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Mike Knicker

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4 Key Benefits of Using 3D Scanning for Dimensional Measurement and Reverse Engineering

Posted by Mike Knicker on May 4, 2018 10:05:48 AM

 4 Key Benefits of Using 3D Scanning for Dimensional Measurement and Reverse Engineering

The manufacturing industry is experiencing a surge in productivity which is leading to an ever increasing need to verify that the parts being produced meet the specified requirements. When timelines are critical and tolerances are growing ever tighter, it is imperative that the quality process involved in reinforcing the part's requirements consistently adds value to manufacturing. The parts manufactured today have increasingly demanding measurements, and are outgrowing the traditional systems used to measure or reverse engineer them. 3D scanning is a cost-effective solution that brings accuracy and versatility to the evolving landscape of the metrology industry.

4 Key Benefits of 3D Scanning

  1. Coverage - In just a matter of minutes, 3D scanners can collect and measure millions of data points on the surface of an object. This efficiency was not possible before the technology was introduced, which is why it has seen such explosive growth in such a short period of time.

  2. Speed - Manual measurement takes a long time and is limited by the amount of data that can be practically collected. 3D scanning offers a fast way to automatically collect millions of data points at the speed of light. This reduces the time it would take to traditionally produce CAD models of prototypes or 2D drawings for reverse engineering. By increasing the rate of surface data acquisition, 3D scanning brings unparalleled speed to the inspection process.

  3. Accuracy - As the technology has improved, the accuracy of 3D scanning has increased over time. Currently, modern scanners provide a high degree of accuracy which is only expected to improve as the ability to collect more and better data points increases.

  4. Cost - The price of 3D scanning is competitive with other dimensional measurement technologies, especially when you factor in the time savings. Many 3D scanners are also easier to use, which helps to maintain lower training costs.

The type of 3D scanning used will be dependent on the part's surface characteristics such as reflectivity, transparency, and roughness. In some cases, structured light scanning is not an appropriate method because diffraction and reflection can affect the measurements. The best way to decide which type of scanning makes the most sense for your application is to work with a qualified 3D scanning provider that has extensive experience with multiple scanning technologies.

Since 1987, Q-PLUS Labs possesses dimensional metrology expertise and maintains cutting edge 3D scanning techniques. If you need an in-house solution for your application, as a metrology equipment reseller, Q-PLUS Labs works with cutting edge 3D scanner manufacturers to provide customers with objective information on the best fit solution for their application. Contact us today to learn how we can add value to your quality process.

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Topics: 3D Scanning, reverse engineering, dimensional measurement services

Q-PLUS Labs' Case Study: California State University, Fullerton Baja SAE Team's Measurements for New Car Build

Posted by Mike Knicker on Feb 28, 2018 4:44:00 PM

 CSUF Baja Titan Racing2018.jpg

California State University, Fullerton's SAE (Society of Engineers) Baja is off to the races with a brand new car to dominate the rugged terrain of this year's International competition track in Oregon. Engineering students from CSUF are not only faced with the task of designing and building a "single-seat, all-terrain sporting vehicle that is to be a prototype for a reliable maintainable, ergonomic, and economic production vehicle that serves the recreational user market," but they must do so while also balancing their daily classes, and for some, their jobs as well. Given such a limited amount of time to build a winning vehicle, there is even less room to spend correcting any build errors. Therefore, quality must be built into each vehicle that the SAE Baja Team designs and manufactures, and Q-PLUS Labs provides them the measurement data they need to confidently drive to victory.

Introduction

CSUF Baja Titan Racing-3-2018.jpgEvery year, a new team assembles for this legacy project where current class seniors pass on their knowledge to upcoming juniors who will in turn pass that knowledge to their lower classmen. This through the process of raising funds to acquire the components to build the vehicle to "exposure with recruiters from leading companies in the mobility industry to help land their first engineering job after graduation." Each car starts from a design concept that has been modified over the past years of competition, however each new competition requires a new car to be built from the ground up. With each competition, the students face the time consuming and challenging process of designing the car, building the chassis, welding, and various test runs.

Our Process

CSUF Baja Titan Racing-2-2018.jpgThe team's model this year is named after the mascot of California State University, Fullerton – Tuffy the Titan. The overall design for chassis is consistent with the team's past models, however the significant change this year will be the design of the gearbox. Unlike the previous models, this year's model features a smaller gearbox which consequently decreases the length from the input to the output shaft. This will also push the firewall further back and allow more leg room for the driver, which is important when driving on challenging terrain during the competition's four hour endurance course. CSUF's Baja Team approached Q-PLUS Labs to obtain measurement data for their chassis design. Using a FARO arm, Q-PLUS Labs was able to articulate the probe between the areas of the chassis to collect data on the car's body. Accurate measurements will help enable CSUF to confidently move forward with manufacturing the components dependent on these measurements, ensuring that their time is focused on the success of the California State University, Fullerton's SAE Baja team in their race this on May 30th-June 2nd.

 
 
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Topics: case studies, Faro, Cal State Fullerton, Titan Racing, dimensional measurement, reverse engineering

Q-PLUS Labs Case Study: GQ Moto Inc., 3D Scanning Takes Entrepreneurial Ideas from Designs to Finished Products

Posted by Mike Knicker on Jan 30, 2018 1:41:17 PM

 Q-PLUS Labs Case Study GQ Moto Inc., 3D Scanning Takes Entrepreneurial Ideas from Designs to Finished Products.jpg

Often times, necessity is the mother of invention. Many products are conceived out of necessity, while there are products which occur from what may seem like serendipity. With the prevalence and popularity of 3D printing among a variety of users, from elementary students to precision machine shops, the ability to develop products is becoming a more appealing and accessible process. But how does what starts as a design concept make it to the finish line as a final product? After all, an idea is only as good as its execution. Q-PLUS Labs uses 3D scanning to help with this process for the founder of GQ Moto Inc., who intends to show the story of an invention's journey, from idea to production.

Introduction

George Parstch, a pre-med student and business student turned inventor and patent holder is familiar with the dilemma of having an idea and figuring out how to execute on it. He's encountered this scenario quite a few times in his career – at least eight, to be exact. Most of these ideas came from his experience in a wide variety of fields from personal stylist and wardrobe consultant to medical device engineer. Parstch envisions bringing eight unique products to market while showing people how they can do it too through video documentary of his design's journey through development to delivery of the finished product.

Our Process

EDIT_IMG_1108_SMALL.jpg

Parstch approached Q-PLUS Labs seeking 3D scanning expertise for reverse engineering some of the prototypes he's developing. 3D scanning provides two main benefits for product development. One is reverse engineering which allows you to obtain the exact dimensions of an object so you can replicate it or in this case, improve upon it. The second benefit that 3D scanning provides for product development is dimensional inspection which aids in comparing the actual condition of a manufactured part or component to the nominal condition as defined by engineering drawings and blueprints, metal or film templates (decreasingly), digital files and 3D CAD models (increasingly), or even a master tool or part.

With a step by step documentary on how to bring new products from concept to completion, Partsch seeks to creatively innovate products used on a daily basis from menswear to children’s sports equipment. His background in medical device design, also has enabled him to develop a device that is more custom fit and functionally appealing to the user or consumer than what is currently available on the market. Q-PLUS Labs’ 3D scanning expertise enables companies like GQ Moto Inc. to get what they need for their design concept or refining their finished product. If you’d like more information about how we can use 3D scanning services as well as a wide variety of dimensional measurement services to help with your current idea or manufacturing process, click here to schedule an assessment.

 
 
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Topics: 3D scanners, 3D Scanning, 3D scanning equipment, case studies, 3d scanner, reverse engineering, dimensional inspection, case study

Qualifying Quality Inspection: Key Factors in Selecting a Dimensional Service Provider

Posted by Mike Knicker on Nov 30, 2017 2:17:26 PM

 How Does It Measure Up CMMs vs Structured Light 3D Scanners

In manufacturing industries where the difference in a decimal point may determine whether a 21st century elite battleship sinks or floats, quality is as integral as the bolts that bind that vessel together. Finding a dimensional inspection lab that can not only proficiently provide a variety of services, but also do so reliably and consistently can prove to be a daunting task if you are not equipped with the right criteria. Although each manufacturer has different dimensional inspection priorities, there are a few key factors to consider in finding out if a dimensional inspection provider will help you operate more efficiently and possibly save you both time and cost in the process.

Key qualities to consider when selecting a dimensional inspection service provider are:

  • Industry Expertise - Almost any engineer can perform basic dimensional inspection with a little training. In fact, there are many reasons engineers benefit from learning more about metrology. However, dimensional inspection in the context of the manufacturing world is an entirely different story. You need a partner that understands industry-specific requirements, manufacturing methods, and can interpret engineering drawings properly. If they are already familiar with the factors involved in measuring your application, the expertise of your dimensional service provider can help in maintaining a tight production schedule. An experienced provider will be able to not only provide you with a detailed measurement report, but also advice on how the results may directly affect your application.
  • Modern Equipment - Although the field of dimensional measurement has existed since even before the first standardized measuring tools were created, the technology is constantly evolving. A facility that doesn't stay on the cutting edge of 3D scanning technology and all the other measurement technologies and methods may not be able to provide the most efficient and accurate services. Look for a lab that regularly updates its equipment inventory so that you can get the best service now and in the future.
  • Attention to Detail - Even the smallest cut corner can have a major impact on a manufacturing process, which is why working with a provider that is as committed to the little details as you are is so important. As the world of manufacturing in progressing more into the nano realm than ever before, it is important to consider a provider who can offer both accuracy and insight into the needs for dimensional inspection across the size scale for manufacturing.
  • Broad Capabilities - As the world of manufacturing is progressing more into the nano realm than ever before, it is important to consider a provider who can offer both accuracy and insight into the needs for dimensional inspection across the entire size scale for manufacturing.
  • ISO 17025 Accreditation - An ISO 17025-accredited lab must meet certain quality standards so that you can be confident that your project will get the attention it deserves. ISO 17025 accreditation meets and exceeds the requirements of ISO 9001. Although many dimensional measurement facilities achieve ISO 9001 registration, not as many make the extra effort for ISO 17025 accreditation. The advantages of using an ISO 17025 accredited lab are numerous. For example, each measurement machine in a scope of accreditation must be subject to rigorous measurement uncertainty studies and round-robin testing in addition to accredited calibration.
  • Technological Aptitude - Metrology technology and equipment are constantly evolving, which means there are always new ways to do the job better, faster, or in a more affordable manner. Look for a partner that has competence in all the modern methods of dimensional inspection using the latest technology so you can reap the benefits.
  • Forward Thinking - The manufacturing process requires many steps, and to get it right the first time, you must have foresight and think strategically. Look for a provider that is invested in the whole process, not just the measurement tasks you require. An experienced dimensional metrology provider should be able to consider all factors when it comes to measuring your application, and provide you with a coherent plan that includes aspects such as your budget, your team's experience, and overall quality goals.
  • Qualified Employees - Dimensional measurement requires both training and experience. Make sure your provider is staffed with technicians who have the level of expertise required for your application.
  • Prompt Service - Some dimensional measurement services can't happen overnight, but you should be able to communicate with your provider as often as necessary. Look for a lab that responds quickly to your inquiries and has the flexibility and capacity to provide rush services if you need them.

Poor testing procedures and inadequate equipment can cost you a lot of time and money, both in the short-term and in the long-term. In order to meet minimum quality standards you need the right equipment and a trained staff that knows how to use it.

Q-PLUS Labs has been a leading dimensional measurement laboratory since 1987; providing one place for precision measurement solutions. As a lab registered to ISO 9001 and accredited to ISO 17025, you can be certain that you will get the right dimensional measurements every time, on time. Contact us today for an assessment.

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Topics: dimensional measurement, dimensional measurement services, metrology lab, dimensional inspection equipment, measurement, inspection services, dimensional metrology, quality inspection

How Does It Measure Up: CMMs vs. Structured Light 3D Scanners

Posted by Mike Knicker on Oct 31, 2017 1:38:53 PM

 How Does It Measure Up CMMs vs Structured Light 3D Scanners

With their repeatable accuracy and programmability, coordinate measuring machines (CMMs) have universally been known as the ultimate dimensional measurement and inspection equipment by using contact probing to deliver single point by point sparse measurement data. However, 3D scanning is widely accepted as an effective, accurate, and fast way to collect and analyze measurement data. The integration of robotic technology with structured light 3D scanning systems has made tremendous progress that, under optimum circumstances with high-end equipment, now approaches the accuracies of CMMs, but captures millions of measurement points in seconds without any contact to the part. With the growing demands of accurate measurements involved in manufacturing, it is important to understand what types of measurement devices are available for your application as well as the strengths and weaknesses of each.

What is a CMM?

cmm_descrip.jpg

Coordinate measuring machines (CMMs) are mechanical systems that use a contact measuring probe and transducer technology to convert physical measurements of a surface into electrical signals that can be analyzed by specialized metrology software. CMMs range from basic XYZ read-outs utilizing hard-probes to fully automated systems with articulating continuous contact probing that can perform CAD model-based inspections. The measurement envelope of CMMs ranges from desktop systems to those large enough to measure an entire car and beyond. Since volumetric accuracy is usually stated as an equation in which the error increases as a function of size, larger CMMs generally tend to have less accuracy then smaller systems. However, just because a CMM is large does not mean it cannot also be accurate. CMMs that are large and accurate exist but certainly cost much more. While both manual (free floating) and DCC (Direct Computer Control) CMMs can be programmed, DCC-CMMs are robotically driven by motors instead of the operator. This makes for huge time savings in inspecting many of a given part configuration, over and over again. However, with power, comes responsibility. Automated measurement systems such as DCC-CMMs have the possibility of a programming error which can lead to it being misused, causing damage to the CMM or the part being measured, however newer software reduces the chances of such accidents.

The sensors for CMMs are not limited to touch probes. Advanced systems can also include continuous contact scanning probes, indexable vision sensors, laser scanning heads, and even surface finish probes. CMMs measure points and DCC-CMMs can control the direction in which these points are measured. Everything else is in the software, which makes the features of the software integral to the machine's output. It's important that the software offer the right combination of power and ease of use. All CMM software provides for taking measurements of points and basic geometry such as planes, circles, and lines, as well as cylinders, spheres, cones, and more. Operations are then performed on the geometrical elements which are then generated into dimensional readings, compared against design tolerances, and distilled into reports. Newer CMM software allows for model based inspection where the CMM measurements and program are written using a 3D CAD model of the part of interest. Special software modules exist for complex parts containing airfoils, gears, or free-form non-prismatic geometry. However, contact sensors generally do not work well for dimensional inspection applications where the object is soft, elastic, or extremely small.

What Is a Structured Light 3D Scanner?

Structured Light 3D Scanner

One of the most common types of non-contact 3D scanning is structured light scanning. Sometimes also called white light or blue light scanning, this method of 3D scanning includes a projection light source which could be either white or blue light, and involves projected light and typically 1 or 2 cameras to measure the three-dimensional surfaces of an object via triangulation. To obtain scan data via triangulation, a pattern of light is projected usually in a series of parallel lines which become distorted on the surface of the object when viewed from a perspective different from the projector. Each camera utilized captures this distortion from varying, sometimes multiple angles, and triangulates the distance of numerous points on the part being scanned. Finally, these three-dimensional coordinates are used to digitally reconstruct the details of the object. As part of the post-processing, the digital “mesh” of facets is created from these scans at multiple orientations via software which cleans the scans up, merges the multiple scans, and stitches them all together. This meshed representation can then be used to perform dimensional inspection operations or reverse engineering.

This method of 3D scanning can be used on objects and quickly captures a high volume of data without impacting the surface of the object. Because structured light scanners operate with immense speed relative to measuring devices like CMMs that measure at each area that the probe comes into contact with, producing a sparse amount of points, structured light scanning offers advantages, particularly with data density, that are simply not feasible on a CMM. Like CMMs, structured light scanners comes in various sizes and can be used on everything from the micro scale such as orthodontics all the way to large volume objects such as airplanes (when used in conjunction with retro-reflective targets and photogrammetry). Other applications for this technology would be when contact probes like CMMs are not appropriate. For example, if the object is elastic, delicate, or otherwise difficult to handle, structured light scanning can be used without any physical contact with the object being measured. The use of structured light scanning on a specific application depends on factors including surface characteristics such as reflectivity, transparency, and roughness. In some cases, structured light scanning is not an appropriate method because diffraction and reflection can affect the measurements. This can usually (but not always), be overcome either by special system settings or by the application of a fine and easily removable chalk spray.

Consider All Factors

There are several factors to consider when choosing measurement equipment. It is important to understand how each of these factors will affect your application's measurements.

  • Accuracy of measurement results
  • Portability of the system
  • Size of the parts being measured
  • Features that will be measured
  • Degree of automation required during measurement
  • Speed of the measurement process
  • Cost of the system
  • Cost of training operators

CMMs still and will continue to play a vital role in today's dimensional metrology applications, however structured light scanning can offer many advantages in scenarios where:

  • the given application has a large amount of complex geometry
  • a high percentage of the parts need to be measured
  • the parts can’t accommodate contact measurement
  • the measurement process needs to be very fast

Since 1987, Q-PLUS Labs has been a leading dimensional measurement laboratory specializing in assisting companies with finding the right measurement solutions to meet their needs. In addition to offering a vast product line, Q-PLUS Labs provides both CMM and 3D scanning services and products, in addition to a full range of other dimensional measurement and inspection services. Contact us for answers to your dimensional measurement and inspection questions or to request a quote.

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Topics: dimensional measurement, dimensional measurement services, metrology lab, dimensional inspection equipment, measurement, inspection services, dimensional metrology, 3D scanners, CMMs, coordinate measuring machines, 3D scanning equipment, structured light scanning, 3D Scanning

3 Ways Parts Sorting and Inspection Can Get Your Shipment Back on Track

Posted by Mike Knicker on Sep 1, 2017 10:47:39 AM

 3 Ways Parts Sorting and Inspection Can Get Your Shipment Back on Track.jpg

For some products, the manufacturing process does not end once those products are packaged and shipped out. In the case of automobile manufacturers, many of the final vehicle's components come from various suppliers and are assembled to build the cars we enjoy driving. Because the quality of these components work together to comprise the overall quality of each vehicle, and thereby the quality of the car's brand, it is imperative that each of the vehicle's components from those various suppliers must be carefully examined for non-conformance. What happens when a supplier's shipment of non-conforming parts is already on its way to the other side of world? What measures can be taken to maintain the brand's integrity and keep consumers safe, while adhering to a tight schedule?

3 Corrective Measures for a Shipment of Non Conforming Parts 

Response Time: Once the supplier knows there are non-conforming parts that are already on their way to a warehouse or distribution center, timing is critical. If there is a tight schedule to maintain, then either sending the shipment back to its point of origin to be sorted and reshipped, or having a team sent out from the supplier's location to the shipment's destination to inspect the defective shipment are options, but can be costly both in time and money. Alternatively, enlisting an on-site team who can perform all the necessary parts sorting and inspection services, and who are already located at the shipment's destination can help the supplier stay on schedule and deliver value. Once the shipment arrives, the on-site inspection team will already be in place to work diligently to contain the defective parts, sort the parts that meet specifications, gather the relevant data that the supplier wants to know about their shipment, or assist with any necessary part rework, repair, or assembly.

Reliable Data: If the supplier does not already know, they will quickly need to know the extent of the non-conformance of the parts in the shipment in order to determine how many conforming parts need to be produced or shipped to replace the defective parts in the shipment. Is it the entire shipment or is the defect limited to a certain quantity of parts? It is important to know how much of the shipment is defective, how these parts are defective, as well as the measurements of the defective parts if the defect is related to dimensional measurement. Sometimes these measurements can be quickly collected at the shipment's destination, or in the case of non-conforming parts with tight tolerances which demand accurate measurements, the defective parts may have to be sent to an environmentally controlled dimensional metrology lab. Obtaining the measurement data, whether at the shipment's destination or in a controlled lab, will save the supplier the time and cost it would take to send the entire shipment back to its point of origin to be sorted and inspected. This data can be used to produce the correct parts and ship them out while the non-conforming parts are on their way back to the supplier or are dispositioned.

Rework or Repair: Once the defective parts have been sorted from the parts that meet conformance, and the supplier has reliable measurement data which they can use to know how much the defective parts deviate from the conforming ones, sometimes the supplier can use this data to rework or repair the bad parts currently at the shipment's destination. In certain scenarios that do not require a part to be held to an extremely tight tolerance, rework or repair can be as simple as smoothing out a dent or deburring a rough edge.

Parts Sorting & Inspection Services as a Value-Added Solution

Q-PLUS Labs is a fully equipped dimensional metrology lab that has over 30 years experience in dimensional and on-site inspection. Our personnel are veterans at helping our customers maintain their product's integrity and are fully capable of providing an on-site parts sorting and inspection team able to respond and arrive at your location typically within 24 hours. As a registered ISO 9001 and ISO 17025 accredited laboratory deeply knowledgeable in serving industries including Solar, Energy, Automotive, Aerospace, Medical, and Defense, Q-PLUS Labs can help you keep your tight schedule while maintaining and delivering the quality associated with your brand.

Contact us for information on how we can add value to your manufacturing and production process.

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Topics: dimensional measurement, dimensional measurement services, metrology lab, parts sorting, dimensional inspection equipment, on-site, measurement, parts sorting and inspection, parts sorting services, inspection services, dimensional metrology, on-site measurement, on-site parts sorting, onsite, on-site inspection

CT Scanning: Harnessing the Power of X-Ray for Part Inspection

Posted by Mike Knicker on Jul 31, 2017 4:08:31 PM

 CT Scanning Harnessing the Power of X-Ray for Part Inspection.jpg

Getting to the heart of intricate, small parts using testing methods that require that the part remain unaltered can be a behemoth of a task. In the case of these small parts, the features within can be extremely complex and layered, making it difficult to accurately obtain dimensional measurements without cutting into the part. This is where CT scanning, also known as Computed Tomography scanning, provides a solution for situations requiring a dimensional testing technique that does not cause damage to the part.

CT Scanning Data for Analysis 

BRUKER - 1173_02-battery-AA_CAPTION.jpgCT scanning does not require any external forces such as pressure or stress to be applied on the part being scanned. Instead, it uses X-ray technology for internal inspection. This method uses an X-ray source to transmit a beam or beams through the part, causing thousands of 2D X-ray images to be captured by the detector panel. Unlike 3D scanning which uses structured light or laser to capture a point cloud, these multiple X-ray images combine to form voxel data. A voxel is a volume element in the form of a pixel or point in 3D space. Using software, these images are then reconstructed slice by slice into a 3D model which can be analyzed further. For dimensional measurement purposes, the voxel data is typically converted into a precise point cloud using very specialized purpose-specific software. The point cloud can then be post-processed into inspection results or, for reverse engineering, a 3D CAD model.

Types of CT Scanning Analysis

  • Analyzing Wall Thickness
  • Reverse Engineering
  • Failure Analysis
  • Porosity Analysis
  • Part to Part Comparison
  • Part to Cad Comparison
  • Dimensional Inspection
  • Composite Analysis

BRUKER - Inhaler_CAPTION.jpgWhile CT scanning produces highly accurate results without physical damage to the part, it is not an ideal testing method for every type of part. Parts that are very large, or are made of high density materials, or have very flat dimensions provide a challenge when scanned using this method.

At Q-PLUS Labs, we specialize in finding the right measurement solution for your application. Sometimes that involves an array of equipment to provide the most accurate measurements for a part. We are uniquely equipped as an ISO 9001 registered and ISO 17025 accredited dimensional measurement lab and provide the finest in inspection, measurement, and metrology engineering expertise. 

Contact us for assistance with your dimensional measurement needs, CT scanning questions, or to request a quote.

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Topics: dimensional measurement, dimensional measurement services, dimensional inspection equipment, metrology lab, CT Scanning, Wall Thickness, X-Ray, Failure investigation, porosity analysis, part to part analysis, part to cad analysis, dimensional analysis, composite analysis, computed tomography

The Importance of Part Sorting & Inspection Services

Posted by Mike Knicker on Jun 30, 2017 3:21:36 PM

 How Does It Measure Up CMMs vs Articulating Arms.jpg

We all know the old adage, "time is money." For OEMs especially, both time and money are essential factors when it comes to the entire production process, from design down to inspection. With the exponential improvements to the technology involved in the production process, the amount of time it usually takes to mass produce parts has been considerably curtailed, saving companies also on the cost it usually takes to previously produce those parts. But what happens when something goes wrong in the final stages of production, and defective parts are shipped out?

Can it be fixed?

The solution depends on factors unique to your specific schedule and cost of production. Will the cost to recall the parts back to their original destination be significantly more than the cost to have the parts inspected and sorted at their shipping destination? How much time will be involved in the inspection, sorting, and containment of the parts compared to the amount of time it will take to have them scrapped and start over with production? No one likes having to deal with the consequences of mistakes, but part sorting and inspection at the shipment's destination can be a viable solution for these mistakes when the factors of keeping costs down and maintaining the delivery schedule are of critical importance.

What will fix the situation?

Inspecting and sorting parts at the shipment's destination is a corrective measure that may involve quite a few more services. It is important to find a company that is able to deploy personnel quickly to efficiently execute on these types of services, thereby streamlining the process to help get things back on track.

In addition to part sorting and inspection, some of these services include:

  • Part Rework or Repair
  • Light Assembly
  • Part Containment
  • Quality Partnerships
  • Scanning

Every company wants happy customers. Inspecting and sorting parts at their destination may help save time and money in the corrective process to stay on schedule and deliver the right parts. Services that help you provide defect-free products also help to reinforce your relationship with your customers while maintaining your product's integrity.

Q-PLUS Labs offers a full spectrum of solutions

As a registered ISO 9001 and ISO 17025 accredited laboratory, Q-PLUS Labs is committed to making sure your product meets your expectations at the highest standards. With our fully equipped dimensional metrology lab, our personnel are veterans at helping our customers maintain their product's integrity. Whether you require on-site inspection or in a controlled lab environment, we deploy both speed and accuracy with our services, and will help you maintain your tight schedule. With over 30 years of experience in the field, you can be assured that we are deeply knowledgeable in understanding our customer's needs when it comes to maintaining and delivering quality.

Contact us for assistance with your dimensional measurement needs, part sorting and inspection questions, or to request a quote.

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Topics: dimensional measurement, dimensional measurement services, dimensional inspection equipment, 3D scanners, 3D scanning equipment, metrology lab, part sorting, part sorting and inspection, part containment, part rework, part inspection, sorting services, inspection services

How Does It Measure Up: CMMs vs. Articulating Arms

Posted by Mike Knicker on May 31, 2017 4:18:18 PM

 How Does It Measure Up CMMs vs Articulating Arms.jpg

How are your measurements adding up? Do you need automation combined with a high level of accuracy? Or perhaps, your application demands a portable measurement device for its ability to reach difficult to measure features? With the ever growing need for accurate measurements in a rapid paced manufacturing industry, knowing the best type of universal 3D dimensional measurement device available for your application will help streamline both your manufacturing and quality inspection processes. 

What is a CMM?

Coordinate Measuring Machines (CMMs) are mechanical systems that use measuring transducer technology to convert probe and physical measurements of an object's surface into electrical signals that are then analyzed by specialized metrology software. There are many different types of CMMs; cmm_descrip.jpgthe most basic systems use hard probes and XYZ read-outs, while the most complex employ fully automated continuous contact probing. For a system like a bridge CMM which uses this set of axes, each axis is used to indicate the system's position or location in space. The probe head determines the values on the Z-axis by moving up and down the system's bridge. The system's Y-axis determines its values by moving over the entire CMM's base. The values for the X-axis are determined by moving back and forth across the bridge.

Stationary CMMs such as bridge type CMMs, provide quality assurance with efficiency, accuracy, and flexibility due to their programmability. They can be set up for automated, repeated measuring tasks which do not need to be reprogrammed each time. In general, CMMs come with a wide array of sensors and probes and are ten times more accurate than articulating arms. However, due to the sensitive nature of these measuring instruments such as contact and vision-based probes as well as vision and laser sensors, which comprise most CMMs, a temperature and humidity controlled environment is an important factor to consider prior to incorporating a system into the quality inspection process. Unlike articulating arms which offer portability, CMMs are usually stationary or cumbersome to move. Also, there are a number of different software programs that run the machines, which would mean a significant investment in training CMM operators.

What is an Articulating Arm?

An articulating arm is a type of CMM that uses rotary encoders on multiple rotation axes instead of linear scales to determine the position of the probe. These manual systems are not automated, but they are portable and can reach around or into objects in a way that cannot be accomplished with a conventional CMM to perform 3D inspections, tool certifications, CAD comparison, dimensional analysis, reverse engineering, and more. The movement of the articulating arm allows for ease of use, as well as a broader scope of measuring ability as it pivots at the wrist, elbow, shoulder, and base of the system. The encoders at the system's base triangulate the location of each joint to the probe tip in 3D space.

articulating_arm_descrip.jpg

The measurements of very large parts can be easily accommodated by moving the articulating arm into another location around that part. The system's robust software is able to compile the measurement data from these individual locations and stitch all the data together to extend the measurement volume.

The ability to easily transport a highly accurate system such as an articulating arm allows users to take measurements onsite and in difficult to reach scenarios, without having to disassemble parts or transport large and heavy parts onto a fixed base. Improvements to articulating arms also include the integration of laser line scanners in combination with the traditional touch probe, thereby allowing the system to seamlessly scan across a diversity of surface materials, including those with high contrast, reflectivity, and geometric complexities. Unlike fixed CMMs, the probe of an articulating arm is not restricted to travel within the extent of a confined measurement bed. However, compared to the CMM which can be programmed to automate measurement, the articulating arm is manual and dependent on the operator to take measurements by moving the probe to each location on the part, and produces measurements which are generally less accurate than the fixed CMM. Operators will also have to learn to adjust to the motion of using the articulating arm, as it is fixed to a base.

Consider All Factors

There is not a single particular factor that will determine if a CMM or an articulating arm is best suited for your specific application. However, factors to consider that will inevitably affect the final decision will include:

  • Accuracy of measurement results
  • Portability of the system
  • Size of the parts being measured
  • Features that will be measured
  • Degree of automation required during measurement
  • Cost of the system
  • Cost of training operators

Q-PLUS Labs has been a leading dimensional measurement laboratory since 1987 and, in addition to its wide array of services and products, specializes in helping companies find the right measurement solutions to meet their needs. Contact us for answers to your dimensional measurement and inspection questions or to request a quote.

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Topics: dimensional measurement, dimensional measurement services, measurement services,, dimensional inspection, dimensional inspection equipment, Faro Arm, CMMs, coordinate measuring machines, articulating arms, 3D scanners, 3D scanning equipment, metrology lab

3 Nano Measurement Factors to Consider for Dimensional Inspection

Posted by Mike Knicker on Apr 25, 2017 1:37:26 PM

 3 Nano Measurement Factors to Consider for Dimensional Inspection

As technology in our world progresses exponentially, the demand for more precise measurement requirements grows as the components manufactured within these products become smaller and smaller. If you are manufacturing products with extremely small dimensional measurements, you may need to consider nano-measurement technology in order to ensure that your products are meeting the tight tolerances required in today's precision driven world.

How Small Can Nano Measurements Be?

Measurements in the billionths of a meter are considered to be nano scale. In order to maintain accurate measurements at the nano scale, it is important to know that you have the right equipment to meet your needs. A useful rule of thumb for evaluating a solution is that the measurement equipment's accuracy should be 10 times better than the dimension you intend to measure.

Since there are generally two main methods of performing nano measurements, you may find that you need to perform a trade-off between the accuracy of the measurements and the speed at which they are acquired to find the best fit equipment for your unique situation. When measuring at this small of a scale, understanding what you need from your measurement results is the first step in the process of choosing the solution for your application.

What Are the Types of Nano Measurement Technology?

In general, there are two main types of nano measurement equipment, contact based and non-contact based; each with its own advantages to consider based on the application it will be used for. Non-contact based techniques use light to measure the surface characteristics of a part, and typically provide a much faster measurement because they do not need to physically come into contact with the part being measured. There is also no risk that a small part will be moved or damaged during measurement with a non-contact based system.

By comparison, contact-based nano measurement techniques are typically better for high resolution measurements on surfaces with a high aspect ratio; such as surfaces with features like holes, slopes, steps, or sharp edges. As these contact-based nano measurement solutions have been around for some time now, they are a trusted method of inspection and provide highly accurate 2D measurement data.

How Do I Balance Cost vs. Time Expenditure?

It is no surprise that accurate inspections at the nano level are expensive and take time, but they are critical to ensure your product's success. You will need to decide if it makes more sense to purchase the equipment you need in order to perform the measurements in-house, or to rely on a trusted dimensional inspection lab to perform the measurements for you. Having your own in-house measurement solution by purchasing equipment provides the benefit of taking less time, especially for repetitive measurements. However, equipment can be costly, and training your employees may take a considerable amount of time.

Conversely, using a lab to provide your measurement information supplies you with a team of experienced specialists, performing your dimensional inspection without the outlay of purchasing equipment and maintaining costly training for your employees. These experts will very likely have greater experience than your own employees could acquire, however, the data provided from the measurements may take time depending on the lab's availability and scheduling.

Q-PLUS Labs is your dimensional metrology partner with the experience, training, and equipment necessary to ensure that your dimensional measurements, small or large, are right every time. Whether you are looking to buy the necessary dimensional measurement or surface profilometry equipment to provide your data, or you are searching for the right lab to perform complicated measurements on your behalf, Q-PLUS Labs is the right place to turn to for the advice and skills you need.

Q-PLUS Labs has been a leading dimensional measurement laboratory since 1987 and, in addition to its wide array of services and products, specializes in helping companies find the right measurement solutions to meets their needs. Contact us for answers to your dimensional and inspection measurement and inspection questions or to request a quote.

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Topics: dimensional measurement, dimensional measurement services, measurement services,, dimensional inspection, dimensional inspection equipment, nanomeasurements, nano