North America’s manufacturing industry was in decline for decades, and might have succumbed to the forces of globalization and disappeared altogether, if automation hadn’t arrived to resuscitate it. Automation is the phenomenon by which machine labour replaces human labour due to its ability to perform tasks more efficiently. Perhaps the most common machine used in automation is the coordinate measuring machine, or CMM.
CMM machines measure the physical geometrical characteristics of an object either manually, using a human operator, or through running a computer program. On the machine’s third moving axis is a probe which scans the parts or objects in front it, and compares these coordinates to the blueprint downloaded in the machine — if there is a discrepancy, it knows the product is flawed. This makes CMM machines excellent at performing quality control tasks on the production line.
There are a range of CMM machines available, designed to measure parts ranging in size from micrometres to hundreds of feet. You should get expert advice and information on CMM equipment if you’re looking to automate aspects of your production line, and read on for a look at some of the popular CMM machines.
Portable CMMs are able to reverse engineer blueprints from already existing parts. Perhaps most famous among the portable CMM machines is the ROMER Arm, which is designed to perform quality control, inspection, on-machine verification, virtual assembly and 3D modelling.
Rugged and accurate, the arm deftly moves around the part or product, taking in the measurements of the dimensions on all sides.
Its integrated scanning system permits inspection right on the shop floor. It collects thousands of data points per second using a white light or laser system.
Bridge CMMs have been the foundation of coordinate metrology since the 1970s, and are still the most popular CMM machine today. Many industries use Bridge CMMs, because they can handle a wide range of part sizes. They also deliver the best combination of precision, reliability, and repeatability, all at a very attractive price point.
Gantry CMM machines are just like Bridge CMMs, but they scan much larger parts. The automotive and aerospace industries make use of Gantry CMMs commonly, because these production lines produce parts for cars, planes, and even spaceships.
Due to the Gantry CMM’s open access to the measuring volume, it’s easy to load parts either by crane or lift truck. These machines also require very little maintenance — guideways and drive systems are at a safe distance from contaminants and dirt.
Vision and Multisensor Systems
Parts that are just too small or delicate to be scanned with a tactile probe found on CMMs need to be scanned using a Vision and Multisensor Systems. Often, the parts are so small that they cannot be measured through physical contact. Video scanners and white light scanners are used to measure parts smaller than 600 millimetres squared in area, and less than 200 millimetres tall.
CMM machines are ultra sophisticated, and the descriptions above are just the beginning. If you’re considering buying a CMM machine to automate parts of your production line, talk to your metrology expert today and find the machine that’s right for you.