Today’s Overkill May Be Tomorrow’s Competitive Edge

In the process of significantly advancing on-machine probing capabilities, this shop has set itself up to achieve future goals as well.


Facebook Share Icon LinkedIn Share Icon Twitter Share Icon Share by EMail icon Print Icon


Dynamic Tool & Design has yet to realize the full capabilities of its new on-machine probes and software.

Although the future is always uncertain, Dynamic Tool & Design is a shop that knows where it wants to go, and it’s not afraid to invest in order to get there. At least, that’s the message I took from this plastic injection mold manufacturer’s recent addition of on-machine probing capabilities that exceed anything required on the floor right now.

That investment consisted of new probes and software for hard milling machines, graphite milling machines and sinker EDMs. As detailed in this June-issue feature article, this technology was required to move beyond just “indicating” workpieces (i.e., “finding zero”) and into full 3D part measurements. In turn, capability for these measurements has reduced downtime on individual machines and boosted the shop’s overall throughput.

However, the article quotes John Kemeny, hard milling department supervisor, as saying that the PC-DMIS software driving the probes is “overkill to some extent.” Purchased along with the new probes from Hexagon Metrology, this is the same system used to program the shop’s CMM, and it’s no less powerful. In fact, only a portion of the software’s capability is required for in-process inspections that are more about avoiding errors and keeping the process moving than passing final judgment on mold components and electrodes. Although these inspections could also be performed with the shop’s previous on-machine metrology software, or perhaps another less costly and less capable system, the investment in PC-DMIS was about more than what’s needed today. Leadership was also thinking about how the process might look tomorrow.

Currently, the 13 automated machines targeted for new probes stand alone with their carousel-style robots. Unlike the shop’s previous software, PC-DMIS could potentially enable these physically isolated workstations to automatically share offsets and other data gleaned from in-process measurements via standardized pallets with radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags. This capability could potentially also ease a transition toward multi-process cells that incorporate multiple machines of different types, should the shop choose to go that route. The software can also accommodate five-axis motion, were the shop to ever invest in that type of machine. And whatever the future holds, using the same software for both floor inspections and final quality control helps ensure no discrepencies with measurements taken on the CMM. 

First, of course, the rest of the 13 machines have to be fitted with probes (so far, only four have been equipped). Regardless, Dynamic Tool’s journey so far reveals a shop that’s anything but short-sighted when it comes to technology investment. After all, recognizing the benefits of on-machine verification in the first place can require an open mind and a willingness to challenge preconceived notions.  Learn more in the article.   


  • Composites Machining for the F-35

    Lockheed Martin’s precision machining of composite skin sections for the F-35 provides part of the reason why this plane saves money for U.S. taxpayers. That machining makes the plane compelling in ways that have led other countries to take up some of the cost. Here is a look at a high-value, highly engineered machining process for the Joint Strike Fighter aircraft.

  • Raising the Bar with Ballbar Testing

    Few manufacturing companies rely on ballbar testing to maintain machine tool accuracy as thoroughly as Silfex. Now, advanced training and a move to a Renishaw QC20-W wireless system have enabled the company to take the benefits of ballbar testing to a higher level.

  • Do's And Don'ts For Keeping Dial Indicators In The Game

    Just because dial indicators have been around since the early 1900s, don't expect them to fade away with the last century. This tool's long-term popularity is well earned.