Case Studies: Streamlining CMM Inspection
Wayne Combustion Systems (Fort Wayne, IN) manufactures oil- and gas-fired burners for use in residential and commercial appliances. The company’s products incorporate a variety of parts, including aluminum castings, electrical components and steel sheet metal housings. This broad range of parts provides challenges for the company’s quality department.
Paul Wert, quality manager for Wayne Combustion Systems, wanted to streamline the coordinate measuring machine (CMM) part measurement process. Having the means to make quick and repeatable part measurements would save the company time and money.
Wert wanted to acquire fixturing but understood that the range of part sizes and shapes would require a substantial investment in dedicated fixtures. Dedicated fixtures also would require time to design and manufacture, as well as space for storage.
Modular FixturingWert examined the challenges and found a solution with the modular fixture system from R&R Sales and Engineering (Grand Haven, MI). The R&R fixture uses a precise and durably manufactured plate with a grid of tightly spaced, threaded fixture holes. The plate is engraved with alphanumeric labeling on the X- and Y-axis, so the location of each threaded fixture hole can be easily identified and documented.
In addition to the fixture plate, R&R offers an array of fixture components. These components are assembled to the plate and each other to construct a part fixture. Each component has a laser-etched part number so it can be identified and documented. With the ability to clearly document the fixture design, the fixture can be easily and repeatedly reproduced by different CMM operators or for different production runs.
The modular CMM fixture gives Wert the ability to quickly and easily assemble a fixture to hold each part in the best orientation for complete CMM measurement. The ability to reproduce the fixture quickly and repeatedly with the modular system eliminates the need for multiple, dedicated part fixtures. Wert now is able to use one fixture system to hold a range of parts.
Documenting DesignWert also took advantage of R&R’s FixtureBuilder software to document his fixture designs. FixtureBuilder is a 3-D modeling software integrated with computer-aided design (CAD) software from IronCad (Atlanta). IronCad’s SmartSnap technology simplifies the fixture documenting process.
As the operator clicks and drags the components across the fixture plate, the fixture hole location is identified by the cursor position. When the operator has the component over the chosen fixture hole, he releases the component and it snaps into position. The software allows the operator to import CAD models of parts and can be used with common CAD formats.
After the operator has the fixture assembled, one click of the “build it” button generates a document that displays a bill of material for the fixture, detailed assembly instructions with the fixture hole locations and isometric views of the assembled fixture. In addition to the clearly documented fixture design, the operator now has a 3-D model of the fixture, which can be exported to CMM programming software for creating consistent measurements. FixtureBuilder’s standardization documentation reduces the variability of the setup, while eliminating the need for paper documentation. The fixture document can be saved electronically and called up as needed on a PC.
Secure SolutionWert comments that the R&R fixture proved to be the ideal tool for his CMM measurement needs. His measurement practices are repeatable and easily reproduced. Wert can react quickly to measure new parts and existing parts that have been modified.
“The modular fixturing system allows the sample part to be held securely without worry of movement as it is being measured,” says Wert. “With our former way of measuring with the vise and gage blocks, the part would sometimes move as it was being measured, allowing for inaccurate readings, which then would result in lost time having to re- measure the part.”
With one modular fixture system, Wert saves the money needed to fabricate and store multiple dedicated part fixtures. In addition, compared with Wert’s former method of using the CMM, vise and gage blocks to measure a particular manifold, the company is now saving 14 minutes per every five parts measured. Finally, 3-D modeling and documentation software gives Wert the ability to document fixtures electronically.
R&R Sales and Engineering