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Moving Up to 5-Axis Capabilities: This turbomachinery manufacturer installed the first North American production application of Revo 5-Axis scanning technology to measure impellers, rotors, turbine blades and compressor stages.

Posted: July 30, 2009


Turbocam International (Barrington, NH) is a world leader in 5-axis machining and a respected supplier of turbomachinery for the aerospace, automotive and industrial markets. Many of the complex, close-tolerance, multi-dimensional components they produce are machined from the solid and require sophisticated and complete inspection to insure their accuracy.

In the past this has been a tedious and painstaking process, even with the advent of the CMM. However, in recent years scanning probe technology has greatly improved inspection time and helped manufacturers like Turbocam to better integrate CMM programming with mill-tool-path programming. Even the scanning technology has made great strides, and the new Renishaw REVO is helping to significantly decrease that inspection time once more.

Dave Romain, quality assurance manager for Turbocam?s Barrington operation says, ?Because of the complex shapes of the products we manufacture, we were an early user of scanning technology. For three years we had been using a Zeiss CMM with a Renishaw TP20 fixed probe. This required quite a bit of program writing time for all the different types of 5-axis machined parts we are producing. In addition, we were not able to integrate the code from the Zeiss CMM software with our CAD programs. This prevented us from making fast program changes.?

In an effort to bring in some new CMM technology that would better suit their particular 5-axis machining applications, Turbocam contacted Xspect Solutions (Wixom, MI) to look at some new Wenzel CMM equipment, discuss their OpenDMIS software and compare their CMM scanning capabilities with what they were doing on their Zeiss machine.

Wenzel GmbH (Wiesthal, Germany) is the fourth largest CMM builder in the world and manufacturers its machinery intrinsically accurate, negating the need for the huge error compensation files to achieve quoted accuracies. The black granite used on these CMMs is processed in-house at their manufacturing facilities in Germany, not imported from China pre-finished.

?During our visit, we saw a Renishaw REVO scanning probe system in action and were immediately sold on its capabilities,? recalls Romain. Unlike conventional scanning methods that rely on speeding up the motion of the CMM in order to scan quickly, the REVO uses synchronized motion to minimize the dynamic errors of CMM motion at ultra high scanning speeds. An internal laser system accurately measures the exact position of the probe tip within the probe body down a hollow stylus to a reflector at the stylus tip.

Unlike conventional styli that need to be very stiff, the new hollow stylus is designed to bend, thereby deflecting the return path of the laser beam, which is monitored by a Position Sensing Detector mounted in the probe body.

?We?ve found that up to 500 mm/sec is possible without accuracy penalties. It also allows us the use of long styli which we need with some of our parts,? notes Romain. ?As a result of that first visit, we purchased a new Wenzel 8.10.7 CMM, equipped with the REVO probe system. We have standardized on OpenDMIS software that allows us to easily integrate our CAD programs.?

That?s not all. ?Eighteen months later we purchased a second Wenzel CMM, also with a REVO probe system,? states Romain. ?This machine was a Wenzel 10.12.8, a little larger machine, and because Xspect has a rebuild and remanufacturing division, they took our old Zeiss in on trade. Subsequently, we?ve purchased one of Wenzel?s economical X-Orbit 5.7.5 CMMs to perform all our non-scanning CMM work. We anticipate adding more of those machines as well.?

?In total, we now have three manual and three DCC CMMs in the department where we run a 2-shift operation,? explains Romain. ?We have standardized on OpenDMIS software for all our CMMs and Xspect has now trained thirteen of our CMM technicians. Our ultimate goal of significantly reducing the time required to write inspection programs has been achieved.?

Turbocam is now looking at a new level of improvement by analyzing ?families of parts? which they believe they can associate with their customer?s design processes to reduce the manufacturing time even more.

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Turbocam International, Barrington, NH 03825, 603-905-0328, Fax: 603-905-0201, .

Xspect Solutions, Inc., 47000 Liberty Drive, Wixom, MI 48393, 248-295-4300, Fax: 248-295-4301, .

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