Tools for Improved Quality

Here’s a look at some recent developments in the metrology arena that can help you improve your production quality.

The Quality Data Cloud

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When you hear the word “cloud” nowadays, you’re probably not thinking cirrus or cumulus, but something that has to do with data that’s “up there” somewhere.

But there is another type of data-filled cloud that is in the arena of metrology: the point cloud that’s created by sensors, information that can be highly useful.

Speaking of the AIMax cloud optical 3D sensor that Zeiss (zeiss.com/metrology/home.html) has developed, Michael Scheffler, business development manager in the Zeiss Industrial Metrology business group, says, “By capturing dense point clouds, the Zeiss AIMax cloud offers the possibility of measuring multiple features, such as bending edges, rivets, surface points and T pins, with just a single capture. The measurement setup is fast and intuitive, and the result is visualized immediately after the measurement in the 3D point cloud. For the user, this is a very comfortable and time-saving solution.”

The sensor can be used integrated into a line or robot-based for applications in body construction. It can be used to inspect assembly and welding processes, make gap-and-flush measurements, and even measure what have been difficult to analyze, things like nuts and rivets that can be obscured.

A single sensor provides the capabilities to perform gray scale image processing, multi-line triangulation and shadow analysis. This means it lends itself to measuring complex geometric characteristics. Additionally, there is digital camera technology that provides signal lines up to 100 m.

Thanks to optimized projection technology and high 3D-resolution, even small features on sheet metal can be measured.

Speed of operation makes 100 percent inspection a possibility. And feature extraction in the point cloud is said to provide increased robustness, faster setup and improved ease of use compared to traditional image processing systems.

Nothing cloudy about that.


Sensors Meet Automation

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When you take parts from two words and combine them to come up with a new coinage, it is called creating a “portmanteau” word. Brunch. Infotainment. Guesstimate.

And the people at Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence have come up with a portmanteau word that they’re probably hoping will catch on among people in the metrology community: “Senmation.”
Senmation brings together “sensors” and “automation.”

So what do they mean?

Senmation is a universal sensor interface for coordinate measuring machines (CMMs) that allows fully automatic sensor exchange within a part program.

There are several things packed into that. For one, this means that the CMM can become a multisensor device. For example, Hexagon has established exchange capability for HP-S-X5 HD scanning probes, full 3D fixed scanning heads capable of simultaneously measuring in X, Y and Z to precisely define the orientation of workpiece surfaces, suited for measuring mechanical part tolerances and geometries; the HP-S-X1 scanning probes that, when combined with the HH-AS-2.5 indexable probe head, provides simultaneous probing in all axes while staying orthogonal to the contact surface; the PRECITEC LR optical sensor which uses focused white light for measurements on a variety of materials with submicron-level accuracy. These various probes can be used within a single measurement program without any operator intervention.

Senmation is integrated directly into the CMM quill. A probe recognition system (Component Identification System) identifies the probe and its status. It isn’t necessary to recalibrate the sensors as the switch is made from one type to another. An exchange in the CNC mode requires less than 45 seconds.

Hexagon is undertaking what it is calling a “Future Ready Concept” for its machines wherein equipment will be prepared for Senmation. Updated Leitz PMM-C and PMM-Xi machines won’t require engineers to switch pre-cabling for the deployment of the sensor-changing system.

According to Holger Fritze, general manager at Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence (hexagonmi.com/en-US) Germany, “By introducing the Future-Ready Concept our aim is to eradicate unnecessary downtime for our customers, speeding up measurement routines and allowing more flexibility in their workflows now, and in the future.”
 


Get More Out of a Manual CMM

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Chances are, there are more than a few operations out there that have more than a few manual CMMs. So Renishaw (www.renishaw.com/en) is doing something to enhance the productivity of those machines via its MODUS 2 manual CMM upgrade kits.

 


The MODUS 2 MMI—an interface—allows users to access measurement information in a readily usable form. The software, which works with Renishaw’s range of touch-trigger probes, displays the full virtual environment. This means the CMM, probe head and part fixture.

Say there is an inspection program for the part. In this case, MODUS 2 will provide prompts that will guide the user through the required sequence.

If there is no program, then it offers a choice to the user, including selecting a feature from the CAD model or taking points on the part and letting the software automatically determine what the feature type is.

As for hardware, there are several kits available, such as a controller, encoder components, three-way footswitch (for hands-free interaction) and software.
 


Dialed In

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Although there are all manner of tools to facilitate quality, there is still something to be said for the usefulness of lever-type dial test indicators.

And to that end, Mitutoyo America Corp. (mitutoyo.com) has launched a line of these units that have increased durability, sensitivity and readability. There is an array of styli and ruby tips for probing. There is a glare-free, flat crystal face that features multiple layers of hard, smudge-resistant coatings that minimize scratches. The crystal, as well as the color of the dial face and the font used for alphanumerics enhance readability.

An O-ring seal on the bezel not only prevents oil and dust from contaminating the dial face, but it provides smooth rotation. There is a flange on the device to prevent the bezel from being detached during use.

Impact resistance was addressed during the design of the dial indicators. A one-piece internal assembly means that replacement of internal components is straightforward should it be required. The mounting of the internal gears is designed so that the indicators will maintain good trackability over the long run.

There is a unique subplate structure that prevents the stylus from becoming loose. (And of the subject of the stylus: its length is indicated on the face of the indicator so as to facilitate ordering replacement styli.)

Horizontal, horizontal with a 20 degree tilted face, vertical and parallel dial positions are available.