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Better Accuracy from Big Machines

Holding tight tolerances across travels such as these can be challenging.

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Holding tight tolerances across travels such as these can be challenging.

In theory, the owner of a large router, gantry mill or similar big machine tool could improve the volumetric accuracy of that machine by error mapping the machine through laser measurement.

In practice, this is difficult to do. Producing error maps is—or used to be—a time-consuming and complicated exercise for three-axis machines, let alone five-axis machines.

Now, a group of U.S. military facilities, plus manufacturing technology companies including Automated Precision Inc., MAG Industrial Automation and Siemens Energy & Automation—all led by the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences (NCMS)—has developed a simplified system for improving the accuracy of large machines.

The process involves using a laser tracker to follow the machine’s moves through a specific series of five-axis poses. Control algorithms interpret the data, compensating for error throughout the work zone. Upgrading an existing machine’s precision through this process can be done in one or two days.

MAG Industrial now offers the fast compensation as a service to customers.