Manufacturing has never been an easy industry: the upfront costs and the overhead expenses means taking financial risks before a single product has been produced. Plus, there’s the difficulty of sourcing material and the costs of labour to contend with. It’s in this context that creating an efficient production line is essential.
Coordinate measuring machines, commonly known as CMMs, have played a huge role in automating quality control on production lines. With stunning precision, these machines are able to measure the physical geometrical characteristics of an object, operated either by a manual operator or by a computer.
A probe attached to the third axis of the machine is able to detect whether or not there are any flaws in the parts or products being scanned by comparing coordinate data being gathered to the part’s blueprint information.
Automation has helped the North American manufacturing sector after decades of decline, and by augmenting the automation process CMM machines have played a large role. But let’s take a look at the software inside these machines, to see how to use it and it what it can do.
What Kind of Software to Get?
There isn’t one answer to this question: it all depends on what you’re trying to do. You should check this out and talk to highly-trained metrology specialists to learn more before you make a decision. Specialized software may be necessary, depending on your needs.
Can Anybody Operate Metrology Software?
Yes, but not right away. Comprehensive training usually takes between one to two weeks, and is held in a classroom. Those intending to become a CMM machine programmer should already possess: basic math skills, fundamental knowledge of measurement, experience within the manufacturing environment in which they’ll be working, practical knowledge and understanding of Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing, a basic understanding of Computer Aided Design and, finally, basic desktop computer skills.
The operator must also understand the validity of the results the machine is giving. This may sound complex, but the software empowers people who have no mathematical knowledge or specialized metrology skills to perform a wide range of measurement tasks they’d otherwise never be able to complete.
Point Cloud Inspection Solution: PolyWorks
Futurists have speculated for years about the machines in factories essentially running themselves — in a sense, that is already happening. In one example, new programs like PolyWorks Inspector enables CMMs to use metrological data to analyze the smallest drops in quality that might be the result of machine wear and tear.
This is important on its own, but the PolyWorks Inspector program goes a step further, communicating this information to other parts across the production line automatically. Sometimes the futurists come up with far-fetched ideas, but with machines telling other machines that there’s a problem and then adjusting for it on their own, maybe they were onto something.
The machines themselves and the software inside are both powerful technologies in their own right that are extremely useful across industries. Just make sure you speak to accredited metrology experts who guide you to the right equipment and software. Manufacturing has always brought change requiring adaptation that could be difficult, but today’s CMM technology adds ease and efficiencies in contemporary manufacturing.