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Quality Scan: Breathing New Life into Manual CMMs

 Terry Wear


 By Terry Wear
CMM Business Manager
Verisurf Software Inc.
Anaheim, CA


Manual Coordinate Measuring Machines (CMMs) are extremely well-built precision instruments. The baseplates and structures are designed to last a very long time. However, the communications, interface and operating software can become quickly outdated, lowering the device’s effectiveness in today’s production environment. There are thousands of these devices in shops and factory inspection rooms all over the country, many of them underutilized or not used at all. This fact is compounded by the popularity of portable CMMs and a growing movement toward in-process inspection right on the shop floor. Newer devices are driven by the latest metrology software, which further widens the perceived gap between the new cutting edge devices and existing manual CMM workhorses.

It is possible to breathe new life into outdated manual CMMs with an  ‘in field’ upgrade, however. Existing CMMs can be fitted with new USB communications and the latest 3D Model Based software. By getting a manual CMM upgraded and running the same software as a newer portable CMM or other devices, one can standardize data file management, reduce training time and improve efficiency in manufacturing and quality processes.

There is a growing trend, especially in aerospace and automotive, towards moving CMMs from the inspection room out onto the shop floor. Manual CMMs are being used in semi-inline applications by placing them within machining cell groups or next to a production line for in-process quality inspection. This is an excellent deployment of a current asset that many shops have sitting in a back room, right now. There are, of course, environmental considerations for each application that may include temperature fluctuation, dust and other factors but many of these challenges can be overcome with planning and expert consultation.

By upgrading a manual CMM to run new software, one can add additional functionality and productivity features that are quickly becoming requirements of manufacturing and quality engineers.

Among the benefits:

  • Model Based Definition/Inspection with associative GD&T read directly from CAD or create your own
  • Share the same software as portable CMMs, common platform
  • Read in all native CAD formats
  • Create rapid CAD alignments – with NO iterations
  • Create HTML, PDF, Excel or AS9102 reports including InspectionXpert
  • Easily create real-time display of complex profile deviations
  • Digitize, reverse engineer and create solid models
  • Operate in Windows 7 32 or 64 bit
  • Use hard probes for digitizing and scanning

In Verisurf’s case, software configurations are customized to each customer’s specific application and supported by Verisurf Metrology Engineers.

Inspection—Verisurf software supports both modern model-based measurement techniques and traditional blue print measurement processes. Measurement includes the import of any CAD model, creation of model associative GD&T, automated alignment of 3D CAD models to physical parts and real time probe position with deviation display.

Inspection Pro—Includes the functionality of Inspection with the addition of advanced 6 degree of freedom best fitting alignment, auto inspection programming, custom color deviation plots, results ballooning and analysis reporting.

Reverse Engineering—Digitize parts directly into CAD. Create, import, filter and edit point clouds. Create, import and edit STL mesh surfaces with hole filling, slicing, feature recognition and auto surfacing. Create and edit NURB surfaces including extruded, revolved and lofted surfaces. Create and edit CAD features including planes, holes, and pockets.

Inspection Pro & Reverse Engineering—Bundles all the functionality of Inspection Pro and Reverse Engineering.

The ‘in field’ upgrade is completed by a service technician and the software is configured to the customer’s specific requirements. Any minor mechanical adjustments and complete geometric compensation are completed. A Calibration Certificate is provided showing the new verified accuracy of the CMM. ME


This article was first published in the June 2013 edition of Manufacturing Engineering magazine.  Click here for PDF.

Published Date : 6/1/2013

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