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QMT Products: March 2008
3D video inspection raises productivity


In order to speed first-off inspection, monitoring of production and to automatically collate inspection reports and SPC data, Unicut Precision has installed an OGP SmartScope Flash 200 video 3-D inspection centre at its Welwyn Garden City subcontract machining operation.

Said Jason Nicholson, joint managing director:  “The type of parts we are now producing in single hit, often unmanned cycles can require 60 or more dimensions to be checked that can take several hours for first-off qualification.  Production time is also lost with the machine idle if there are changes to be made and so this installation of measuring equipment provides a good payback by improving our productivity and further shortening lead times.”

The Flash 200 has a measuring envelope of 200 mm by 200 mm by 150 mm and combines a Renishaw touch probe, CCD high resolution colour camera and programmable light source giving up to 256 times magnification.  This is qualified by Jason Nicholson as being critical to monitor burrs and sharp edges which are removed automatically whenever possible in-cycle on the 18 CNC machines installed in the machine shop.  The 3-D measuring machine is also fully programmable to incorporate touch and non-contact cycles with different light sources to provide the best illumination and will automatically calculate and present measuring reports.

Unicut’s business is drawing in ever-more complex components where its single operation philosophy ensures good size and geometrical relationship.   Says joint managing director, Charles Kenny,  “We are contouring and producing angles and blends that are difficult to measure conventionally.  Also we can have very critical intersection holes and slots where breakthroughs must be burr-free.  Our inspection processes need to be as automated as our machining cycles and not open to individual interpretation.”

Unicut’s investment programme has seen its capacity increased to 64 mm bar size for mill/turning with 14 Citizen and two Star CNC sliding head automatic lathes, a Miyano ABX-64 and BNJ-42 multi-axis turning centre.  There is also installed a Durr Minio programmable component cleaning system as well as a materials handling system at the Welwyn Garden City plant. 

The company also has fully computerised management and scheduling software.  To which Charles Kenny adds:  “The installation of the measuring centre is one of the last links in the drive to automate our machining operations – our next investments will add further polish to our production processes.”
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