Nikon Metrology is exhibiting at one of the top racing shows in the industry this year on December 1-3, 2011 in Booth #4376. Nikon will be featuring an MCA portable CMM arm along with MMDx laser scanner and Optical CMM with K-Scan at this upcoming show. Stop by the booth and see these products in action.
Nikon Metrology is living large at CMSC 2011 – Booth #708
Arizona Biltmore Hotel & Spa, Phoenix, AZ
At this year’s premiere metrology conference, Nikon Metrology is showcasing our large-scale products, including the hot, new G3 MV330/350 Laser Radar, the extremely versatile Optical CMM with MMDx Handheld Scanner and our revolutionary Digital Microscope ShuttlePix -400R.
These large-scale products bring your applications down to size – a productive, manageable size. Stop by the booth to see just how we do it! Technical experts are manning the booth to answer your questions and demo these large-scale products just for you. Stop by Booth #708 to experience 3D metrology at its best, brought to you from Nikon Metrology!
|MV330/350 Laser Radar||
Optical CMM w/MMDx Scanner
|Digital Microscope ShuttlePix -400R|
Not attending CMSC this year? That’s okay, just contact us at Marketing_US@NikonMetrology.com and we will set up a demonstration at your facility.
The Penn State Nittany Lions and Florida Gators will square-off in the 25th Anniversary Outback Bowl on New Year’s Day.
“When you talk about tradition and history of college football it just doesn’t get any better than Penn State and the University of Florida,” said Outback Bowl President/CEO Jim McVay. “It’s our 25th anniversary game and we can’t think of a better way to celebrate it on New Year’s Day than with Coach Paterno’s Nittany Lions and Coach Urban Meyer’s Gators.”
“The Gators and Nittany Lions, this is a dream match-up between two of the most storied programs in all of college football,” adds Bowl Chairman Mitch Shriber. “This should be a great one!”
The Outback Bowl will be played on January 1st at 1:00 PM at Raymond James Stadium.
Lori Shontz, senior editor of the Penn Stater Alumni Magazine, wrote an excellent article in her blog about Penn State’s school mascot, the Nittany Lion. Recently, the shrine underwent digital 3D scanning, which will enable it to be rebuilt or repaired in the event of severe damage. The university wanted to be able to preserve the 70 year-old sculpture, a gift from the senior class of 1940. This way, if any damage were ever inflicted on the mascot, Penn State could recreate the Lion from the 3D CAD model. They decided to bring in professionals from SURVICE Metrology. SURVICE Metrology is a close partner of Nikon Metrology and they used a Nikon Metrology Optical CMM to scan this beast of a mascot. Now that this project is complete, there are plans to possibly animate the mascot.
Click here to read more on this by Lori Shontz
A major Airbus research project to develop greater levels of accuracy in automated drilling and riveting has led to the formation of a consortium to build a robotic platform incoporating a Nikon Metrology K-series Optical CMM.
Since industrial robots do not meet Airbus process specifications; Airbus, Nikon Metrology, KUKA and Delmia have formed a consortium to build a new aerospace grade robotic platform. This patent-applied-for solution establishes a dynamic on-line link between a KUKA robot and a Nikon Metrology K-series Optical CMM. This system will result in a robotic platform that features adaptive real-time motion control. Airbus expects that the robotic solution – operating on aerospace accuracy tolerance – will reduce cost, cut production time and improve build quality once deployed.
“Company-wide, we drill around 50 million holes per year and half of these are manually processed,” says Mark Summers, Engineering Group leader, Automation and Robotics, Airbus UK. “Our research is part of a drive to significantly reduce manual processing across current and future aircraft programs as our build rate increases to meet market demand. Standard industrial robots are not accurate enough for our process specifications, as absolute positional accuracy of ±0.2 mm is required in many application areas. Our team has brought together two developmental partners, KUKA UK and Nikon Metrology to address this problem. We believe we have come up with a winning solution, which could bring a flexible, low-cost robotic platform into the aerospace sector.”
A flexible, low cost robotic platform for the aerospace sector
Initially the system will be applied to two KUKA production robots that jointly pick up an unfinished large wing assembly, and present this part to a drilling/riveting station at a fixed location. Both the drilling/riveting machine and the part being manufactured (through its fixture) are tracked dynamically by means of infrared LEDs and the Nikon Metrology K-series Optical CMM station. As part of the control feedback loop, the position of the part with respect to the machine is systematically returned to the robot controller. This Nikon Metrology/KUKA robotic solution is responsible for positioning wing part holes and rivets at CAD-specified wing locations with accuracy levels 10 times higher than before.
“This project has been a real partnership between all involved parties,” explains Roger Holden, Managing Director of Nikon Metrology. “Everybody agreed that considering part programs being so large and accuracy requirements so high, an off-line robot programming solution was needed. DELMIA’s V5 and KUKA’s VRC software provide an excellent solution that – linked with Nikon Metrology interface and integration – is capable of consistently driving the robot to run programs accurately, by referencing back to the CAD master dynamically on-site. Nikon Metrology now has the order for the first production system to be put into action at Airbus, and we are now going live with the product at Filton, UK.”
Intelligent, real-time adaptive robot control driven by Nikon Metrology
The unique and fully integrated metrology system measures the virtual world first, and adapts the real world to fit. This intuitive system is called Adaptive Robot Control, as it makes the robot intelligent enough to make its own adaptations. This means that the robot can accurately compensate for robot deformation (under dynamic load), temperature fluctuations and mechanical play. The metrology system makes the robot aware of deflections by measuring the relative positions of the target and the robot as it moves toward it. The robot is able to coordinate that data on-line and make the necessary compensations instantaneously.
Since the robot(s) carry out tasks at great positional accuracy and faster than a person, they could be used for a range of tasks, such as sealant application, component handling, fastening and machining. Such robotic platforms could become truly multi-functional. The multi-functionality is generally agreed to become key for the aerospace industry, as single process automation tools are often under-utilized, owing to the long cycle times for each wing set, for example. Another benefit is that the robotic system, in effect, becomes an in-line CMM, which is capable of certifying jigs and products in real time. There is potential to re-certify jigs without taking them out of production at regular intervals. Instead, geometry changes in the jig could be identified in the real-time production environment. Similarly, it could become unnecessary to divert products to a laboratory for QA, as the robot could measure them as they are being made via a multi-functional 3D scanning end effector.
Higher level of simulation prove-out and robot integration
Although beneficial to any robot configuration, the Adaptive Robot Control solution responds well to highly accurate robot operation requirements in the aerospace sector. One reason for this is the extensive use of lightweight materials like aluminum, which requires far more accurate drilling and riveting. Since the loads robots are asked to bear are too great for a single robot, load sharing among multiple cooperating robots has become common practice. The accurate robot solutions are designed to smoothly interact with one another, and are now made available through Nikon Metrology integration services.
Nikon Metrolgy/KUKA robot solutions can now be commissioned off-line, eliminating time consuming robot teach-in procedures. All of the robot programs being created off-line use the DELMIA V5 Robotics simulation solution. KUKA connects real-time information on the movements of its own Virtual Robotic Manipulator (VRC) into the second-generation Realistic Robot Simulation (RRS2) software it developed in conjunction with DELMIA. This results in a significantly higher level of simulation prove-out and integration into real robots. The Airbus project takes advantage of this solution, with the final full syntax programs being run on the KUKA VRC, enabling accurate cycle-times and clash detection.
GE Van Wert Company, Inc.
461 Boston Street, Suite B4
Topsfield, MA 01983
Experience metrology solutions first-hand as our experts provide product demonstrations and technical expertise regarding your most difficult applications. Products displayed will be microscopes, video measuring systems, optical CMMs, portable arms, and handheld scanners.
Tuesday & Wednesday, October 26th & 27th | 9:00am-4:00pm
Please RSVP by October 22nd by contacting Eric Pearsall at (978) 887-3389 or email GEVanWert@aol.com.
2130 Point Blvd., Suite 300
Elgin, Illinois 60123
CLICK HERE to RSVP to this event!
Experience metrology solutions first-hand as our experts provide product
demonstrations and technical answers to your most difficult applications.
Products displayed will be optical CMMs, portable arms, handheld scanners,
Tuesday, October 26th | 9:00am-4:00pm
CLICK HERE to RSVP to this event!
3-D laser scanning speeds up part inspection while capturing freeform surfaces and geometric feature details.
Dimensional error margins that compound too enthusiastically throughout the parts assembly process introduce reduced product quality and, subsequently, lengthy corrective actions. To avoid this, accurate and efficient metrology solutions keep a close eye on component and assembly geometry until the final product is proofed. The use of touch-probe measurement in part-to-CAD (computer-aided design) inspection and reverse engineering applications offers accurate results, but faces limitations in terms of inspection throughput and freeform inspection capability.
3-D laser scanning, which has matured during the past 10 years, is on the verge of revolutionizing the micrometrology market in automotive, aerospace and many other markets. Laser scanners accurately capture parts of various shape, size and material in a fraction of the time required for touch-probe measurement, resulting in increased inspection productivity. In addition, they acquire hundreds of thousand or millions of points across the entire geometry of the scanned object, making it possible to accurately describe freeform surfaces and digitize complete components.
The surface information is used for part-to-CAD inspection or to reverse engineer CAD models from the physical object. Having a full digital model of the test specimen means that any type of feature or surface inspection can still be done at any time without having to redo the measurement. Last but not least, compared to touch probes that can potentially scratch fragile components or press flexible parts, laser scanning is entirely noncontact.
During operation, 3-D laser line scanners beam a wide laser stripe on the surface of the part being inspected. A camera captures the projected laser stripe and converts it into thousands of 3-D measurement points using triangulation and digital imaging. The scanner itself is mounted on a so-called localizer that is used to determine the absolute position of the scanner in 3-D space. By combining the scanner measurement points with the scanner position coming from the localizer, accurate 3-D coordinates of the scanned surface are determined. A range of localizers are possible, ranging from articulated arms to traditional coordinate measuring machines (CMMs) up to industrial robots.
The digital capability of recent scanner generations allows scanned surfaces to be displayed on screen in real-time, and dynamically adapt sensor performance according to varying surface material, color and reflectivity. To suit operators’ specific inspection needs, laser scanner solutions are available for different measurement volumes, accuracy classes and in handheld, CMM and robotic configurations.
Convenience of Handheld Scanning
Handheld laser scanners are either mounted on an articulated measurement arm or tracked by an optical tracking system (optical CMM). Both manual systems handle on-site troubleshooting tasks just as easily as in-depth dimensional inspection on the production line. The compact size and low weight of handheld scanners enable operators to run metrology jobs at other divisions or plants, or even at the customer’s site.
Where articulated measurement arms offer a limited action radius, an optical CMM covers a larger measurement area in which the operator can freely walk around while manually operating the scanner. The optical CMM dynamically tracks the position and orientation of the scanner as well as the object, providing a metrology-enabled workplace that even fits an entire car.
In the early stages of product development, handheld laser scanners are often used to digitize rapid prototypes or clay models. Besides part-to-CAD inspection, a manual laser scanner comes in handy when physical shape modifications crafted by the designer need to be fed back into CAD. Without leaving marks on the clay model, it provides a detailed operator-independent description of the surface, thanks to the high number of measured points.
A head light, a suspension part, a wheel rim, a bumper or a plastic air filter box—each individual die or mold component can be easily checked to ensure dimensional specifications are actually met. The creation of graphic full-part comparison reports accelerates this qualitative evaluation, and guarantees that material shrinkage or spring-back effects are controlled correctly. After vehicles are assembled, handheld 3-D scanning is widely used to run accurate and efficient flush-and-gap verification.
Among numerous reverse engineering applications, handheld laser scanners provide value when digitizing the geometric space envelope that is available, instead of relying on CAD files that may no longer be up-to-date. The acquired 3-D scans digitally reflect the available space that is available to design the structural connection between tow bar and a vehicle chassis, or powerful customized turbo chargers that fit into tuned sports cars.
When top accuracy and repetitive inspection means are required for the job, dedicated 3-D laser scanners for mechanical CMMs come into play. The availability of complete packages that include CMM scanner hardware and software allow most existing CMMs to be retrofitted with 3-D laser scanning capability.
Economically very relevant is that laser scanning accelerates CMM feature inspection. Instead of numerous indexing head rotations and multiple CMM axes displacements that are needed to operate a touch probe, the CMM scanner performs inspection along straightforward linear and polygon motion paths. Every second pinched off from the inspection cycle is multiplied by the number of cycles run on the CMM, adding up to time savings.
Simplified motion paths of the CMM scanner also mean more straightforward off-line CMM programming. This compares favorably with tactile inspection where elaborated programming effort is required to define a rather lengthy sequence of touch sensor movements and measurements.
CMM laser scanners are suited for detailed sheet metal feature inspection. For this purpose, laser scanners with multiple laser stripes and cameras have been developed. For example, a CMM scanner with three-stripes, each shifted 120 degrees from one another, views the inspected surface simultaneously from three different angles. This eliminates the need to scan certain surface areas a second time using a different scanner perspective. As this further reduces scanner motion and rotation, multistripe laser scanners accelerate feature inspection of sheet metal as well as molded metal and plastic parts. From the acquired point clouds, specialized software automatically detects the features, calculates their characteristics and graphically reports CAD deviations.
In the assembly process of sheet metal parts, CMM laser scanning is deployed to scan the shape of mating surfaces in order to verify whether they will fit together correctly. A better alternative than putting both parts on a master buck is to virtually assemble the parts by scanning their mating surfaces and verifying the connection on a graphic software display.
As a matter of fact, these scanners successfully deal with sheet metal, castings, composites, injection molds, foams and even glass. Detailed 3-D scans also assist in the development and repair of expensive die and mold production equipment. In this regard, detailed measurement of tools and first parts are very important in tuning and verifying the dimensional quality of stamped, casted or injection-molded parts. Point cloud data acquired through laser scanning represent a valuable resource because scan data is used for realistic FE meshes for thermal, strength and dynamic simulations, in case CAD data is missing or not up-to-date.
Power of Inline Robotic Laser Scanning
In production facilities for automotive parts, manual or CMM-driven geometric inspection tasks may slow down manufacturing throughput. In response to the growing need for accurate inline inspection solutions, laser scanners also have found their way into robotic metrology solutions. The problem with most robotic scanning solutions on the market is that their inspection precision ultimately depends on the motion accuracy of the robot itself. As robots typically lack position and path accuracy, they are simply not suitable for 3-D metrology.
The latest innovation in robotic laser scanning is combining a laser scanner installed on an industrial robot with an optical CMM. The purpose of the optical CMM is to dynamically track the accurate position and orientation of the laser scanner. This information is essential in this robotic laser scanning approach, as it obsoletes cyclic robot calibration and eliminates the influence of robot warm-up, drift and backlash. As a result, this solution transforms industrial robots into highly accurate and efficient inline metrology solutions.
As the optical CMM tracks the robot scanner entirely independently, it does not require positional data from the robot. This simplifies the user interface and radically reduces communication overhead between robot and metrology. Inline robotic laser scanning with metrology-level accuracy fits inspection applications where objects need to be scanned in their entirety, such as sheet metal body panels and body-in-white as well as forged or molded parts.
Altogether, laser scanning is an exciting and promising technology that has already proven great value in a wide range of metrology applications, in particular in the automotive industry. Also in other production environments across other industries—such as household appliances, plastic parts, turbine blades—where components are inspected for optimum assembly, 3-D laser scanning will further gain importance and undoubtedly increase its application reach in combination with tactile inspection methods.
Booth #E-5325 will be featuring Nikon Metrology’s wide range of metrology solutions including: CMMs with both touch probe and 3D laser scanning capabilities, video measuring systems, Industrial microscopes, portable CMM arms with both touch probe and 3D scanning capabilities, X-ray and CT inspection systems and the latest in metrology software.
Nikon Metrology has a second booth at the IMTS show this year. Booth #N-6260, located in the North exhibit hall, will be featuring two of our large scale metrology solutions including our Adaptive Robot Control (ARC) and our K-Series Optical CMM.
This auto-alignment functionality obsoletes the requirement for manual and time consuming re-alignments. The K-series system comprises a camera system with 3 camera units, a hand-held SpaceProbe for touch probe measurements and a portable controller with measurement and analysis software.
In the past, measuring complete tractors was almost impossible for us. Only single parts or subcomponents of the complete vehicle were measured. The “auto-alignment” feature is an additional advantage of an articulated arm CMM and another reason for us to select a K-Series system”. By using three reference markers on the object, it is possible to measure all small movements dynamically and absolutely. The main advantages we get from the auto-alignment is that, when the tractor position changes, the initial alignment measured with the SpaceProbe is automatically updated. The auto-alignment also enables repositioning the camera system in order to measure hidden areas or to further extend the measurement volume.
An additional advantage is that besides its application in coordinate measurement technology, the K-system is also specialized in dynamic measurements for suspension analysis or structure movement analysis, for example.
When it comes to the testing applications, the camera system can detect the smallest movements of the structure by measuring the small infrared LEDs. The dynamics software outputs functional correlations, enabling the identification of dimensional deviations as well as variations in the structure of the components.
Anton Nirenberg, also from Product Engineering, places particular importance on high functionality and reliability: “Our workshop is often flooded with sun, but the K600 environment light filtering function operates perfectly.” This filtering function optimizes the applicability and robustness for measuring in all kind of industrial environments.
Covering 3000 km between Darwin and Adelaide
The challenge is simple. Cross the Australian desert as fast as you can without one drop of fuel. Fourteen selected engineering students of Groep T Engineering School in Leuven, Belgium, took up the challenge to hunt for a medal in the World Solar Challenge, the world championship for solar-driven vehicles.
From their predecessor team they inherited a solid, proven vehicle design along with ample know‑how and experience. In partnership with high-tech companies such as Nikon Metrology, these youngsters succeeded in developing the second generation of the solar race car, named Umicar Infinity.
“The focus of our engineering teams in creating the Umicar Infinity was somewhat different than what is usual in regular automotive vehicle development programs,” stated Koen Van Beneden, Head of Solar Team Marketing.
“To get the most out of limited solar cell power, our race car was engineered specifically for low weight, little aerodynamic
resistance and high energy efficiency of vehicle driveline mechanisms. The Umicar Infinity is a one-seater that only weighs 175 kg, and features dynamic wind resistance that is roughly six times better than premium serial-production sports cars. With just the electrical power of a vacuum cleaner available, the Umicar Infinity is capable of reaching speeds higher than 140 km/h!”
Pertinent need for metrology-level alignment
To create the race car’s rigid, light-weight space frame, engineers used extruded aluminum tubes that were welded together. To compensate for slight frame deformation due to the welding heat, engineers relied on technology from Nikon Metrology. After welding, the positions of key locations on the frame were measured using the hand-held SpaceProbe of the Nikon Metrology K-610 Optical CMM system.
This optical metrology solution operates using a fixed carbon-fiber structure that houses three linear CCD cameras. Through triangulation, the system is able to accurately track the positions of infrared LEDs integrated into the SpaceProbe that is held onto the frame point being measured. Based on the acquired frame coordinates, the team was able to verify specific shape characteristics of the frame. Engineers additionally measured datum points to define
reference planes to be used for alignment purposes later on in the subsystem assembly process.
According to Pieter Vangeel, Team Manager of Solar Team, alignment was critical, in particular when connecting the completed frame to the suspension subsystems. “The suspension units play an essential role in aligning the three wheels with respect to the body of the race car. The powered rear wheel has a swing-arm suspension unit, while a double-wishbone suspension unit keeps the front wheels in position. Special attention went to the locations on the frame where suspension parts need to be fitted, because they require perfect orientation to one another. Therefore, we relied on the Nikon Metrology K-610 system to accurately identify the positions of all suspension attachment points on the frame structure. With this information in hand, we were able to weld all connections between the space frame and the suspension units with high positioning precision.”
Further pushing race car’s operation efficiency limits
The next highly sensitive alignment job was the positioning of the aerodynamic body shell around the rest of the vehicle. Pieter Vangeel noted that the Nikon Metrology equipment, once again, proved very useful in adding metrology accuracy to the attachment procedure of major vehicle subassemblies. “Precise measurements and finishing are an absolute must in order to ensure that the wheels
are in their optimum position and orientation. Even the slightest wheel misalignment causes excess tire wear and mechanical friction. This means that we would potentially lose valuable time with additional tire exchange stops, each requiring about ten minutes standstill time. And additional mechanical friction would decrease the dynamic performance of the Umicar Infinity, reducing vehicle speed through lower operation efficiency.”
“Nikon Metrology truly helped Solar Team to develop a better race car,” Pieter Vangeel stated when asked about the role of Nikon Metrology in this ambitious Umicar Infinity project. “Metrology-level assistance in assembling main vehicle subsystems was essential in obtaining higher precision and better vehicle dynamics. We took the mechanical accessory gauge, which was used in Nikon Metrology alignment test campaigns, with us to Australia to perform wheel alignment tests in between racing days. The gauge allowed us to re-establish the original alignment, compensating for any wheel misalignments that resulted from mechanical and tire wear. Although measurements only take minutes, the impact of precision alignment has a significant impact on the competitive edge of our race car. We are convinced that this will propel the Umicar Infinity to success in the Solar Challenge world championship race.”
The wireless SpaceProbe and graphic operator assistance speed up inspection.
K-Series supports fast inspection of geometric features and surface points in and around skid steer loaders.
Visual feedback highlights measurement validity and displays where the next point is located.
Engineers at the Gehl South Dakota production plant in Madison found a faster way to verify large production fixtures and manufactured parts of construction and agricultural equipment. They simply position a portable K-Series Optical CMM from Nikon Metrology on the production floor, and measure points of choice right away using a wireless tactile SpaceProbe. This ergonomic metrology system enables Gehl to halve geometric verification time-spending on chassis and driver compartment, and yields deeper insight when troubleshooting equipment prototypes.
Farmers and construction workers value compact Gehl skid loaders, telescopic handlers, track loaders, excavators, all-wheel-steer loaders, articulated loaders and asphalt pavers for their ingenuity, innovation and reliability. At this production site in Madison, engineers manufacture skid and track steer loaders and telescopic handlers that have been designed at the company headquarters in Wisconsin. To monitor the production quality of this compact outdoor equipment, Gehl staff run geometric measurement right at the production line.
“Quality control involves the inspection of selected geometric features and surface points on steel parts after being stamped, drilled, and painted,” explains Joseph Palmiotto, the quality assurance manager for Gehl in Madison. “We not only monitor finished parts, but also verify mechanical fixtures used for part production and assembly of chassis and driver compartment, for example. To more efficiently execute metrology tasks on components of various sizes, we moved from an articulated measuring arm with a limited reach to a Nikon Metrology K-Series system that covers a considerably larger measuring volume early last year.”
Read the rest of this article in Fabricating & Metalworking magazine
As the world leader in armored prestige vehicles, CARAT-Duchatelet counts sheiks, kings, presidents, CEOs and other wealthy VIPs among its customers. Before stretching and armoring luxury vehicles, CARAT-Duchatelet engineers remove seats and trim, and scan the entire vehicle body using Nikon Metrology K-Scan MMD. The geometric 3D scan acquired by this portable metrology solution forms the basis for drastic vehicle modifications and detailed craftsmanship. The portable Nikon Metrology K-Scan MMD enables them to ergonomically capture vehicle interior and exterior in one pass.
Adding security and luxury to prestige vehicles
Far away from mass and series production, CARAT-Duchatelet integrates the highest level of security and luxury into prestige sedans, limousines and off-road vehicles. Currently, over 40 Heads-of-State from Africa, Europe, the Middle East, Far East and former Soviet Republics are chauffered in CARAT-Duchatelet vehicles. To armor the VIP vehicles, CARAT-Duchatelet engineers and craftsmen stretch vehicles both in length and height, and create personalized luxury interiors. Today, the Belgian company is recognized as the world leader in armor integration and the manufacture of specialty vehicles in the automotive industry.
At CARAT-Duchatelet, the armor development and integration process starts with crafting armor component shapes in wood. Since wood is easy to manipulate, engineers quickly gain a rough idea of how new armoring will fit into a particular vehicle brand or type. This is where reverse engineering comes into play. “Using Nikon Metrology K-Scan MMD, we scan the entire vehicle body; one time with the wooden parts attached and one time without,” says Eric Appelmans, R&D engineer at CARAT-Duchatelet in Liège, Belgium. “This approach allows us to accurately digitize the vehicle body and generate digital CAD information. Detailed CAD data provides the insight we need to create an invisible bullet-tight cage by optimizing the design of steel plate and glass armor parts.”
Optical CMM provides unmatched scanning comfort
The setup of the Nikon Metrology K-Scan MMD system is fairly straightforward. The engineer positions the camera of the Optical CMM module next to the vehicle body. The three high-resolution CCD cameras of the Optical CMM dynamically track the precise location and orientation of the handheld 3D Nikon Metrology MMD laser scanner. “The absence of mechanical constraints creates a superior comfort level when scanning the surfaces of the body,” explains Eric Appelmans. “The scanner is equipped with a laser stripe of 100 mm, which enables us to acquire measurement points at a rate of tens of thousands per second. With Nikon Metrology K-Scan MMD, we easily and consistently reach the required measurement accuracy of 100 micron. But most important for us is the ergonomic handgrip of the scanner and the unmatched ease-of-use delivered by the system’s optical CMM technology.”
When scanning is ongoing, it is important for the user to see the point cloud develop on the computer screen in real-time. Nikon Metrology KUBE software manages the captured point cloud of the vehicle body, which typically consists of hundreds of thousands or even millions of accurate measurement points. To conveniently access all locations inside the car body, CARAT-Duchatelet engineers carefully select optical CMM positions that provide optimum coverage of the scan area. To compensate for any vehicle movement during measurement, the operator applies the Optical CMM’s unique dynamic reference feature. 3 to 6 small LEDs stuck to the car body and dynamically tracked by the Optical CMM ensure that all movement is compensated accurately. Using this information, the K-Scan MMD system is able to dynamically relocate the laser scanner position, avoiding leap-frogging or part realignment. K-Scan MMD also supports multiple standpoints for the Optical CMM. Data acquired from different Optical CMM locations refer to the same reference axes system and contribute to a single unified point cloud.
Point cloud data drives the CAD generation process
To reduce the amount of measurement data, CARAT-Duchatelet engineers apply curvature-based filtering algorithms to eliminate obsolete measurement data in flat plane surface areas. “After point filtering, we export the point cloud in IGES or ASCII format, and import the file in CATIA V5 software. On the basis of the point cloud data, we create a surface mesh and generate CAD surfaces. For us, the process of fitting freeform CAD surfaces through measurement points represents a mostly automatic procedure. For particular edges and roundings that are deemed critical, we manually fit surfaces and select the optimum level of smoothing. This flexibility enables us to take control of the CAD generation process and obtain high CAD definition quality.”
According to Eric Appelmans, scanning with K-Scan MMD provides better insight in a shorter time frame compared to taking manual touch probe measurements using an articulated measurement arm. “K-Scan MMD offers a comfort level and data acquisition rate that are simply beyond comparison. Our approach of digitizing a complete car in one pass at the start of the project avoids many costly and time-consuming iterations later on the process. This enables us to design and develop all different vehicle modifications in the most effective way.”
Scanning streamlines all vehicle modification actions
Starting from the CAD data they generated, the R&D team of CARAT-Duchatelet specifies detailed requirements for steel and glass armoring and interior design. For radical vehicle modifications – such as vehicle extension and raised roof – a pre-scan may be executed to design adaptations to body, doors, hinges and windows, and driveline transmission. “The K-Scan MMD helps us a great deal in streamlining all our vehicle modification actions, providing top quality in the shortest time frame possible. With accurate and complete CAD data, we minimize the risk for development surprises that may introduce expensive rework and process delay.”
To read more on our website, click here.
The world has seen several manufacturing revolutions over the years, from Henry Ford’s introduction of the mass production manufacturing line to the onset of robotic automation. Manufacturing is a process that has evolved, yet a few core tenets and behaviors have remained steadfast throughout.
One behavior has been central to the manufacturing: a part is manufactured, and then it is checked for quality. That behavior has evolved slightly as demand for manufactured goods has grown, and manufacturing has become a more mature process. Now not even every part is checked, and sample quality checks are performed here and there. Over the last decade or so, we have pushed the process further by bringing some of the metrology lab to the production line, thus automating the “make-the-part-then-check-it” concept, but not really reinventing it. Every CMM manufacturer has a list of projects where they have introduced a CMM to a fully robotic manufacturing cell or line. This has generated some industry debate on what makes a CMM “shop floor” for this ever-growing CMM niche. As we progress iteratively, we are able to automate the inspection, creating a nice increase in productivity. Set-up expenses and production floor real estate, however, may still be prohibitive enough to keep the QC lab off of the production floor. The “make / check” mentality is largely still intact.
What if we needed to drill a hole, but knew the hole would be in the wrong spot before we drilled it? We’d need a time machine to find this out, of course. But if we knew the hole was off before we drilled it, we could correct the error and never drill the bad hole. Theoretically, we could approach zero defects.
If we look at manufacturing differently, we can arrive at a new manufacturing paradigm without a time machine. There may be another way around the “make / check” behavior of the past. Let’s reexamine the previous scenario.
What if we measured a hole location before we drilled the hole? If we knew the hole was mislocated beforehand, we could simply adjust the location and avoid the mistake. Further, if we used external metrology equipment to measure a hole beforehand, would we need to measure if again afterward?
Can we do it today?
Let’s break this down a bit further. What would we need to know to be able to measure a hole before we drilled it? First, we would need to accurately locate the piece or substrate that the hole is going to be drilled into. Second, we would need to know where the drill head was in relation to the substrate. Finally, we would need a stable, repeatable way to introduce the part to the drill.
If we could do this, we could make what seems futuristic and impossible a modern-day reality.
Today, industrial robots provide a very repeatable method for reproducing a manufacturing task, and Nikon Metrology’s Optical CMM (OCMM) offers the ability to track locations of multiple frames simultaneously. In the drill analogy, we could assign one frame to the drill and another to the part. We could use industrial robots to introduce a part to a drilling station and locate the part to the location where a hole needs to be drilled. Nikon’s Optical CMM understands where the part is, and where the drill is in relation to the part. Using the drill (location) itself as the measurement probe, Nikon’s OCMM can actually measure the hole location before the drill command is executed. More importantly, if the Nikon OCMM detects that the part is out of position, it can send error corrections to the robot(s) to correct the hole location prior to executing the drill command.
The spirit of what we are doing is simple: we are measuring before we drill. We use metrology equipment to assist manufacturing, not check it. By doing this, we are able to stop errors and eliminate that ancient “make / check” process. Currently, Nikon Metrology packages this concept as Adaptive Robot Control (ARC).
Adaptive Robot Control (ARC) in Airbus UK
Airbus UK has already put this technology to use. The airplane manufacturer estimates they that drill 50 million holes per year, fifty percent of which are manual operations. They require a design book tolerance of 0.2mm. Their new aircrafts have 14,000 holes per wing with no chance of manual touch-up, and zero tolerance for scrap wings.
With the use of Nikon Metrology’s Adaptive Robot Control, Airbus successfully completed a fully automated drilling station for the Airbus A340 D-Nose. In addition to the Nikon OCMM running ARC, the cell incorporated KUKA, Gemcor, and Delmia technologies.
The cell uses two cooperative KUKA robots, which present the Airbus work piece to the Gemcor drilling station in the location where a hole is to be drilled. In the Airbus scenario, the Nikon OCMM - acting as an external metrology “monitor” – observes where the drill is to be placed prior to the hole being drilled. If the Nikon OCMM determines that the hole is out of place, it sends corrections to the robots prior to the drilling sequence. Only after the Nikon OCMM determines that the drilling location is correct will the drilling sequence commence. Airbus is measuring before drilling, not afterward.
In the end, the addition of metrology-assisted manufacturing to the Airbus A340 D-Nose cell reduced assembly time by half. It replaced 19 skilled employees (who were re-deployed onto the Airbus A400M manufacturing process). Finally, in three years of operation, the cell has not mis-drilled a single hole. There has never been an unexplained issue or concession due to ARC.
Obviously, metrology-assisted manufacturing isn’t quite a time machine, yet it isn’t science fiction either. It simply represents our ability to reinvent how we manufacture to get truly amazing results. Adaptive Robot Control offers the ability to truly revolutionize a continually evolving process – something which would make even Henry Ford proud.
Click here to watch a short YouTube video about Adaptive Robot Control
Nikon Metrology and Verisurf Software have joined forces to make it possible for manufacturers to drive all Nikon Metrology portable metrology devices from Verisurf’s common software platform. Supported Nikon Metrology devices include the Laser Radar, K-Series optical CMMs configured with scanners and probes, MCA II articulated arm configured with scanners and probes, and the iGPS.
“Verisurf is proud to partner with Nikon Metrology and offer engineers a major breakthrough in measurement and inspection,” said Ernie Husted, president of Verisurf. “Having advanced inspection software that can be used with all of their metrology devices will dramatically increase efficiency. Manufacturers will save countless hours otherwise spent learning and using multiple software interfaces, while significantly reducing software maintenance and technical support costs.”
“This partnership is a huge benefit to our metrology customers,” said Doug Kappler, Director of Nikon Metrology Large Scale Division. “In addition to being able to offer a single software platform for all Nikon Metrology portable metrology devices, the software provides fully automated and programmable measurements.” We hope customers of Verisurf will stop and see how this partnership with Nikon Metrology provides world-class products for the everyday user.
Verisurf’s new X platform is the latest release of its popular computer-aided inspection and reverse engineering software. The X platform gives engineers unprecedented value with new device interfaces, improved inspection guidance functionality and feature extraction for reverse engineering. An updated VDI has added many new non-contact measurement and automation controls for the Nikon Metrology Laser Radar, enabling this sophisticated metrology device to perform at its highest level.
Nikon Metrology and Verisurf exhibited the solution at the Coordinate Metrology Systems Conference (CMSC) in Reno from July 13-15.
Verisurf Software, Inc.
Verisurf Software, Inc. is a privately held metrology software development company committed to delivering advanced computer-aided inspection and reverse engineering solutions. Verisurf software lets manufacturers produce higher quality products in less time and at a lower cost by using highly automated paperless, 3D model-based inspection processes, rather than hand measurements and 2D paper drawings. For more information, visit www.verisurf.com.