The Role of Automation in Production Metrology

Automatic placement, measurement and sorting, utilizing an optical coordinate measuring machine

3D metrology supplier Bruker Alicona are set to present at EMO 2019, demonstrating how an optical coordinate measuring machine can be utilized to load, measure and sort OK and not OK parts automatically. Central to this automation solution is the extension of Bruker Alicona‘s CMM machine with collaborative robotics.

Bruker Alicona CMM machine

Bruker Alicona CMM machine

Combining high-resolution optical 3D metrology and collaborative robotics is a familiar area for Bruker Alicona. The company‘s "Cobots", which are made up of a collaborative, six-axis robot and a high-resolution optical 3D measuring sensor, are firmly rooted in the industry and are used for automatic measurement of some of the smallest component features across every metalworking sector.

The connection of Bruker Alicona’s optical coordinate measuring system µCMM with a collaborative robot arm is new and will be presented as a "Pick & Place" solution live at the EMO 2019 show. The component measured is an established application for industrial quality assurance customers, showcasing the real-life practicalities of the system to visitors to EMO 2019.

Paired with German, high-performance stamping supplier Stepper, Bruker Alicona will present the automated measurement of three-fold stamping inserts. Position, shape and roughness is measured with only one optical sensor.

Stepper with Bruker Alicona CMM

Stepper with Bruker Alicona CMM

Reduced Measuring Times

The stamping insert is a part of punching tools. These punching tools are used, among other applications, to manufacture automotive contact parts. Stepper manufactures up to 2,550 contacts every minute; in just a few years three billion parts will have already been produced.

"In terms of measuring, most important are shape deviation, surface quality and the position of the tool relative to the outer contour," explains Head of Laser Ablation and High-Speed Cutting at Stepper Marcel Heisler.

Heisler added: "With Bruker Alicona, I cover all of this with just one optical sensor."

The ideal solution is the µCMM coordinate measuring system for the stamping supplier. The system is able to deliver high accuracy measurements, even for components with single-digit µm tolerances. Additionally, users benefit from the system’s efficacy and practicality, which has been designed for the use of a number of operators.

Utilizing an optical coordinate measuring system is a milestone for Stepper, who apply various optical metrology solutions in their quality assurance. A key benefit of the system is the notable increase in the speed of optical measurements. Users do not need to scan the whole component to be able to check the relevant component geometries.

"We only measure those parts of the outer contour that we really need," Heisler explains. "This reduces measurement time by more than [two thirds]."

Measure Components with More Than 90°

An additional benefit when considering the increased efficiency of the system is the functionality of lateral probing. Lateral probing allows users to optically measure vertical surfaces without needing to re-clamp the component. This is made possible by "Vertical Focus Probing" technology. With this Vertical Focus Probing technology, Bruker Alicona has extended its core technology Focus Variation in spring 2019 by offering an array of new applications in industrial measurement technology.

Stamping supplier Stepper can also envision new applications for the technology, stating: "The possibility of measuring flanks with more than 90° opens up a completely new spectrum of measurable parts for us. So far, we have mainly measured embossed and bent parts. Now we can also measure cylindrical, continuous contours such as cutting punches and cutting inserts.”

Ensuring Shape Accuracy and Surface Quality

Along with the position of the tool, measurements include the dimensional accuracy as well as surface quality of the stamping insert. As Stepper manufactures three parts simultaneously with each stroke, they are able to assess the compliance with tolerances in comparison to CAD data. Additionally, all three molds are guaranteed to match exactly as a result of shape measurements.

The quality of the surface is confirmed by measuring its roughness. Depending on user requirements, operators can choose between profile-based and areal-based measurement. Often, tool specialist Stepper employs area-based surface measurements due to the fact that roughness parameters Sa/Sq/Sz gathered through this method allow more detailed information about the components‘ surface state to be collected.

Automation with "Pick & Place“

The Bruker Alicona µCMM is a purely optical micro coordinate measuring system. Users are able to combine benefits seen in both tactile coordinate measuring technology and optical surface metrology. Only using one sensor, a component‘s dimension, position, shape, and roughness can be measured with high levels of precision.

The range of surfaces the system can measure includes common industrial materials and composites such as plastics, PCD, CFRP, ceramics, and chrome, among many others. Matte and highly polished components can also be measured with exacting precision, traceability, and repeatability.

The ability of Bruker Alicona’s optical µCMM machine to be used in production is due to the use of a range of hardware and software extensions. Each system is fitted with air-bearing linear drive axes that allow wear-free operation and quick and accurate measurements. When paired with a special "Automation Manager" software interface, measurement series for testing GD&T and roughness parameters can also be automated.

This automation interface also offers applications ranging from digital measurement planning, extended order management or connection to QM and ERP systems. A new possibility is to combine the µCMM as a "Pick & Place" solution with a collaborative robotic arm, enabling automatic loading, measuring and sorting into OK and not OK parts within a measuring process.

This extension would operate through interactions between an administrator, who pre-defines measurement series (teach-in), a robot used for the manipulation and assembly of components, and the sensor for optical 3D measurement. The teach-in of measurement series occurs over three steps and needs no prior knowledge of programming. The robot would then take over the loading of the pallet containing the components yet to be measured, the positioning on the measuring system, and the further sorting in the OK not OK pallets.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Bruker Alicona.

For more information on this source, please visit Bruker Alicona.

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