HOW THINGS ARE MEASURED TODAY
By Alex Lucas
Laser Scanning Innovation: Retrofitting CMMs or articulated arms with new laser scanners is one affordable option among many that shops are considering.
New product development is a powerful force in expanding manufacturing’s impact on economies around the world. Concurrently, the focus on improving production efficiency and part quality while meeting stringent production schedules is unrelenting.
Measurement and inspection is one vital area being marked for improvement by advances in laser scanning technology, and retrofitting coordinate-measuring machines (CMMs) or articulated arms with new laser scanners is one affordable option many shops are considering.
Given the right choices in scanning and software technology, many advances are possible:
Measurement coverage. Where many touch probes might achieve input rates of one point per second, laser-scanning stripes can range from 50 mm to 200 mm (1.97 in to 7.87 in) in width and scan tens of thousands of data points per second.
Speed. With laser scanning, even complex 3D castings, production dies, turbine blades, cell phones, or plastic parts can be scanned in a matter of minutes.
Offline reporting. Reserving your CMM or articulated arm for measuring and inspection, and transferring data to PC-based reporting software can significantly reduce inspection time and speed time to market.
Quick and simple retrofits. A range of laser-scanning options are compatible with many existing CMM and articulated-arm setups. Often retrofits can be accomplished in a matter of hours.
Ability to automate. Integrated software packages are available that can handle gathering data, measuring, comparing scanned data to CAD models, and generating reports with both visual representations and tabular data into a single automated process.
Latest technology. New technologies such as cross-scanning combine multiple scanners and digital cameras for scanning complex parts and features without re-orientation.
Easy-to-understand reports. Incorporating color-coded visuals and tabular data can speed approval processes and make sharing information easier.
Cost effective. In many cases, new laser scanners can be retrofitted to existing CMMs or articulated arms, and selected laser scanners can be applicable to both platforms.
Many choices in CMM-based laser scanning technology are available. On the entry level, numerous companies make single-stripe laser scanners that provide approximately a 50 mm stripe width, generate 20 to 25 stripes per second and input something in the ballpark of 20,000 points per second while maintaining an error tolerance of 20 µm to 25 µm.
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About the Author: Alex Lucas is the business development manager of scanning products at Nikon Metrology Inc., 12701 Grand River Ave Brighton, MI 48116, 810-220-4360, Marketing_US@NikonMetrology.com, www.nikonmetrology.com.