to do that through automation rather than manual inspection. ShapeGrabber has assisted us in improving our first-pass yield. When we can produce a quality part the first time, the entire production process benefits.”

For in-process inspection, the ShapeGrabber system has been proven to be easy-to-use and highly automated. After an initial scan, the same scanning parameters may be used for subsequent parts, delivering consistent results irrespective of operator skill or experience. Ease-of-use is manifested daily as dozens of production personnel routinely use the scanner, each having just minimal training.

Culture Of Quality

An unexpected benefit of the ShapeGrabber scanner system has also been reported: it is supporting a “culture of quality” at Blount. Employees are taking more ownership of the products and their quality. “The 3D scanner has engaged the people who use it more than they were engaged before. Now, we see employees taking more ownership of the products and their quality throughout the manufacturing organisation,” remarked Mr. Brunk.


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Importance Of Process Control

Importance Of Process Control

Asia Pacific Metalworking Equipment News is pleased to conduct an interview with Mr Lim Boon Choon, President of Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence, APAC, regarding current trends in metrology.

  1. Could you provide us with an overview of the current trends regarding metrology in metalworking?

Metrology continues to be important to assure quality in the final products, but customers are beginning to see the importance of process control, not just quality control.  By process control, I mean getting metrology into the production area as well, and not just the quality room.  By installing hardware and software in the production area, customers can check critical dimensions directly during the production process and ensure that the products are within specifications.  This will help to ensure that there is less chance of products getting into the metrology room a few hours later and finding that the products do not meet the requirements and must be scrapped or re-worked.

Another trend is the use of non-contact scanning.  Customers are coming up with very highly polished materials or mixture of different materials that may be sensitive to scratch marks.  Non-contact scanning prevents scratches and speeds up the inspection very quickly.

The third trend is the increasing use of additive manufacturing as a complement to traditional manufacturing.

  1. How has Hexagon kept up with these trends?

Over the years, Hexagon has developed or acquired various technologies that allowed us to implement in-line, next-to-the-line, or off-line inspection.  We help customers build quality into their process from Design and Engineering, to Production and to final inspection.  Increasingly, we also provide automated inspection systems that allows customers to use metrology in the shop floor to control the process and reduce scraps and rework.

For example, our AICON TubeInspect solution is a unique equipment for customers producing tubes.  They can place their tubes in our system which measures the bending angles within a second and calculates the correct bending parameters to be sent back to the tube bending machine.  This kind of close loop process helps customers to get their tubes right quickly and saves a lot of time and cost of rework.

We also have software like NC-SIMUL that simulates the machining process, Hexagon production software for finding the best cutting strategy, SIMUFACT for CAE simulation of additive manufacturing, Q-DAS and eMMA to monitor the manufacturing process and manage the relationship between parts, shop floor and portable CMM that allows us to measure the parts directly in the production area.

Another example of our products being shop floor ready is that we designed our CMM to have in-built message lights (Global S CMM), and pulse sensors that monitor vibration, humidity, temperature in real time.

Hexagon is now helping customers to optimise product innovation at various stages like Design, planning, production, quality assurance and post Production, and also our ability to link and integrate all data through our Smart Factory solutions and Assets Management system.

  1. What are the main challenges faced by the metrology industry?

With the market going for more innovative products that may be highly customized, manufacturers are faced with high mix low volume situations.  They need solutions that are easy to implement, robust and well connected to their manufacturing systems.

Many customers know that they need information to make good decisions, but there is a general lack of understanding of what can be done to tap in the information from various equipment (connectivity problem), and how to get actionable data; not just data, but actionable data.

  1. How can they be overcome?

It boils down to leadership.  Leaders have to be bold, have vision and courage to change.  Start small and scale up quickly.

Rethink quality.  Quality is not just in the quality room but should be built into the products right from how we design the product, how we ensure the design is strong, can be produced cost effectively, and the equipment and software are suitable to produce the product consistently.  Look into process control, and not just quality control in the Quality room.

  1. Moving forward, where do you think the industry is headed in the next 5 to 10 years?

With the push towards Industry 4.0, and especially with government encouragement and funding, I think manufacturers will want to implement more and more smart systems – automated solutions on the shop floor and monitored with software that gives them smart diagnostics and even artificial intelligence built in to identify problems early.  Process control and non-contact scanning will also be increasingly prevalent.


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