Machinists typically need to do plenty of preparation before doing an initial run which involves checking parts and critical features. Various surfaces need to be spot checked and roundness or concentricity has to be confirmed. Most of the time these variables can be tested with a hand gauge however complex complaints may require a more advanced method.
For example, a toolmaker may want to measure a radius of a form tool they are making or maybe they’re grinding a cutter. In these cases, a walk-up metrology instrument is necessary, one that is both adaptable and has the ability to run a wide range of measurements. A good example of instruments that work well for walk-up metrology on the shop floor is Starrett Kinemetric Engineering’s AVR and MVR lines of 2D vision systems. Additionally, the use of equipment such as a helium neon laser can be useful when it comes to metrology. These machines range from manual to full CNC and they offer the unique ability for the toolmaker to walk up, place their part on the stage, image the radius of the cutter and quickly take the measurement.
The core idea of the concept, especially for CNC machines, puts as much emphasis on software for the system as in the machine itself. The software makes the machine relatively simple to use with minimal training. Systems operators are able to touch the feature they are seeing on the screen and measure it right there.
Although, manufacturers want true cost-effectiveness from their machines which requires them to be adaptable for higher volume production. “You may have an inspector who wants to perform a first article inspection at 100% on several parts—say, 10 or 20 parts. That inspector can write a part program on the same machine and create a measuring sequence to measure the first part, with all the needed data and report formatting. When done, the user can save the part program and subsequently measure the rest of the batch of parts,” said Mark Arenal, general manager for Starrett Kinemetric Engineering “This equipment will be more valuable to a company if [it can accommodate] multiple users and their jobs can be inspected.” (http://bit.ly/2CFuIdR)
Walk-up metrology machines offer many benefits on a shop floor, especially time-saving and efficiency boosts thanks to the ease and accuracy of the devices. They also help business owners connect their shop floors even further with the machines ability to transfer data that aids in record keeping and process control. These systems also let more savvy engineers take advantage of the third dimension which a simple caliper would not be able to achieve.
While not the right choice for every manufacturing business, it is hard to ignore the value that walk-up metrology machines can offer. Not only can they help improve the speed and efficiency of a shop floor, but their ability to connect to the cloud and help store analytics and various measurements is incredibly powerful for the manufacturer looking to begin their smart manufacturing journey. For those interested in purchasing one of these machines there are a variety of companies that offer these excellent tools such as the aforementioned Starrett Kinemetric Engineering as well as ZEISS Industrial Metrology, QVII, Creaform Inc., Keyence Corp. of America, and Mitutoyo America Corp.