QMT Features: March 2011
Norton measures up
UK CMM manufacturer, Aberlink agrees a Technology Partnership with Norton Motorcycles to support high production output.


Following the conclusion of a multi-million pound deal the famous Norton motorcycle brand returned to British ownership in 2009. Already the owner of Norton Racing Ltd, UK based businessman and entrepreneur Stuart Garner purchased all of the trademarks to the celebrated Norton, Manx, Atlas, Commando and Dominator brands.

Wasting no time in fulfilling the latent, global demand for Norton bikes, Stuart has exploited the outstanding design talent available at Norton Racing and enlisted the expertise of renowned F1 engine builders, MCT. The fruits of this technical development partnership are the company’s new, state-of-the-art road bike series of 961cc Norton Commando machines.

To enable the burgeoning operation to satisfy the world-wide consumer demand for their advanced new road bikes,  Norton have made a substantial  investment in equipping their Donington Park based, 15000 sq foot headquarters and manufacturing facility with the best possible equipment.  Helping to keep pace with the high output from Norton’s  range of Hardinge CNC Machine Tools is an advanced Axiom Too Coordinate Measuring Machine . This CMM was recently  installed under a Technology Partnership deal with UK CMM manufacturer, Aberlink Innovative Metrology.

Development speeded up
Stuart Garner, CEO of Norton Motorcycles reports, "Our Aberlink CMM has allowed us to move our World Super Bike, rotary engine development program forward much more efficiently. With great ease, we can now very accurately, and equally importantly, quickly measure the effects of testing on our engines. After measuring the 3D geometry of our components before we assemble them into an engine, we put the engine under test. This may be an endurance test, a simulation of a range of various environments, race conditions tests, or any number of other scenarios.

On completion of the tests, we totally strip the engine down and return the components to the CMM, allowing the machine to very accurately determine any dimensional variations caused by wear or distortion. This invaluable information is then fed back into our computer based design process, enabling future improvements to our engine design, with the overall goal of achieving maximum performance potential.  The main benefit the Aberlink CMM brings is the ease, speed and accuracy in which we can now complete these important stages of our engine development process. Our experienced engineers are specialist in engine design and development, therefore we require a system which is user friendly, gives rapid streams of pertinent information, while offering all the advanced functionality we need.”

Aberlink’s Axiom Too CMM achieves high measuring accuracies through the use of the latest metrology techniques and advanced in-house manufacturing methods. An all aluminium bridge with a very low thermal mass, renders it ideal for use either in controlled environments or within less than perfect shop-floor conditions. The machine’s reduced inertia design results high speed of operation. Utilising technology, borrowed from the aerospace industry, the Axiom Too’s component support consists of an advanced granite/aluminium honeycomb construction, providing natural damping and further improving the machine’s thermal properties.

Despite the Axiom Too’s measuring volume of 640x900x500mm  , the machine occupies a relatively small footprint, with its controller and peripherals housed within the Axiom Too’s workbench.

Intelligent measurement
Aberlink’s 3-D Windows based, intuitive software is  designed around a graphical interface.   Features include the ability to carry out a CMM inspection routine whilst simultaneously viewing  a picture of the measured component on the computer screen. Dimensions between the measured features, mirroring those that appear on the component drawing, are then picked off as required. In essence, Aberlink’s software represents an intelligent measuring system that is able to automatically recognise and define the various features being measured.Easy to use, Aberlink say a complete novice is usually able to perform relatively involved measurement routines after just 5 minutes training.

Steve Bower, manufacturing manager at Norton Motorcycles machining facility said, "We are rapidly increasing production and working around the clock to meet order books for the 961 Commandos. When the Aberlink CMM arrived we had a backlog of parts to inspect, but because the machine’s software is extremely user friendly, it took very little time to create all the required inspection programs. As our Axiom Too is a full CNC machine, we can now simply put follow-on batches of parts on to the machine bed and they are inspected automatically, and when checking smaller components, we are able to load multiple parts at one time. Although I have little previous experience of programming a CMM, I have been amazed at how quickly I have been able to master even relatively complicated measuring procedures.

Aberlink’s 3D software creates it’s own programmed path and a model of the part as you measure it, the program generated by the software can then be ran as a conventional CMM program. In additional to being an invaluable tool for the development of prototype work, the Axiom Too is incredibly versatile and takes almost no programming time at all, making it the perfect inspection tool for our Manufacturing facility.”l

www.aberlink.
www.nortonmotorcycles.com

  
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