Case Studies: Supercharged Five-Axis Inspection
Turbocam International (Barrington, NH) provides five-axis machining for the aerospace, automotive and industrial markets. Many of the complex, close-tolerance, multi-dimensional components it produces are machined from the solid and require sophisticated and complete inspection to ensure accuracy.
In the past this had been a tedious and painstaking process, even with the advent of the coordinate measuring machine (CMM). However, in recent years scanning probe technology has greatly improved inspection time and helped manufacturers like Turbocam to better integrate CMM programming with mill-tool-path programming. Scanning technology, too, has made great strides, and the Renishaw (Hoffman Estates, IL) Revo is helping to decrease inspection time once more.
“Because of the complex shapes of the products we manufacture, we were an early user of scanning technology,” says Dave Romain, Turbocam quality assurance manager. “For three years we had been using another CMM with a fixed probe, which required quite a bit of program writing time for all the different types of five-axis machined parts we are producing.”
In addition, Turbocam was not able to integrate the code from the past CMM software with its computer-aided design (CAD) programs, which was preventing it from making fast program changes. In an effort to bring in new CMM technology that would better suit its five-axis machining applications, Turbocam contacted Xspect Solutions (Wixom, MI) to look at some new Wenzel CMM equipment, discuss OpenDMIS software and compare Wenzel CMM scanning capabilities with the CMM it was using at the time.
“At our visit we saw a Renishaw Revo scanning probe system in action and were immediately sold on its capabilities,” says Romain. “Unlike conventional scanning methods, which rely on speeding up the motion of the CMM in order to scan quickly, the Revo uses synchronized motion to minimize the dynamic errors of CMM motion at ultra-high scanning speeds.”
An internal laser system measures the exact position of the probe tip within the probe body down a hollow stylus to a reflector at the stylus tip. Unlike conventional styli that need to be very stiff, the new hollow stylus is designed to bend, thereby deflecting the return path of the laser beam, which is monitored by a position sensing detector mounted in the probe body.
Turbocam has found that up to 500 millimeters per second is possible without accuracy penalties, and it allows the company the use of long styli. As a result of the first visit, Turbocam purchased a new Wenzel 8.10.7 CMM equipped with the Revo probe system and has standardized on OpenDMIS software, which allows Turbocam to easily integrate its CAD programs. Eighteen months later Turbcam purchased a second Wenzel CMM, also with a Revo probe system. This machine was a Wenzel 10.12.8, a little larger machine, and because Xspect Solutions has a rebuild and remanufacturing division, it took Turbocam’s old CMM in on trade. Subsequently, Turbocam purchased one of Wenzel’s X-Orbit 5.7.5 CMMs to perform all nonscanning CMM work.
“In total, we now have three manual and three direct computer control (DCC) CMMs in the department, where we run a two-shift operation,” says Romain. “We have standardized on OpenDMIS software for all our CMMs and Xspect Solutions has now trained 13 of our CMM technicians. Our ultimate goal of significantly reducing the time required to write inspection programs has been achieved. We are now looking at a new level of improvement by analyzing ‘families of parts’ which we believe we can associate with our customer’s design processes to reduce the manufacturing time even more.”
Xspect Solutions Inc.