New measuring technology at MACH 2018

Uploaded 16 Mar @ 15:38pm

Metrology has evolved in recent years with the advent of lasers, 3D scanners, and optical technology, all serving to change the way things are measured. Inspection is moving away from the metrology room, such that measurement is now being brought to the point of manufacture. The keys to this transition are equipment portability, simplicity, and flexibility. So, it is no surprise that the focus of attention at MACH 2018 for UK supplier of metrology systems, Measurement Solutions Limited (MSL), will be portable metrology and Automated Quality Control (AQC) using industrial robots.
Dedicated Business Divisions
As metrology moves closer to the production floor, simplicity and ease of use are mandatory to enable those who manufacture parts to also inspect them. Inspection is no longer a parallel procedure, but rather an integral part of the manufacturing process. One thing is for sure – 3D scanning is gradually replacing traditional methods for three major reasons, First, speed of acquisition is much faster, with thousands of measurements compared to a single point CMM. Secondly the density of information produces measurements across the whole part, not just at pre-determined locations. And, only a short time is required to characterise a complete part.
Scanning can be applied across the whole of manufacturing, from initial product design right through to final inspection. With this in mind, MSL has purposely separated its business activities to address the needs of the market, whether it is for portable hand-held systems, or for fully automated inspection and measuring solutions. The company is using MACH as the launch-pad for two new business divisions, each dedicated to applications within the QC sector.

3D Scanning – More Data, More Knowledge
The new ‘Portable Metrology Division’, which focuses on portable hand-held measuring systems, will be showing the latest Creaform 3D measurement and scanning systems. In particular, the MetraSCAN 3D is proving to be the fastest and most versatile portable scanning system available, being able to scan parts from typically 300 mm up to 10 m in size, and able to deal with any material or surface – castings, sheet metal, composites, machined surfaces, plastics, in fact just about anything. When paired up with the hand-held HandyPROBE arm-free portable CMM, the combination provides everything a metrology engineer needs in terms of dimensional inspection.
In addition, the HandySCAN 3D is still proving to be the leading hand-held 3D scanner for metrology applications. The HandySCAN 3D revolution started almost 4 years ago, and even today there is no scanner that can come close to the accuracy, speed and in particular portability of this amazing hand-held and arm-free scanning technology.
Portable scanning technologies are now rivalling traditional measurement methods, with high speed data acquisition of around 500,000 points per second possible and accuracies in the order of tens of microns. Application specialists from MSL’s Portable Metrology Division will be on-hand to provide live demonstrations on real parts using these amazing technologies. Visitors can see the speed and data quality that can be easily achieved by anybody with minimal training.

Automation – The Robots Are Coming
Human intervention during production has for several years been replaced by automated robot systems in applications such as material handling, welding, assembly and so on, but measurement technologies have only recently been able to offer an open door to the world of industrial robots. While the traditional method of measurement is to remove parts from the production line and measure them in a dedicated measuring room, demands from production are for faster ‘in process’ measurements. However, programming robots is not easy, especially for metrology engineers and QC teams who are used to using CMM software. Similarly, experienced robot programmers do not have the necessary metrology experience to understand the requirements of QC and inspection. The problem is further complicated by the vast array of robot makes and models, and also the various scanning technologies that are appearing more and more frequently.
In order to deal with this demand, MSL’s new ‘Metrology Integration Division’ is dedicated to providing metrology solutions based on automated QC applications. Irrespective of whether the requirement is for a traditional CNC CMM or for an in-process industrial robot, the Division’s engineers have the knowledge and software tools to ‘make it happen’. Using the latest Metrolog X4 i-Robot software as the common software platform, any robot and any scanning device can be combined to create a high-speed 3D scanning solution. With off-line programming and simulation available, plus PLC integration with device interfaces to directly drive and control the robot and measuring equipment, the team are able to offer an ‘all-in-one’ measuring solution for AQC.
“We are independent from all of the robot and measuring device manufacturers,” explains Dave Harper, who is leading the Metrology Integration Division. “Consequently, we can take any robot with any device, and combine them into a fully integrated measuring system, such that they are programmed by metrology technicians just like a traditional CMM.”
As part of the launch at MACH, MSL will be showing an automated robot cell with a 3D scanner, fully programmed and directly operated through Metrolog X4 i-Robot. The Metrology Integration Division will also be showing how Metrolog X4 can be equally applied to traditional CMMs and a range of portable measuring devices, so users have the possibility to use a single software platform across multiple measuring technologies, from portable arms to CMMs to AQC industrial robots.

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