Quality Assurance and EDM
New quality equipment, software, and EDM machining take center stage
With the demand for quality at its highest, manufacturers must continue to take advantage of the best quality-assurance gear available. At IMTS 2006, machine tool suppliers will show off some of the latest advances in on-machine probing and software that allow more precise measurements with capabilities including off-line programming, simulation, and a wider use of 3-D models in shop-floor metrology.
Among the vendors showing metrology software, Renishaw Inc. (Hoffman Estates, IL) will showcase some new capabilities for manufacturers programming their machine tools for probing operations. "New programming software can unleash the potential of machine-tool probing as a solution to leaner manufacturing and faster throughput," says Barry Rogers of Renishaw. "On-machine probing can enable one-stop processing for many kinds of parts. Probes carried in the tool magazine can be automatically used for part setup, toolsetting, tool-breakage detection, in-process inspection, and even final-part inspection."
To simplify the implementation of on-machine probing, at IMTS Renishaw will demonstrate two new software products for off-line programming and prove-out simulation. Intuitive menus remove the need for specialist knowledge of programming macro commands. Rogers noted that Renishaw's Productivity+/Active Editor Pro package allows integrated programming of machine tool setup, toolsetting, machining, and inspection routines, and makes possible closed-loop machining by means of in-process measurement and automatic compensation through the machine control.
"On Machine Verification [OMV] software uses imported CAD part data and provides point-and-click selection of inspection routines for geometric shapes to speed part programming," Rogers adds. "Graphical inspection reports display part deviations from the CAD model. By combining the probing software with a wide choice of machine tool probes, manufacturers can realize faster, leaner part processing, a high degree of process control, and make 100% good parts achievable objectives." Inprocess checks allow machining to tighter tolerances, reduce scrap, and increase confidence for lights-out production, he notes, and using probes to perform final inspection, while the part is still fixtured, eliminates added costs and time for CMM and other postprocess inspection.
Advances in software technology have been developed in response to requests from manufacturing customers for metrology systems that are shop-floor capable, and that provide flexibility to support the trends of larger families of parts, shorter production-part lifecycles, and the effects of increased global competition in manufacturing, notes Ed Vella, president, Marposs Corp. (Auburn Hills, MI).
"Manufacturers are seeking to move measurement and process control out of the lab and closer to the machining process," Vella observes. "Marposs has fielded requests from numerous end users to apply gage feedback to the machine control for purposes of better controlling the process, while minimizing operator influence. Parts manufacturers are also now able to perform many inspection tasks without removing the part from the machine tool and taking it to a CMM."
An example is Marposs' new 3D Shape Inspector software, which will be shown at IMTS 2006. It offers significant advantages in the measurement and inspection of both sculptured parts and geometrical features directly in the machine tool. "The software is used with the same Mida touch probe that can be used for aligning parts for initial machining operations," Vella notes. "In addition to checking the part shape and its dimensions, the 3D Shape Inspector program generates Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing [GD&T] reports, and allows immediate reworking of out-of-tolerance measurements without time lost for sending the part for measuring on a CMM, and then refixturing and setting up the part after inspection." The program can be used as a direct TCP/IP or DNC interface on a CNC-integrated PC, or off-line by creating probing programs on an external PC. The easy-to-use system features an intuitive graphical interface and various automated cycles to simplify and speed programming of calibration, part measuring, and geometric body-measuring cycles.
"The trend to more open software and hardware architecture of measurement system controllers now enables easier integration and communication with other systems in the manufacturing process, including part handling automation and the machine tools," Vella adds. The Marposs E9066 Gauge Amplifier with QSPC software, which will be displayed at IMTS in a networking application, is an example. The gage amplifier hardware has an open architecture to allow integration of standard PC cards for networking and integration with different measurement probes. The QSPC software is easily configurable for various applications, and even guides the user through the gaging application.
"Robustness, ease of use, and uptime of the equipment are also extremely important. Measuring devices, such as our new M1 Star electronic bore gage, now deliver improved accuracy with 0.5µm repeatability, over a much greater measurement range, making them more useful as the amount of available tolerance continues to shrink," he says. "These gages also tend to be substantially tougher and easier to maintain than their predecessors. Many of them offer modular designs that reduce repair time and spare-parts inventories."
Shop-floor metrology has been gaining converts, both in new gaging equipment and using portable CMMs on the factory floor. "One of the trends we see in special gage engineering is renewed interest in shop-hardened mechanical gaging equipment," says Steve Walsh, senior vice president of operations, The L.S. Starrett Co. (Athol, MA). "Certainly, there is a lot of buzz about laser measuring and coordinate-measuring machines, but this equipment is expensive, requires climate-controlled environments and specially trained personnel. There continues to be a need for accurate yet rugged inspection devices that function out in the shop where oil, cutting fluids, and rough handling are common. In these applications, accuracies of 0.0005" or 0.0001 mm are often sufficient. The ability to measure parts while they are still on the machine is vital to maintaining good productivity.
"Jet engine manufacturers are very busy these days," Walsh states. "There is strong demand for new more-powerful and fuel-efficient engines. These companies value the ability to accurately measure rotors, fans, and blade assemblies on their machining centers. Special mechanical gages enable machine operators to inspect and verify desired tolerances before an engine part leaves a machine fixture. Gage reliability and repeatability are critical to the industry. Less downtime and more good parts per hour means a faster manufacturing cycle and increased profitability. To remain competitive in today's global economy, you've got to succeed at making products faster, cheaper, better."
At IMTS 2006, Starrett will be demonstrating Data-Sure, a robust, reliable wireless system for factory-floor data collection, and various standard gages including electronic calipers, height gages, and special gages, at the company's booth.
Portable articulating arms have made significant headway on the shop floor in recent years. While the adoption of portable CMMs is in its early stages, the demand for such tools is growing, according to Jay Freeland, president and co-CEO of Faro Technologies Inc. (Lake Mary, FL). "With a portable CMM, quality becomes the responsibility of the guy on the production line," Freeland states. "This is a real shift for the typical factory. Manufacturers typically buy one or two fixed CMMs, but will buy 10 portable arms for 10 different stations, because they are so adaptable. Portables are equal or close to the accuracy of traditional CMMs, so as we show the engineer how simple it is to use our technology—and the return on investment—that can help gain acceptance."
At the show, Faro plans to showcase its new Laser Scanner LS, which digitizes massive spaces into 3-D, action-ready data within its 80-m range, adds Freeland. "It's well-suited for large-volume scanning, factory planning/redesign, quality control, and building information modeling, because it captures 120,000 points/sec—up to 100 times faster than a flight scanner—with 3-mm accuracy," Freeland says.
Faro also has released its new Faro PowerGage for customers who want the 0.0002" (0.005-mm) accuracy of the Faro Gage-PLUS, but need to perform CAD-to-part analysis and write On-Machine Inspection (OMI) routines, he adds. "It runs exclusively on a version of Delcam's PowerInspect. The other Faro Gages empower machine shops with 3-D measurement capabilities not found with calipers and other hand-held tools. They're as powerful as fixed CMMs, but portable, easier-to-use, more cost-effective, and can generate GD&T and SPC reports."
In EDM machining, the latest trends for EDM suppliers are focused on providing EDM users in the US and Canada with cutting-edge capability to compete globally, notes Harry Moser, president, Agie Charmilles Corp. (Lincolnshire, IL). "Based on our analysis comparing US to Asian EDM users, the keys to success are to: reduce manhours per part to cut costs, simplify training and usage to adapt to the US' skilled labor shortages, and ensure immediate OEM response so that shops can provide the quick, consistent delivery that differentiates them from their Asian competitors.
"Man-hour reduction comes from automation, totally reliable automatic threading, and standard technology that allows the EDM to cut to size the first time," Moser states. "Simplification is achieved via on-board operator help systems and more user-friendly HMIs. Immediate response is demonstrated by carefully measured and monitored phone, field, and parts support.
"Our presence at IMTS will reflect our needs-based approach to products and technology development. For example, we have carefully considered the needs of our customers in the medical and aerospace markets, and have developed technology designed to suit their specific needs. Our booth will be organized by industry segment, showcasing the EDM technologies geared toward each industry."
For the medical industry, Charmilles will showcase its Turn While Burn technology, Moser says, which was specifically developed for medical-device manufacturers in the United States, and allows customers to produce complex 3-D components. "Additionally, we will demonstrate the Robofil 2050/6050TW twin-wire EDM. Charmilles pioneered twin-wire technology, which gives our customers the ability to machine parts using, in sequence, two different wires in one machine. This technology reduces machining time and operating costs by 50% or more."
The following pages highlight selected products scheduled to be exhibited in the Quality Assurance and EDM pavilions at McCormick Place next month. — Patrick Waurzyniak
Two-Step Diffuser Process
In most production environments, diffuser shapes are generated on a EDM sinker after a fast-hole EDM drill has made a through or meter hole. This process requires two separate machines with two distinct EDM processes. The patent pending Two-Step Diffuser Process generates both features, meter hole and diffuser, on the same machine. First, the meter hole is drilled. Second, the dressed diffuser shape is clocked to the required angular location, and the shape is sunk over the meter hole.
Ph: (513) 248-2650
Submersible Wire EDM
Based on the company's linear motor EDM platform, Model AQ300L Medical Device Center (MDC) submersible-wire EDM with indexing axis is a solution to the EDMing of medical devices and instruments. Standard features include an indexing axis, X, Y, U, V linear motor drives with glassscale feedback, and auto wire threader. Specifications include 12 x 8 x 8" (305 x 203 x 203 mm) X, Y, Z axis travels, maximum workpiece dimensions of 20 x 12 x 8" (508 x 305 x 203 mm) and U, V travel of 3.2 x 3.2" (0.8 x 0.8 mm).
Ph: (847) 310-9000
Based on embedded technology, the Merlin gage computer is designed for use in measuring applications where as many as 16 characteristics can be displayed in numeric or graphical format, together with basic statistical analysis. It uses technologies created for PDA and portable electronic units, and runs Microsoft Windows CE 5.0 software. Unit has an 8.4" (213-mm) color-LCD touchscreen display, and can accept up to 16 sensors via USB or RS232 inputs or Bluetooth technology. Data are retained in a flash disk and can be transmitted via Ethernet to local networks.
Ph: (888) 627-7677
Called Microgage, this CMM is a smallformat desktop 3-D DCC instrument designed to deliver volumetric accuracy of better than 5 µm with repeatability of 0.7 µm, and scale resolution of 0.1 µm. A fixed-bridge type with moving stage for the Y axis, the unit has X, Y, Z travel range of 225 x 150 x 125 mm. It features precision linear bearings in the X and Y axes and instrument roller bearings for the Z axis. Accuracy is intrinsic; error mapping and volumetric error compensation are not used.
Helmel Engineering Products Inc.
Ph: (716) 297-8644
Exhibits will include the Robofil 640cc, largest EDM to use the company's CC generator. Unit features axis travels of X 31.5 x Y 21.7 x Z 19.7" (800 x 551 x 500 mm). Robofil 240cc will demonstrate Turn while Burn technology, which combines a servo-controlled B axis with a wire cutting in the X and Y axes. Robofil 2050 TW runs with two wire spools ranging from 0.02 to 0.33-mm diam. Roboform diesinking 550 GammaTEC will also be shown. It can achieve surface finishes to CH 6/Ra 0.2 µm.
Ph: (800) CTC-1EDM
Microtechnology Rotary Spindle
Described as a breakthrough in EDM turning of microstructures, the H80R.MAC high-speed rotary spindle, combined with the H1680.AC4 variablespeed AC control, is intended for producing miniature round parts with small diameters and finer finishes. The spindle incorporates special bearings, minimum radial run-out, and variable high-speed control. Contour shapes are programmed into the EDM control, eliminating contoured wheels. Developed in conjunction with the Institute for Mikrotechnik Mainz GmbH, Germany, the spindle, along with refined wire EDM generator settings, allows EDM turning of diameters down to 0.05 mm, with surfaces to Ra 0.2.
Hirschmann Engineering USA Inc.
Ph: (847) 419-9890
Video Metrology Readout System
Designated QC300, this digital readout system combines readout, video LCD monitor, crosshair generator, 2-D measurements and controls, and video edge detection in one display with direct live camera feed. Parts and video measuring routines are displayed in one line of sight, on one screen. System has programming features such as alphanumeric program naming, user messages, and arrow-to-target stage directions to operator. Automatic point entry, based on stage movement to the correct position, speeds measuring throughput, and with the auto-edge detection option, operator subjectivity is also removed.
Ph: (603) 622-0212
Noncontact Metrology System
Designed for high-throughput, electronic assembly-process qualification, the Benchmark 450 noncontact metrology system comes with the company's CADdriven Elements software and digital megapixel cameras. With Elements, no programming is required. Import the CAD file and you're ready to measure. Digital megapixel cameras extend the imaging power of the unit's dual-camera optical system, while the greater pixel density provides better resolution than standard cameras. This combination speeds throughput. The 450 x 450-mm stage is suitable for large-footprint parts or nested smaller parts. Fixed-bridge design separates X and Y-axis motions.
View Engineering Inc.
Ph: (805) 578-5000
The Contura G2 bridge-type CMM comes in two configurations: RDS and Aktiv. Model RDS is designed for measuring complex features and parts with multiple angles that require smaller styli, and features the company's RDS articulating probe holder that reaches 20,376 positions in 2.5° increments, and the VAST XXT probe for articulating scanning. The Aktiv comes with the DynaTouch sensor for active single-point measuring, and the VAST XT sensor for multipoint measurement of size, form, and position. Both offer X, Y, Z measuring ranges from 700 x 700 x 600 mm to 1000 x 2100 x 600 mm.
Carl Zeiss IMT Corp.
Ph: (763) 744-2400
Part Measurement System
The MMQ 100 part measurement system weighs under 62 lb (28 kg) and can measure parts 14" (375 mm) in diam and 18.5" (470-mm) high. Designed to be operated on the shop floor, it comes equipped with a Dell Optiplex Small Form Factor Chassis computer with wireless keyboard, and runs on Windows or Windows XP operating systems. System is optimized to perform a number of form measuring tasks, including roundness (also in a section), flatness (from one circle), concentricity, coaxiality, radial run-out, axial run-out, plane parallelism from two opposite circles, and Fourier/waviness analysis.
Mahr Federal Inc.
Ph: (800) 333-4243
New Bridge-Type CMMs
Raising the X-axis guideway of the LK Libero CMM positions the drive much closer to the center of gravity. Coupled with an S-axis scale to compensate for X-axis errors, this increases structural stiffness. Primarly designed as an analog scanning solution, the CMM comes in three machine sizes and machine variants. All are fitted with temperature compensation and pneumatic AVMs as standard. Libero+ is designed as a very high accuracy laboratory machine, but the Libero and Libero Therma are designed for shopfloor use, with the Therma having a temperature range of 15–30°.
Ph: +3216 74 01 01 (Belgium)
The new NC module of PC-DMIS 4.0 will be demonstrated running on-board inspection tasks. It expands the capabilities of the traditional machine tool inspection probe, allowing true onboard inspection with machine tools without the need to transfer a part to a separate inspection station. This capability can be valuable when parts are too large or immobile to be conveniently moved to an off-line station. Also, intermediate steps in a machining cycle can be checked to ensure offsets are correct before proceeding— PC-DMIS NC offers automatic work offset and tool offset adjustment capabilities.
Wilcox Associates Inc., a Hexagon Metrology Co.
Ph: (920) 906-7514
EDM Sinker Machine
Model CDM VS-600 EDM sinker machine has fully integrated six-axis motion with integrated C axis. The EDM features a Windows Operating System with four processors connected on a highspeed, fiber optic network, which allows three-axis orbital machining in any direction. The CDM VS-600's Spazio software creates programs with minimal EDM knowledge. The CDM VS-600 will be shown working within a single workcell automated with a robot.
Belmont Equipment & Technologies
Ph: (800) 356-4811
Sensor-Based Error Proofing
A variety of sensors that can increase parts quality and system productivity for manufacturers through error-proofing will be exhibited and demonstrated. Included will be the BWL L-shaped through-beam sensor, RFID sensors for on-the-fly industrial data tracking, Micropulse BIW transducers for noncontact linear positioning accuracy, and mini sensors that have sensing distance to 5 mm, the equivalent of a sensor three to four times larger.
Air Gage Readout
Micro III Air Gage Readout provides fast and accurate measurements of tapered internal and external diam. The air gage instrument features a built-in microprocessor, digital and analog displays, RS-232 serial data output, and auto calibration with master gages. Taper angles and datum diam are displayed with resolutions to 0.1 µm. Applications includes measurement of machine tool spindle tapers, toolholders, and medical implant tapers.
Western Gage Corp.
Ph: (805) 445-1410
Probing System for CMMs
Designated the Tesastar, this probing system consists of a complete motorized probe head, touch probe, and probe changing system. The Tesastar-m motorized articulating probe head is capable of indexing in 5° increments, +/- 180° in revolution, and +90 to -115° in pitch. Tesastar-p touch probes use standard M8 threaded five-directional touch probes. Tesastar-r probe changing rack is fieldexpandable from three to nine ports. PC-DMIS 4.0 fully supports the probe system, including migration of existing part programs.
Hexagon Metrology North America
Ph: (920) 906-7514
Multisensor Measurement Systems
Based on the company's SmartScope Flash 1500, the SmartScope Flash 1550 offers extended X-axis travel, yielding X, Y, Z measurement volume of 1240 x 1500 x 200 mm. The instrument head moves along a steel bridge in the X axis, and the entire bridge moves on parallel tracks in the Y axis. The staged part remains stationary, while optics/bridge translations are performed. System employs the patented sharp-imaging AccuCentric 12x zoom lens that is automatically calibrated at every magnification change. It can be configured with a touch probe, microprobe and/or laser scanner.
Optical Gaging Products Inc.
Ph: (800) 647-4243
Noncontact Measurement System
Designated the StarLite measurement system, this compact noncontact inspection system has built-in electronics, motorized zoom optics, and high-resolution color camera. Its 6 x 3 x 5" (952 x 76 x 127-mm) X, Y, Z capacity accommodates parts and tooling. It has a cast aluminum base and column, and uses high-fidelity white light LED VectorLight and back light illuminators for optimal imaging. Standard features include 1 µm resolution linear scales, coarse/fine manual stage positioning, selectable cross-hair targets, and electronic edge detection and focus indicators.
RAM Optical Instrumentation Inc.
Ph: (585) 544-0450 Ext. 455
High-Precision Dimensional Metrology
The Innova optical measurement system delivers point-to-point (PTP) and field-of-view (FOV) noncontact measurements of semiconductor, optoelectronic, and MEMS devices. It provides FOV measurement down to 0.5 µm with measurement accuracy of 0.010 µm (10 nm). Suitable for manual single measurements, it can also be programmed for fully automated measurement sequences. Features include 200 x 200-mm high-precision X, Y stage travel, confocal microscope for accurate depth measurements, and subpixel interpolations of intensity transitions that allow submicron line-width measurements. Autofocus positions the microscope at the best focus point by analyzing edge sharpness.
Ph: (408) 452-8505
Turn and Burn EDM CNC
Model W5F CNC control allows continuous path control on a sixth (B) axis. This is not an indexer but a true continuous-path rotary-table control driving a Yukiwa JNC170 submersible rotary table. The W5F CNC also offers remote monitoring of the wire EDM, 1 gig flash ram storage, and instant boot-up of the control after shutdown. Included with the W5F is a wire threader with auto rethread that can start holes less than 0.015" (0.38-mm) diam.
EDM Network Inc.
Ph: (630) 466-5588
Wire EDM Machines
The AU Series wire EDM machines are available in four sizes. All feature a watercooled, reinforced highstrength alloy lower arm. High-resolution servomotors provide 0.000004" (0.00010-mm) resolution. Glass scales and intelligent servocontrolled wire threading technology are standard. This automatic wire threading delivers threading times of 10 sec spark-to-spark. Automatic wire threading at wire break point eliminates the need to return to start point, maximizing real cutting time. Surface finishes under Ra 0.18 µm are achieved.
Ph: (937) 463-7645
Surface Roughness Gage
An addition to the Lasercheck line of noncontact surface roughness measurement gages, this 1.0 x 0.75" (25.4 x 19-mm) measurement head weighs a few ounces. Measurements require less than one second and are repeatable. Three versions are available— portable handheld systems, fully automated systems with complete Windows software and automation accessories, and OEM versions for integration into machine tool and automated gaging equipment.
Optical Dimensions LLC
Ph: (949) 713-4081
Orion SPC Inspection Workstation is designed to eliminate waste with real-time SPC and lean inspection. Wasted motions, process steps, time etc. are eliminated. Load and Go Gaging keeps the operator's involvement to a minimum. Once parts are loaded and serial numbers scanned, analysis is instantaneous. Orion SPC SPC Advantage software performs necessary calculations and produces required reports.
Sigma Technology Services Inc.
Ph: (513) 591-4014
Wireless Data Collection System
DataSure wireless data collection system consists of: radios (end nodes) that connect to electronic tools' output ports; a gateway that connects to a PC via USB or serial port; and signal routers that extend system range in 100' (30-m) increments, and that can be configured to create a mesh architecture. It interfaces with most major brands of electronic measuring tools and software, and installs on PCs running Windows XP Professional. Once data are received, confirmation is sent to the source to indicate reception. If host system is down/busy, readings can be stored and re-sent later.
L.S. Starrett Co.
Ph: (978) 249-3551
On Machine Inspection
On Machine Verification (OMV) software creates inspection routines using original CAD part models to inspect prototypes, complex and large parts, multi-operation parts, and die and mold workpieces. Clicking various features on the modeled part automatically generates an inspection path. Using the OMP400 or MP700 probes, surface data to measure features such as multi-point circles, cylinders, cones, spheres, and planes are generated and processed. OMV software enables done-in-one processing, fast throughput, and inprocess checks to reduce costly scrap.
Ph: (847) 286-9953
Wire EDM Profiles PCD Tools
The PCD Edge System allows quick, precise profiling of PCD cutting tools using a Fanuc iC Series wire EDM machine. System consists of programming/probing/cutting software, a microfinish power supply/generator optimized for cutting PCD, a Hirschmann rotary axis, a Renishaw probe (mounted on the EDM machine), and a tool clamping system. It can be used to create original profiles or to sharpen (restore profiles on) worn PCDtipped tools. With no special programming knowledge, the user can create up to eight profile sections with specific parameters for each.
Methods EDM, Div. of Methods Machine Tools Inc.
Ph: (978) 443-5388
A wire EDM machine, the MD+PRO from Mitsubishi is intended for 24/7 production work in medical manufacturing. It comes standard with 0.006–0.012" (0.15–0.30 mm) wire-capable automatic threading, and is capable of a full servo B-axis indexing option, allowing for turn-and-burn application. The company's FA-20VS EDM comes standard with 0.004–0.014 (0.10–0.36 mm) wire-capable automatic threading. The V500 Power Supply provides the proper combination of voltage and peak current to machine PCD and CBN materials. It reportedly excels in poor-flushing-type work, providing 20% faster machining as compared to the FA-S Series.
MC Machinery Systems Inc.
Ph: (630) 616-5920
This article was first published in the August 2006 edition of Manufacturing Engineering magazine.