QMT Features: July 2016
Tracking machining performance
A leading research institute is using a laser tracker in its work on machine tool performance

The University of Huddersfield’s Centre for Precision Technologies (CPT) is widely acknowledged as a leading centre for research into precision engineering, metrology and machine tool performance. The CPT carries out research into technical problems in the field of machine tool accuracy and performance for companies such as Machine Tool Technologies Ltd (MTT).

The CPT’s track record includes the development of a Volumetric Compensation System (VCS). This maps both geometrical and thermally-induced positional errors in machine tools and corrects for those errors within the machine tool controller.

The multi-disciplinary CPT team has access to a wide range of specialist equipment, including a highly accurate
Andrew Bell, senior applications engineer at the CPT, says: “The work of the CPT has led to the development of new methods of applying the principles of metrology to machine tools. Our researchers sit on ISO and BSI technical committees as well as the government advisory board for the National Measurement System. Over the last 15 years the CPT has delivered £15 million in research and enterprise activity, published over 400 journal papers and worked collaboratively with many world leading companies.

“Although the CPT’s many achievements can be attributable to the knowledge, hard work and dedication of its staff, our work has been supported by the range of advanced equipment to which we have access. Having identified the need to purchase a high-accuracy laser tracker, we considered several alternative options that were able to precisely scan large structures. The impressive accuracy specification, speed and ease of use of the FARO ION, and an excellent extended practical demonstration, convinced us that this advanced tracking interferometer was the ideal tool for our needs.

The CPT’s measuring routines often demand high standards of precision over large distances. The required levels of precision is achievable as the FARO Laser Tracker ION has a volumetric accuracy of 0.049mm at 10m and a diameter range of110m when used with selected targets.

The flexible Laser Tracker ION is able to be used in restricted enclosed spaces. Andrew Bell explains: “As we need to take measurements inside machine tools when making both static and dynamic performance checks, in addition to its speed of use and accuracy, it helps that the FARO unit is relatively light. Also that it has a range of versatile mounting options enabling it to be used in awkward and confined areas.”

The FARO ION is an extremely accurate, portable coordinate measuring machine that is ideal for a multitude of measuring tasks, such as machine tool alignment, press alignment, jig and fixture alignment and robot verification. The Laser Tracker is able to quickly generate accurate trend analyses’ of distortion and other changes in a machine’s operation.

The advanced Tracker uses a laser beam to measure the coordinates of large components, equipment and machines in 3D using a spherical reflector. The light weight FARO ION features an extended measurement range and uses ADM (Agile Absolute Distance Measurement). ADM is said to be the fastest method for calculating a position in 3D in real time, enabling rapid measurements to be taken in a dynamic mode when a machine is running.
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