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Dimensional Measurement Blog

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 inspection equipment, dimensional measurement services, metrology lab, inspection services, measurement, 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, 3D scanners, 3D Scanning, dimensional inspection equipment, CMMs, 3D scanning equipment, dimensional measurement services, coordinate measuring machines, metrology lab, inspection services, measurement, dimensional metrology, structured light 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 inspection equipment, dimensional measurement services, metrology lab, inspection services, measurement, parts sorting and inspection, parts sorting services, dimensional metrology, parts sorting, on-site, on-site measurement, on-site parts sorting, on-site inspection, onsite

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 inspection equipment, dimensional measurement services, metrology lab, CT Scanning, X-Ray, Failure investigation, porosity analysis, part to cad analysis, dimensional analysis, composite analysis, Wall Thickness, part to part 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, 3D scanners, dimensional inspection equipment, 3D scanning equipment, dimensional measurement services, 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.

Nano Measurement Ebook

 

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

Nano Measurement Ebook

 

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

3 Surprising Facts about Dimensional Inspection

Posted by Mike Knicker on Nov 30, 2016 2:22:19 PM

 3 Surprising Facts About Dimensional Inspection.jpg

When you think about your daily life the topic of dimensional inspection will likely never come up. In fact, many people could go through their lives not understanding how dimensional inspection works, let alone how it fits into almost every aspect of their daily lives through the products they use. From the coffee cup that you may be holding right now as you read this article to the car you drive (hopefully not while you are reading this article), dimensional inspection was an integral part of the manufacturing process for all of the products you use in your daily life.

What Is Dimensional Inspection?

Simply put, dimensional inspection is the measurement of the distances between different features on a part. If you have a block that is supposed to be one inch long, then dimensional inspection will tell you exactly how long that block actually is. This is a simple case, but think about the intricate measurements required to make sure that each individual part of your car engine will fit together properly in order to move the pistons for you to be able to drive your car.

Even your simple water bottle needs to have very close dimensional measurements in order for the bottle top to screw onto the bottle and provide a tight seal for the water; if the dimensions are not correct then you may have trouble storing the bottle without spilling its contents, or even have an issue trying to fit the lid back onto it once you’ve removed it. This ability of the parts to connect correctly is designed into the dimensions of each part, but dimensional inspection of the individual parts to make sure they meet the design is what ensures the end product will work when it gets to you.

When it is not feasible to measure each dimension on each part, (for instance water bottles would become very expensive), dimensional inspection is used on the tools that make the parts such as injection molding dies that form a water bottle out of molten plastic. If the tool dies are ensured to have the right measurements, then the resulting bottles will be correct; a company can then check a sample product at intervals to make sure that the forming process is working properly as it progresses. So even then dimensional inspection is used on a sample basis.

Dimensional Inspection: 3 Surprising Facts

It should no longer surprise you that dimensional inspection is found throughout the manufacturing processes of almost every product that you use to ensure the safety and integrity of those products, but there are still some facts about dimensional inspection that you might find surprising.

  1. Tight tolerances: Dimensions are never measured to exactly what the design measurement should be (called the nominal dimension) so each design will have a tolerance on the dimension; basically, a stated amount that the dimension can be different from the nominal dimension. So, if you have a measurement that needs to be at one inch, but can be different from this measurement by one-sixteenth of an inch, your tolerance would be +/- (plus or minus) one sixteenth of an inch. In some industries, such as the space industry that builds satellites or parts for the space station these tolerances can be very tight, such as one ten thousandth of an inch (0.0001”) in order for the parts to work reliably in the space environment. This is for the safety of the astronauts or for the reliability of the satellite since you cannot fix a problem once in orbit.

  2. Tighter measurements: A general rule of dimensional inspection is that the dimensional measuring equipment should be ten times better than the tolerance being measured. That means if you are measuring something to the nearest inch your measuring equipment needs to be able to measure to one tenth of an inch. For the above example, if you are measuring to one ten thousandth of an inch (0.0001”) your measuring equipment needs to be accurate to one hundred thousandth of an inch (0.00001”). So, dimensional measurement equipment can be extremely accurate.

  3. Calibration: Equipment for dimensional inspection needs to be checked on a regular basis to make sure that it is still measuring as accurately as it is designed to measure. This verification is done against a very accurate standard part or specimen that has been designed and verified to a certain dimensions and tolerances. By ensuring that the dimensional equipment measures the standard correctly you can be confident that the equipment is functioning properly. Most of these standards are traceable back to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), which is part of the United States Department of Commerce, but is a non-regulatory agency. NIST is the foremost measurement standards laboratory and is used as the standard for calibrations in most industries.

Dimensional Measurements: In-House or Outsourced

While many companies keep all of the equipment they need to perform all of their dimensional inspections sometimes the equipment is so expensive, and the measurements taken so infrequently, that it makes more sense to have an expert laboratory do the measurements for you. In either case the experts at Q-PLUS are the place to turn for either help on the right equipment to purchase, or the accurate tools to measure your most intricate dimensions and the skilled operators to run that equipment.

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 and calibrations every time.

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

Nano measurements: 3 basic factors for determining the value of your measurement data

Posted by Mike Knicker on Nov 4, 2016 12:29:05 PM

 Nano measurements 3 basic factors for determining the value of your measurement data3.jpg

With the rapid development of technology comes the greater need for the increased accuracy in measurement capabilities that are able to keep up with the pace of products being manufactured at the nano level. For precise accuracy up to the micrometer, such as 3D measurement data of a needle tip or surface roughness measured to extreme accuracy, nano measurement is the logical solution for these intricate measurements. But how do you know if it is worth your time to invest in this specific measurement solution for your application?

Of course, every measurement technique has its challenges, and with the various methods of nano measurement, there are generally three things to consider when choosing the best method for your application; specifically measurement accuracy, speed, and cost. While there are two main methods of acquiring nano measurement data, optical-based and contact-based, you will need to examine these three basic criteria when you are weighing your decision on which type of method to implement.

Accuracy of measurement

What benefit will this measurement data provide your application? To measure in the nano realm, there are two types of methods. One way is via contact-based methods of nano measurement which can give very high resolution measurements with high accuracy. This is due to the fact that they come in contact with the surface of the part being measured, so that certain features the probe comes in contact with can more easily be distinguish, and thereby measured accurately. However, parts that may become compromised if they come into direct contact with the measuring device would not be suited for this particular form of measurement.

This is only a general rule of thumb, however, as white light interferometry, a type of optical-based measurement, is one of the most accurate methods possible even though it does not come in contact with the measured unit.

Speed of measurement

If you are looking for a faster measurement solution, an optical-based method of nano measurement may be the best option, because this method uses light to take the measurement and does not physically come into contact with the surface that it is measuring. This process speeds up the collection of measurement data without the risk of surface damage, unlike what can be experienced with a probe used in the contact-based methods.

One drawback of these faster methods of measurement may be the loss of some resolution on surfaces with high aspect ratios; such as a surface with features such as steps, slopes, holes or sharp edges. These can be much more accurately measured with a contact-based method, but this will be more time consuming in order to protect the surface of the piece being measured.

Cost to measure

Of course different measurement systems will have different financial costs associated with them, and this will have to be weighed when choosing the right system to meet your needs. When making your decision on accuracy, precision, and speed you will need to keep in mind how much the measurement data will cost. Along these lines, the following are some things to consider:

  1. Will it be more cost efficient to purchase the equipment to perform your measurements in-house; or would it be better to outsource this activity to a lab that specializes in these measurements? If you manufacture a part in-house and need to perform repeated measurements, then it might be in your best interest to invest in the equipment and training necessary to do the measurements yourself.

  2. A major benefit of going to a lab for your measurement needs is the specialization that they have in performing these measurements with the appropriate training, experience and equipment to give you the data you need. Labs are fairly flexible and can be great assets for measurements of one-off parts as well as large ongoing jobs.

While you can make some adjustments to reduce the cost per part, such as reducing the sample frequency of measurements, ensuring that you get exactly the type of measurements for the data you are looking for is one of the best ways to reduce your cost overall.

Having difficulty getting started on your measurement project? Since 1987, Q-PLUS Labs has provided a one stop solution for precision measurements to our customers. As a leading dimensional measurement laboratory, we have been able to not only supply measurement services and calibrations as needed but also consult on, specify, integrate, and sell in-house measurement solutions to meet the many and varying needs of the manufacturing industry. As a lab registered to ISO 9001 and accredited to ISO 17025, we've built our reputation on providing objective, unbiased information whether it be from our lab services department or our metrology products division.

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

6 Types of Dimensional Inspection Equipment

Posted by Mike Knicker on Oct 22, 2014 1:00:00 PM

6-Types-of-Dimensional-Inspection-Equipment

Dimensional inspection equipment can range from a basic ruler that measures length to an optical sensor that provides measurements at the nano scale. Obviously, these two types of equipment are not likely to be used for the same application. The type of dimensional inspection equipment that should be used for a particular application depends on a number of factors, including:

  • The level of accuracy required
  • Whether the object can be touched during the measurement process
  • The size and shape of the object
  • How you intend to use the results

Whether you are performing first article inspection, reverse engineering, or quality control on a manufacturing line, selecting the right dimensional inspection equipment for the job is critical.

6 Types of Dimensional Inspection Equipment

Some of the most common types of dimensional inspection equipment you are likely to encounter include:

  1. Hand tools - Although they may be the most basic type of measurement equipment, hand tools remain useful for certain applications. When all you need is a simple solution, a fixed caliper or ring gauge can be both the most effective and the most affordable option. Hand tools also are highly portable, especially when compared with the more high-tech equipment types.
     
  2. Coordinate measuring machines - Also known as CMMs, this popular type of measurement equipment takes the physical measurements of an object and converts them to a digital format. Although CMMs produce relatively fast and accurate results, they are not right for every application. Because they use a touch-based sensor, CMMs cannot be used with objects that have an elastic surface or are otherwise too delicate to touch during the measurement process.
     
  3. Optical comparators - This type of equipment projects light onto an object with a screen behind it. The edges of the silhouette are measured to determine the length and width of the object. The method can also be used to compare an object to a desired standard by using a physical overlay.
     
  4. Structured light scanners - These are a good option when three-dimensional measurements are required and the object cannot be touched or has a lot of freeform geometry. Dimensions are obtained by projecting a pattern of light onto the object and measuring the distortions caused by its surface characteristics.
     
  5. Laser scanners - Another type of non-contact measurement method uses lasers. Similar to structured light scanners, the reflection of a laser point or line is used to measure the distance to the surface of an object. The resulting point cloud is used to create a 3D rendering that can be employed for reverse engineering, dimensional inspection, or other applications.
     
  6. Vision systems - This type of measurement instrument employs high-resolution video to gather images that are processed with integrated software. Vision systems are often used in quality control applications that require a high level of accuracy and precision while producing fast and reliable results.

Of course, this is not an exhaustive list of dimensional inspection equipment. Customized solutions can be created and specialized hardware can be found for virtually every type of measurement scenario. Regardless of what the application is, selecting the right type of equipment to produce the results you need at a price you can afford is critical.

Q-PLUS Labs offers both dimensional inspection equipment and measurement services for all types of applications. If you want to purchase equipment, we offer both new and pre-owned options from a broad range of manufacturers. If you want to outsource dimensional measurement services, our trained staff has decades of experience and dozens of equipment options at their disposal. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

What type of dimensional inspection equipment do you think you need for your application?

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Topics: dimensional inspection equipment