QMT Features: December 2014
The essence of precision
A specialist manufacturer has added multi-sensor measurement

Chemical etching specialist, Precision Micro, has recently invested over £100K in a state-of-the-art dimensional measurement system.  The measuring system selected was from multi-sensor measurement technology experts Optical Gaging Products (OGP). Various attributes made it the best fit for Precision Micro’s needs, including its speed and repeatability. It was also found to be easy to use, the machine being driven from customer CAD data. Inspection programmes can be loaded directly into the machine, and are fully editable, providing obvious benefits to both customer and Precision Micro.

This also has a huge positive impact in cycle times, and makes the entire measuring process more accurate and reliable by minimising the chance of human error. Any automated system is welcomed as it also frees up quality engineers for other mission critical tasks.

The OGP technology is Precision Micro’s fifth CMM, and there are plans for a sixth in 18 months. The overall plan is to place these CMMs at strategic points throughout the production process in order to move towards greater and greater automation.

Precision Micro’s existing CMMs have a bed size of 600 x 600 mm, and output text data which had to be extracted and input into other documents for analysis. The OGP machine has a bed size of 1500 x 900 mm giving Precision Micro greater scope to measure larger batches of components, again allowing reduced lead times and associated cost savings. It also allows the company to etch components up to 1500 x 600 mm, which is possibly the largest available component size or sheet size of any service provider globally.
This removes previous constraints on product design and optmises the manufacturing process for numerous clients. In addition, the OGP machine gives live process data rather than text data, and has built-in control charts and statistical analysis software.

The machine overlays inspection data on-top of the original CAD file, and allows precise analysis of variation between design intent and manufactured component. Automatic reports are then produced in a clear and easy to analyse format.

The new technology can also detect features that it was previously impossible to pick out. It can detect tonal differences on a component to help in the location of the desired measurement point.
The investment in the OGP technology was driven in part by a leading aerospace customer for a challenging aluminium etching project. The application required the inspection of six zones with numerous features as well as the overall profile of each part. Using previously purchased CMMs it took about 600% more time to inspect each part when compared with the OGP machine. In addition, with the larger bed size, instead of parts being inspected one by one, larger numbers (and even full production batches of parts) can be analysed at the same time.

For many sectors that Precision Micro serves speedy time-to-market and absolute precision need to be delivered with 100% verification and zero failure rates. The new measurement machine helps to ensure competitiveness and cost-effective part manufacture, while at the same time reducing cycle times.
Photochemical etching as a manufacturing process is characterised by its ability to manufacture complex and feature-rich parts. For critical applications, it has to adhere to extremely tight tolerances and produce (verifiably) accurate parts in volume with minimal or no wastage. OGP’s technology pushes Precision Micro’s capabilities further into these exacting markets.
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