QMT Features: March 2007
Retrofit your CMM
Entry level CAD-based CMM retrofit software can bring your existing CMM up-to-date at a fraction of the cost of a new machine


A visit to any engineering site will reveal a vast array of machine tools, with an ongoing investment in new machines, modern tooling, CADCAM, DNC links, pallet loading, and much more – all purchased to fulfil specific production needs and to keep up with modern and future manufacturing requirements.

A quick look into the inspection room often reveals a completely different story – the CMM. To the majority of companies, the CMM is a once in a lifetime opportunity to own the ultimate piece of inspection equipment, purchased with a view to solving a myriad of inspection problems. However, as manufacturing technology improves, the CMM quickly loses pace with production requirements, and what was originally adequate software soon becomes limited in its capabilities. In particular, old software cannot cope with new operating systems, CAD integration or new probe technologies. The option to replace a machine is an obvious one, but totally unrealistic for many smaller companies. However, a much easier and cost-effective solution is possible. Overnight, an out-dated machine can be turned into something as good as new, at a fraction of the cost of buying a new machine, with the added benefit of        continuous software development that maintains your CMM’s status as a high technology measuring  system.

Affordable upgrade

The case for an entry-level CMM software retrofit is clearly evident. At present, users really only have two choices – high level software that is expensive to purchase, or cheap software that is simply not up to the job with little in the way of support or future development. With this in mind, the developers of Metrolog XG, the specialist CMM retrofit software, decided to package a CMM retrofit for entry level inspection applications, where all the ‘bells and whistles’ of Metrolog XG are simply not required. “Many users will never have the need to use the latest technology, such as laser and scanning probes, but they still need access to a comprehensive CAD based measuring system that is supported by an experienced market leader” comments Iain Caville, managing director of Measurement Solutions, the UK based distributor and support partner for Metrolog XG.

The all new Microlog XG CMM software has been developed specifically for smaller CMMs and portable measuring arms, as these machines are generally used on relatively straightforward applications. With a fully integrated CAD engine to enable users to import 3D CAD models with ease, the software has been designed to provide operators with a simplified user interface that retains most of the measuring power of higher cost, higher level software.

The two key elements of the software are ease of installation, and ease of use. Microlog XG’s makers say it is the first ‘plug and play’ CMM software that directly interfaces with most makes and types of CMM controller. This means that any manual or CNC machine from manufacturers such as Hexagon, LK, Mitutoyo, Zeiss, Stiefelmayer, Wenzel, Sheffield, plus many others, can now be quickly upgraded without the need for expensive hardware upgrades. In those cases where the controller hardware is already obsolete, Measurement Solutions has a range of controller upgrades that can have a CNC machine up and running again within a few days. The software also lends itself  to portable measuring arms, with a suite of special tools dedicated to the type of measurements often performed with these devices. Once again, direct interfaces are readily available for all types of arm – Faro, Romer, Cimcore, Garda, etc. 

The user interface has also been designed with simplicity in mind. Unlike traditional CMM software where numerous windows are often on display, Microlog XG only has 2 windows – a graphic CAD display, and a special Action Panel that is the only window requiring operator interaction. All common measuring functions have been allocated to the function keys on a standard PC keyboard, so the user has direct access to the measuring functions without the need to search through menus. During a measurement, the Action Panel displays real-time feedback with information regarding the quality of the measurement, if a bad point is taken, etc. Once a measurement is completed, the user can even go back and measure more points on the same feature to improve the quality of the data.

Microlog XG is equally at home with or without CAD data. If a CAD model is available, measurement results are automatically superimposed on the model. To measure a feature, the user simply chooses it by clicking on the CAD model, and then probes the feature accordingly – with a CNC machine, the software will automatically instruct the machine to measure the feature. But even without CAD data, the software will routinely create a 3D drawing of the part being measured as each feature is being probed. These features can then be selected directly from the graphics screen in the case of constructions, distances and angles, etc.

Despite being described as ‘entry-level’ software, Microlog XG still includes many powerful functionalities to deal with most applications, including measurement of free form surfaces, sections and profiles, calculation of basic GD&T, expansion and shrinkage, plus multiple alignments including best fit, RPS, geometric etc.  l

email: sales@measurement-solutions.co.uk
www.measurement-solutions.co.uk

  
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