workpieces. Measuring profiles are easily changed as the part numbers change. It is made for the shop floor, with hermetically sealed optics that keep dust or oil mist from interfering with measurements. However, optical mea- surements can’t do everything. For checking length and angular measurements, an optional touch probe is avail- able on the Opticline series. Scott Everling, product manager for Hexagon Manufac-

turing Intelligence, agreed there are limitations to optical metrology. The issue is the carriers and methodologies for the inline measurement of large surfaces are not as accu- rate as slower, older technologies like CMMs. This is com- bined with shop-floor environmental conditions that limit the accuracy specifications that can be reached. “While it measures the boundaries of holes well, getting into the hole and measuring angularity or the sides is often too much of a challenge,” he said. Sometimes it is easy to mea- sure only one side of a drilled hole. Nevertheless, he sees continued interest and push for optical methods because of the need to measure faster and capture data sets that cover whole surfaces. One solution Hexagon offers for non-contact, area

data acquisition over larger parts is a Leica T-Scan5 at- tached to a robot or a machine tool and tracked with a Leica Absolute Tracker AT960. Another is its WLS400A 3D Optical Scanner integrated into a 360º Flexible Mea- surement Cell (360º FMC), the first automated measure- ment work cell to integrate all four pillars of automation in one solution: flexibility, footprint, throughput and performance. The portable and configurable 360º FMC is used for automotive and aero structure applications, such as powertrain, and closure panel fabrication. The com- mercial-off-the-shelf work cell system integrates industrial robots, automation devices, structured light systems, la- ser scanners and laser trackers--all providing bigger data sets and actionable information, more than a touch probe can provide and more useful than the go/no-go decisions of hard gaging.

Data collection and interpretation While large data sets are becoming more available, it

is not always easy to evaluate them and understand how to guide decisions. “What you are going to see in the next couple of years are engineers learning how to not only capture this data but also take virtual measurements with it,” Everling said. He emphasized there is more going on with metrol- ogy than automating it. Metrology enables precise robotic


automation, as well, especially precision material handling. Laser trackers like the Leica Absolute AT960 are suitable for robotic guidance, especially with the large parts and distances typical in aerospace. “Vision-guided systems enable robots to precisely place windshields or doors in a body-in-white, then measure the gap and flush to ensure quality,” Everling said. Automation is growing metrology for many reasons. “There is a general lack of qualified engineers or tech-

nicians for quality control applications,” said Jerome- Alexandre Lavoie of Creaform, a brand of an Ametek unit. At the same time, he said several industries are trying to get metrology embedded directly into the manufactur- ing process. “That last change may have a direct impact on the measurement quality, since people building the product may end up measuring it. There are two solutions to these challenges: simplicity and automation,” he said. “[The industry is] looking to purchase accurate-but-simple solutions for their employees, solutions that will remove the operator skills from the operation and that can be operated after a short learning program.” In 2013, Creaform introduced two scanners designed

for automating with industrial robots, the MetraSCAN 70-R and the MetraSCAN 210-R. “When we released these, demands for quality control automation was at its begin- ning for us,” he said. “Since then, reducing cycle time while moving towards 100% inspection has motivated industry to want more automated metrology, especially in the auto- motive industry.”

Automation as a product line Automation is so important to the manufacturer GOM,

producer of the ATOS structured light system, that it cre- ated a comprehensive line of Scanbox inspection cells. These combine movements and their ATOS sensors in a protected enclosure. They range from the small 4105 for individual parts to a double robot cell on rails for whole bodies-in-white or aerospace parts. “Automated metrol- ogy is very important to our customers because it allows them to inspect parts faster with higher repeatability and throughput,” said Marc Demarest of Capture 3D, a reseller of GOM equipment. “The best applications are in those environments where either 100% of the parts need to be inspected or a sampling of the produced parts require inspection.” Structured light systems like the ATOS are particularly

good for automating because they measure large patches of data from a single viewing perspective, he said. They

Fall 2016

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