Quality Innovations: Fixture Gages Get Electronic Upgrade

A graphical readout for fixture gages can help approve a part and compute mathematical equations.

One of the leading manufacturers of digital readouts has expanded its product line to include a readout for the fixture gage market that mixes the capabilities of a go/no go hard gage with a microprocessor.

Metronics Inc. (Bedford, NH) has seven product lines, including five families of readouts that are used on measuring instruments such as optical comparators, toolmakers' microscopes and coordinate measuring machines. This new product, the Gage-Chek, is geared for the fixture gaging segment of the industry. "We saw a need in the fixture gaging market," says Metronic's President Bob Green. "Fixture gages are a traditional technology that is proven and reliable. We thought there was an opportunity to provide some innovation to the readouts."

Computing power

Gage-Chek provides up to eight probe inputs and two relay outputs. Compatible inputs include length gages, air gages, LVDT and half-bridge transducers. In addition, a general purpose analog input provides the opportunity to interface to pressure, temperature, illumination or other industrial process sensors. Input channels can be used to obtain numerous measurements such as maximum, minimum and TIR (total indicator runout) for in situ part analysis. Because of its versatility, the Gage-Chek can be used on many applications, Green says. A shop with a variety of fixture gages and sensors often has to use different readouts, but the Gage-Chek can be used throughout the shop, Green says.

The Gage-Chek can perform more than 40 mathematical and trigonometric functions. Up to 16 separate values can be output from formulas, based on single input channels or combinations and comparisons of multiple channels. The Gage-Chek can take various inputs from a fixture and perform simple calculations such as A plus B, A minus B or do a quick average. It can also do more complex functions, Green says, such as measuring a cam shaft. "On a cam shaft measurement, it can measure and locate the high spots of the lobes and their angular position," he says.

Gage-Chek can also be used for statistical process control (SPC). It features an integrated SPC database that allows storage and retrieval of measurement data. Users can check the manufacturing process at each gage and share information locally or globally. "SPC capability is built in the product to help monitor volume measurement," Green says. "It can display X-bar, range and histogram charts and other statistical analysis. The data can also be output to a PC for use in an in-house SPC system."

The Gage-Chek, which runs in eight different languages, is sold through a dealer network. A single-input model runs about $1,075, and an 8-input version is available for $2,350.

Go/no go gaging

The system can also be used as a simple in-process go/no go gage. It features a 6-inch color LCD. Data can be displayed numerically or in an analog format in either dial, vertical or horizontal bars. It gives the user both color cues and audio alerts to help monitor out-of-

tolerance situations.

"With this type of product, the user wants a quick indication if the part is good or bad," Green says. "They can put the part in the fixture and based on the color of the display, get immediate feedback if the part is good, bad or nearing an out of tolerance condition."

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