QMT Features: December 2009
Tracker heaven
Virtually uninterrupted measurement, even in large volumes, is the promise of new laser tracker technology from Leica Geosystems

Portable 3D measurement systems for the shopfloor have progressed enormously over the last few years, bringing precision measurement to large and mid volume volume structures, such as aerospace wings and automotive car bodies.  Laser tracker systems are at the forefront of technological development , for example, with the introduction of local measurement devices such as walk around and held probing systems.  

Thermal stability and robustness are a characteristics of tracker technology based on the integration of absolute distant metering and laser interferometry. However, one  drawback,  up to now, has been beam breakage. Current laser tracker technology requires that the operator pays careful attention that the laser beam between the tracker and the target is not interrupted. Catching the beam requires the operator to find the laser beam, and then physically pass the target through the beam before the tracker can start measuring again. According to some users, this process interruption can account for up to 20% of their total measurement time.

Now Leica Geosystems have brought a new product to market, Powerlock which addresses this issue. The Leica Absolute Tracker is equipped with PowerLock which prevents  such interruptions. By utilizing a vision system built into the Leica Absolute Tracker, the sensor can  determine where a target is without the need for the laser beam to be locked on.

The Leica Absolute Tracker locks on to the target automatically as soon as it is within view of the sensor. This allows the operator to focus on the part they need to measure without constantly worrying about the laser tracker and whether or not they have broken the beam.  “This revolutionary vision system works with all standard reflectors and all Leica T-products and can deliver  huge time savings during inspection and assembly processes,” said Steve Schickel, UK sales manager for portable metrology systems at Hexagon Metrology. 

Powerlock’s first showing in the UK was  at  the Airbus LVMC 2009 conference held in Chester November 3 & 4th where it attracted considerable interest from the delegates as they practised breaking and re-engaging the laser tracker beam on the exhibition floor. 

Leica say that any Leica Absolute Tracker purchased will be upgraded to this functionality free of charge at release. All Leica Absolute Trackers in the market will be able to be upgraded to this technology for a small charge in a local Hexagon Metrology service centre.l
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