Manufacturing Professionals Needed, but Measurement Professionals Really Needed
Quality standards based on model-based definition are only increasing the need for skilled inspection professionals. This college recently added a course in computer-assisted inspection.
As part of its Machine Tool Technology curriculum, Cerritos College of Norwalk, California, offers a course specifically devoted to computer-assisted inspection using Verisurf software. Based in nearby Anaheim, Verisurf offers software for inspecting complex forms by comparing the part to the nominal CAD model. The company helped the college develop this course’s content. Doing this was in the company’s interest, of course, but perhaps not for the reason you might expect.
Rather than getting future manufacturing professionals comfortable with any particular software, company president Ernie Husted says the more pressing need is simply to seed the manufacturing labor pool with more people who are knowledgeable about inspection. Quality assurance standards based on model-based definition (what Boeing calls Digital Product Definition) are increasing the need for people skilled with modern manufacturing metrology tools. Mr. Husted says customers routinely come to him, and to others in the company, asking if they know of any metrology professionals fitting this description who are available to hire. U.S. manufacturing will be vulnerable if this need cannot be met, he says.
That is why, within the overall lack of skilled manufacturing employees, he sees the lack of skilled inspection professionals as being the shortfall that is truly critical. A machining operation that lacks skilled oversight can often be systemized in some way so that a less skilled employee can carry it out. However, when this is done, it remains just as vital—and perhaps it becomes even more vital—to have someone at the end of the process who can validate the operation by measuring and documenting that the part was produced as intended. Mr. Husted says manufacturers are discovering that there aren’t many people out there who have the knowledge to do this.
While countersunk and chamfered holes are similar in appearance, functionally they are quite different. Consequently, different gages exist to serve these different functional requirements.
The irregularity of a machined surface is the result of the machining process, including the choice of tool; feed and speed of the tool; machine geometry; and environmental conditions. This irregularity consists of high and low spots machined into a surface by the tool bit or a grinding wheel.
A laser scanning system helps this shop capture the free-form surfaces on a hand-sculpted original. The resulting digitized models are the basis for CAM applications such as programming a CNC machining center.