Science of the metrology has always played a vital (albeit often understated) role in the development of new technological applications. Without fast, accurate measurement capabilities, the modern production line could not function nearly as efficiently as it does, and a cornerstone of the metrology has long been the coordinate measuring machine (CMM).
The Metrology World
As new software and better systems integration allow CMMs to play an even more prominent role in production line innovation, the CMM is quickly coming to be seen as an essential component in making Industry 4.0 a reality.
Indeed, some of the most exciting recent developments driving what has come to be known as the fourth industrial revolution have been directly caused by breakthroughs in the metrology, and as recently as last year new software has been released that drastically increased CMM functionality and value. As CMM capacities increase and expand, they are fundamentally changing how production lines function, and they are making new connections and innovations possible. Here are just a few ways this is happening.
High Tech Software For More Integrated Production Lines
Product line integration is a key part of Industry 4.0, and new CMM software that allows a coordinate measuring machine to communicate directly with other machines upstream in the production process is a potentially revolutionary game changer. CMMs can now use data from measured parts to analyze weaknesses elsewhere in the production line, extrapolating from minor degradation in quality potential issues caused by wear and tear elsewhere in the assembly process. These developments bring us one step closer to the ideal of self-monitoring machines.
Reverse Engineering + 3D Printing = A Manufacturing Revolution
Reverse engineering and 3D printing are processes that have evolved independently (reverse engineering has been around for centuries, while 3D printing is very recent), but when brought together through cutting-edge metrology equipment and software they open up possibilities that were hitherto unimaginable. One of the most exciting recent developments for those interested in news and information about CMM equipment has been the realization that a CMM equipped with reverse-engineering software can provide a detailed CAD model based on an existing part, and that model can then be used as the basis for a new 3D printed part. This essentially allows for a much faster and more streamlined process for making a useable copy of any existing part through an almost entirely automated process.
White Light And Laser Scanners: A Bold New Measurement Frontier
Most traditional CMMs use a tactile probe to gather data, which has sometimes made it difficult to produce accurate measurements of parts that are too delicate to be touched. Innovative metrology solutions involving special white light techniques and laser scanners have had a major impact in allowing the kind of detailed, accurate measurement in a timely fashion that tactile CMMs provide without running the risk of distorting the measurements or damaging the part being measured.
The Metrology has always been an essential component in complex production. If a part is off by even a few millimeters, it can have a devastating impact on the final product, and yet taking accurate, high-level measurements has always posed a major challenge. With new breakthroughs in software, printing, reverse engineering, and measuring tools, metrology is leading the way into a bold new future for manufacturing.