The Future of Portable Metrology and Laser Scanning for Engineers
Are you experiencing bottlenecks producing prototypes with increasingly tight tolerances?
What about unwanted warranty defect claims, inaccurate data, or high return rates on parts?
Are you failing to meet requirement issues with FAI, PPAP, and AS9102?
This article examines the trends in manufacturing and the choices you have to make to measure and inspect parts and products for accuracy, quality, and consistency based on industry standards. Advancements in metrology equipment and software can help you maintain product functionality and make metrology easier to use.
More Demands for Advanced Metrology
Demand for metrology is growing, but not with just large manufacturers. Smaller companies can benefit, too.
In the past, suppliers used metrology to produce quality parts and products. Now, manufacturers in industries like automotive and aerospace are also requesting parts with tighter tolerances. This requires more advanced solutions.
In many industries, new innovations have opened up even more opportunities for advanced metrology solutions. One is the rise of AI and smart robots used in manufacturing. Two is the demand for cameras and sensors, such as laser scanners, to help with things like navigating self-driving vehicles.
In fact, the Global Metrology Market is expected to reach $1.25 billion by the end of 2027. That’s a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of over 6.82% through 2027 according to the latest report by Market Research Future®. This includes traditional coordinate measuring machines (CMMs), portable CMMs, laser scanners, and optical digitizers.
Current Metrology Obstacles: The Slowest Link in The Process
Manufacturers who need extremely tight part tolerances and accuracy may be skewed in the direction of the traditional manual CMM, but lack in flexibility. If you need to inspect high-volume, repetitive components with fewer resources you may need to look at an automated CMM.
Those who need more flexibility, especially with larger parts, can benefit from measuring equipment like portable metrology solutions. During the inspection process, it can reduce the number of iterations over days and even weeks to achieve the best possible product before it leaves the shop floor and with accuracy.
To choose the best option, you need to determine the right equipment and software for your measurement requirements.
“In a lot of organizations, (the traditional) CMM becomes the slowest link in the process,” shares Frank Thomas, Metrology and Additive Manufacturing Solution Specialist at Adaptive Corporation in a recent article in Digital Engineering. For one, many trips to the CMM for reworks can create bottlenecks.
In addition, Thomas explains, “You have to custom fixture the CMM, and there is a lot of turnover among programmers. Smaller companies with tighter budgets may look into buying a used traditional CMM, but there are challenges that may make them unappealing to these manufacturers.”
Some organizations have budget and staffing issues when thinking of investing in metrology solutions. One of the biggest challenges for smaller companies is equipment cost—large CMMs are expensive. They’re also complex to operate and manage leaving companies without experienced operators who can use them effectively.
Other key challenges in the manufacturing industry include getting accurate 3D models for inspection reports, validating the accuracy of converted 3D CAD models, and analyzing tolerances of manufactured parts.
In spite of these obstacles, there are solutions, like portable metrology.
How Can Portable Metrology Help Engineers?
Traditional metrology is tedious, complex, and costly. Portable methods are just the opposite.
According to Thomas, “Many engineers don’t understand how laser scanning or other forms of portable metrology can help them—when we show them the ability to 3D scan a part in a minute or
two and in three mouse clicks, tell them if it matches their tolerance requirements or not—many have never seen that,” Thomas explains.
Portable metrology equipment, unlike traditional methods, is less costly and much easier to use with little training required. Parts and products can be inspected right on the CNC machine or the shop floor. You can quickly find out if they don’t pass and will need to be reworked before sending them to the customer.
Advanced portable metrology tools are available that make them easier to use, less costly to deploy, more adaptable to current formats and software, and still provide measurement accuracy.
Top 6 Advantages of Portable Metrology and 3D scanning for Engineers
- Accurately measure parts in minutes regardless of size, shape complexity, material or color—even black or shiny surfaces, vibrations, or part displacement.
- Arm-free probing systems to generate high-accuracy measurements, while freely moving, testing, and measuring right on the shop floor, in the lab, off-site, etc., and in unstable environments.
- Easy to use and short learning curve makes it possible for operators to take reliable measurements regardless of their experience.
- Advanced tracking and reporting solutions are available to dramatically decrease project lead times while increasing quality inspections.
- High-quality CAD translation software to open, view, and compare converted 3D CAD models and quickly create quality inspection report forms and ballooned inspection drawings directly from other formats to meet FAI requirements.
- 3D Scanning solutions can quickly acquire accurate, high-resolution 3D measurements of physical objects even with complex contours and surfaces.
These are just a few solutions to help engineers provide tighter tolerances, avoid costly and time-consuming reworks, and provide measurement accuracy at a lower cost. Smaller companies can get started without much programming or operator training.
Demand for metrology is growing. The Global Metrology Market is expected to reach $1.25 billion by the end of 2027.
In the past, suppliers used metrology to produce quality parts and products. Now, manufacturers in industries like automotive and aerospace are also requesting parts with tighter tolerances and quicker turnarounds. This requires more advanced solutions.
To choose the best option, you need to determine the right equipment and software for your measurement requirements. Interested in exploring these options further? Contact Adaptive today.