Why use a metrology device on or near a machine tool? It isn’t just useful for making sure a tool is present or monitoring tools for wear or breakage. On-machine measurement technologies can save time and money, by speeding up processes and eliminating extra personnel, and they are a critical step in the movement towards “lights-out” manufacturing.
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Mitutoyo America Corp. (MAC; Aurora, IL) celebrated the grand opening of its new Detroit-area M3 Solution Center in Novi, MI, on June 28. The 8455 ft2 (785.5 m2) facility replaces one that the company had occupied for 38 years in nearby Plymouth, MI.
The challenges to manufacturing as it evolves into the 21st century are now familiar, and impact how metrology must contribute. Manufacturers face uncertain production volumes with roller-coaster demand, shorter production runs and faster product development cycles. Automation, while alluring as a way to reduce cost, needs to adjust.
Off-line programming software tools for CMMs allow manufacturers to increase measurement capacity and throughput by programming CMMs, probes, and fixtures before parts are made.
Metrology for medical devices needs to become more capable as those devices get more varied and complex. Manufacturers must inspect dental implants, coronary stents, orthopedic joints, and implanted electronic devices. Surgeons are increasingly using intricate, sometimes one-off, surgical tools. There is also a growing number of consumable items, such as hypodermic needles, made on rapid production lines. They all need ever more precise quality control.
Challenged by an increasingly niche-oriented automotive market, The Chrysler Group (Auburn Hills, MI) must increase the number of models it offers while decreasing its capital investment. The company plans to offer 50% more models in 2009 compared to 2004, according to John Felice, VP of manufacturing, technology and global enterprise for Chrysler.
Keeping products clean is becoming a more significant part of manufacturing as standards for cleanliness, deburring, and finish grow more stringent.
When a contract manufacturer sees an opportunity in the competitive aerospace market, it sets priorities aimed at providing the right combination of processes required to meet the industry’s exacting demands. Precision machining and finishing, parts inspection, and, of course, certifications from OEMs and industry alliances are at the top of the list. Increasingly, aerospace suppliers like Volvo Aero Connecticut (Newington, CT) are benefiting from five-axis machining, advanced CNC controls, motors and drives, robotic deburring, and on-machine inspection for a competitive advantage.
A recent effort by the Norton Advanced Applications Engineering Group demonstrates that for difficult-to-machine materials, grinding can be an economical alternative to other machining processes.
Cutting tool maker Shape-Master Tool Co. (Kirkland, IL) needed to expand its tool grinding capability beyond that of its conventional machines or run the risk of losing work to the competition.