MMS Blog

Readers turn to MMS primarily for information about metalcutting technology. That said, the typical manufacturing operation also depends on more common, peripheral technology that’s important to any business, yet can cause particular problems in manufacturing if it doesn’t perform adequately. Every once in a while, you’ll find coverage of that sort of thing here, right alongside topics like CAD/CAM, EDM, cutting tools and so forth.

In one recent example, a case study details how a heavy-duty vacuum has helped one manufacturer eliminate ergonomic hazards, reduce the risk of injury, increase uptime, reduce labor, and improve product quality, all while contributing to a healthier, cleaner work environment. Another example covers a shop that’s typically outside our coverage area, yet its story is very relevant. This shop swapped old halide fixtures for an “intelligent” LED lighting system that has made employees’ jobs easier while reducing overall lighting costs.

The unit works this way: A user places a workpiece to be inspected inside the box-like chamber and shuts the door. Similar to choosing cooking time, the user chooses the desired inspection resolution. Then, within the unit, the part begins to rotate on a turntable as it is scanned from above and below. After two to three minutes, the cycle is done. There is a “ding” noting the cycle is complete, and the output is a PolyWorks inspection report detailing the complete 3D measurement of the part to an accuracy within 0.001 inch.

Laser Design President C. Martin Schuster welcomes the microwave-oven comparison—he uses it himself. He hopes the comparison can help convey the ease-of-use of a gage that he says represents “a new category of metrology device.” In his words, the promise of this device is “super easy, complete inspection on the production floor.”

Automation doesn’t have to involve an intricate or complex system. This video from Royal Products shows the operation of an automatic bar puller—a device that essentially enables a CNC lathe to grip and stage the workpiece for its next machining cycle.

Two different CMM scanning heads from the same manufacturer have the same level of measurement uncertainty, but only one offers the ability to articulate on its own. The other requires stylus extensions—sometimes lengthy, complex extensions that take time and effort to properly configure—in order to ensure the probe tip approaches the work at a normal (perpendicular) vector. If purchasing decisions could be based solely on capability, why would anyone choose the non-articulating head, even if the application doesn’t involve exceptionally complex geometry or multiple approach angles? 

Because the quality lab isn’t the real world, whatever the quoted level of uncertainty, and because there’s good reason why some scanners are designed to leave stylus positioning mostly to the CMM’s own axes. So says Kevin Donovan, senior technical sales engineer with Carl Zeiss. Known as active scanning systems, these models’ complex internals prevent the head itself from articulating like their passive cousins, which rely on a static system of springs and displacement sensors to gather part data. Active scanning, he explains, adds finesse to the proceedings in a different way:  by maintaining an even, user-specified level of force on the workpiece surface throughout the scanning routine, even absent a nominal. Given this capability, active scanners rely less on compensating software algorithms.

Additive manufacturing (AM) can reproduce parts designed for more conventional methods like machining or injection molding, but is that the best use of the technology for production? Marc Saunders, director of global solutions centers for Renishaw, sees reproduction of existing parts as just one way of deploying additive manufacturing.

In a presentation delivered at the 2016 Additive Manufacturing Conference, Mr. Saunders outlined three approaches to additive manufacturing for production. They are: