While CMMs are extremely flexible as measuring systems go, and certainly provide the means to acquire a lot of dimensional data quickly, most shops have a hard time justifying more than one or two machines, even if they are designed for the shop floor. If Carl Zeiss IMT Corp. (Minneapolis, Minnesota) has its way, however, these same measurement capabilities will be found all over the shop, though not quite in the form of a conventional CMM. Rather, it's the new ScanMax, which the company refers to as "the world's first repeatable, flexible manual scanning gage." The gage is designed to be used by operators on the shop floor to perform in-process inspections—verifying dimension, form and position on one machine.
The device is said to achieve accuracy to two microns and repeatability to one micron within its 20-inch spherical measuring range. It requires very little skill to operate and virtually no setup. All that is required to execute a measuring routine is for the operator to manually follow the contour of the workpiece with the probe, which is a miniaturized version of Zeiss' VAST probe head. As the probe scans the workpiece, the system software automatically records the measurement data, capturing up to 1,000 points in three seconds.
The measuring device features a new lightweight, articulated-arm design, scanning technology and intelligent ScanWare. It is also designed to be compact so that it can easily fit in a range of locations throughout the shop. It is fully enclosed to resist contamination, and is also resistant to thermal influences by virtue of its construction of carbon fiber reinforced plastic and ceramic materials.
Capable of working with different probes, the intelligent ScanWare system software can automatically identify which probe is being used, whether the probe is in contact with one or two points, the measurement force being applied, and the shape of the scanned element. The software offers three modes of operation. The 3D measuring slide mode is intended for taking fast measurements. The repeat measurement mode is for inspections following a set routine; it graphically guides the operator through the program with no need for keyboard input. And the universal mode enables complex measuring tasks to be performed.
The software offers all the benefits of scanning, such as recording the full part contour with form deviation, the recognition of geometries, fast measuring times and high resistance to vibrations. Moreover, it is capable of online data evaluation. Software capabilities can be further extended with special programs to measure contours and free-form surfaces as well as to output measurement data to statistical process control and CAD systems via interfaces.