Editorial Feature

Why is 3D Optical Metrology Important in the Automotive Industry?

Advanced automotive industry workflows demand high accuracy, traceability, and reproducibility. As a result, automobile manufacturers are looking for new solutions to ensure optimal component compatibility and performance. One of the solutions that more and more manufacturers are adopting is optical 3D metrology. 

optical metrology, 3d optical metrology

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Metrology in Automotive Manufacturing

The automobile industry relies heavily on quality control to achieve top-tier production. As a result, metrological tools are gaining popularity in the automobile sector since they guarantee precision in manufactured components by providing accurate measurements and consistent data for a tighter, better, and more controlled production line.

These metrological tools include coordinate metrology, vision measuring machines, and 3D optical metrology.

Coordinate Metrology

Coordinate metrology, or coordinate measuring machines, have simplified the measurement process. These tools can verify the measurements of manufactured parts faster than traditional height gauges and micrometers since they are automated.

Coordinate metrology employs probing devices, specialized software, and controllers to analyze the surface of an object for coordinates and features.

Vision Measuring Machines

Most vision measurement devices use software and hardware to identify a machine part and position its video camera to capture optical data for software processors. Programmable software processors examine the image, provide dimensions, validate codes, and analyze orientation to improve assembly accuracy and speed.

Optical 3D Metrology

Optical 3D metrology exploits light as measuring standards or information carriers to measure physical properties such as distances, dimensions, and temperatures.

In contrast to conventional coordinate measuring machines (CMMs), which capture a few hundred 3D points of a component, 3D optical metrology measurements include millions of points. This makes it possible for optical metrology tools to create complete digital twins that can be preserved for later examination or predictive maintenance.

Optical 3D metrology is three to ten times faster than conventional inspection methods. In addition, it uses non-contact scanning technology to object, making them less intrusive than coordinate measuring machines.

Optical 3D Metrological Tools have Transformed Manufacturing Automation

The automobile sector is a pioneer in adopting the most innovative production technology. It adopted optical 3D metrology to improve quality and increase productivity at a lower cost.

Unlike its predecessors, it provides interior and exterior 3D measurements of complicated parts, a significant advancement in automating and accelerating automobile production.

The measured data is shown using various advanced analytical tools, allowing manufacturers to quickly rectify any problems.

Applications of Optical 3D Metrology in the Automotive Industry

Optical 3D Measurements Replace Traditional Systems in Fatigue and Crash Testing

Instead of traditional tools like accelerometers, strain gauges, and extensometers, the automobile industry is increasingly employing optical 3D metrology devices to accelerate design and development. These non-contact devices are used in various tests, including impact, crash, wind tunnel, climatic chamber, and fatigue testing.

The systems' complete and simple integration into existing test facilities and test stands is particularly significant for international car manufacturers such as Audi, Volkswagen, Porsche, and BMW.

3D Measurement on Shock Absorber Pistons

When manufacturing pistons for car shock absorbers, surface and shape parameters must be precise. However, it is difficult for traditional tactile measuring devices to achieve the required reproducibility because of the discontinuous form and the small height of the piston's surface.

In contrast, white-light interferometry as an optical 3D metrology method allows rapid and highly repeatable 3D data of the complete surface from all angles within seconds with high reproducibility.

Flexible and Modular 3D Testing Solutions

The automobile industry uses optical 3D metrology instruments to speed up the design and simulation processes.

Analysis of safety concerns, part lifetimes, creep, and aging processes are feasible by examining material characteristics and component behavior. As a result, 3D optical metrology detects abnormal behavior in components, such as irritating sounds, vibrations, and complicated motions, and aids in root cause investigation.

The resulting measurements provide useful information for making rapid iterations on a product's design and development.

Metal Forming

Optical 3D measurement systems are employed in bending, stamping, drawing, shaping, and pressing to ensure constant quality assurance. They aid in the simulation and optimization of component and tool design. In addition, they accelerate first-article inspection and tool testing and provide effective assembly analysis and production management.

Future of Optical 3D Metrology

The automobile industry's widespread adoption of optical 3D meteorology has substantially enabled longer car lifespans. This increase is the result of automobile manufacturers being able to focus more precisely on the production of high-quality components for their vehicles.

Automobile manufacturers increasingly demand accurate measurements of complicated components and parts, and non-contact optical 3D metrology is the only feasible solution in terms of precision and cost-effectiveness.

Optical 3D metrology tools have enhanced the automobile industry's ability to mass-produce parts with high accuracy and uniformity levels. However, future metrology technology has to be more advanced and automated to keep up with the ever-increasing need for high-quality standards in a shorter time.

More from AZoM: The Current State of the Global Automotive Manufacturing Market

References and Further Reading

Catalucci, S., Thompson, A., Piano, S., Branson, D. T., & Leach, R. (2022). Optical metrology for digital manufacturing: a review. The International Journal of Advanced Manufacturing Technology, 1-20. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00170-022-09084-5

GOM. (2022). 3D Technologies for Research and Development in Car Production. [Online]. GOM. Available at: https://www.gom.com/en/solutions/automotive/development-and-prototyping 

GOM. (2022). Automotive Testing: Optical 3D Metrology improves Safety and Comfort. [Online]. GOM. Available at: https://www.gom.com/fileadmin/user_upload/industries/automotive-testing_EN.pdf 

Metrology Parts. (2022). An Equipment Guide TO Metrology. [Online]. Available at: https://www.metrologyparts.com/an-equipment-guide-to-metrology/ 

Polytec. (2022). 3D Measurement on Shock Absorber Pistons. [Online]. Polytec. Available at: https://www.polytec.com/fileadmin/website/surface-metrology/pdf/om-3D-topography-shock-absorber-piston-en-52054.pdf 

Shimizu, Y., Chen, L. C., Kim, D. W., Chen, X., Li, X., & Matsukuma, H. (2021). An insight into optical metrology in manufacturing. Measurement Science and Technology, 32(4), 042003. https://doi.org/10.1088/1361-6501/abc578

Smith, M. (2020). The Importance of Metrology and QC for Auto Manufacturing. [Online]. Engineering360. Available at: https://insights.globalspec.com/article/15350/the-importance-of-metrology-and-qc-for-auto-manufacturing 

Toro, F. G., & Lehmann, H. (2021). Brief overview of the future of metrology. Measurement: Sensors, 18, 100306. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.measen.2021.10030

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the author expressed in their private capacity and do not necessarily represent the views of AZoM.com Limited T/A AZoNetwork the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the Terms and conditions of use of this website.

Owais Ali

Written by

Owais Ali

NEBOSH certified Mechanical Engineer with 3 years of experience as a technical writer and editor. Owais is interested in occupational health and safety, computer hardware, industrial and mobile robotics. During his academic career, Owais worked on several research projects regarding mobile robots, notably the Autonomous Fire Fighting Mobile Robot. The designed mobile robot could navigate, detect and extinguish fire autonomously. Arduino Uno was used as the microcontroller to control the flame sensors' input and output of the flame extinguisher. Apart from his professional life, Owais is an avid book reader and a huge computer technology enthusiast and likes to keep himself updated regarding developments in the computer industry.

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