Quality Magazine

45 Years of Quality

October 1, 2006

quality assurance believes:

...nothing is more important to America than the quality of its products;

...a sound quality assurance program increases efficiency, decreases costs, meets competition, increases sales and reduces the profit squeeze;

...quality is management's concern, with which it must live, think and sleep. From management it must permeate every corner of the plant;

...quality assurance people are the fastest growing group of professionals in industry-and none in industry is more important.

-W. F. Schleicher, publisher and editor, quality assurance, October 1962

It's been 45 years since those words graced the pages of the first issue of Quality Magazine, known back then as quality assurance, without capital letters. While we've gone through a variety of name changes throughout the years-starting with quality assurance to Quality Management & Engineering in 1971 and finally Quality in 1975-our dedication and commitment has always been to you, the reader.

We have always provided you with relevant information to help you do your job, and we will continue to bring you the latest information on measurement, test and inspection, and software and apply those technologies to real-world applications.

The next few pages will showcase Quality Magazine over the years, as well as provide insight as to how quality has changed companies, products and processes throughout the years.

Thank you for joining in our celebration.


The circa 1960s black production gage (above) only had accuracy of 1/1,000 of an inch. The black gage (below) has a digital indicator and accuracy to 1/10 millions of an inch. Source: Comtorgage Corp.

Comtorgage Corp.

Since 1928, manufacturers have used Comtorgage Corp.'s (Slatersville, RI) products to fulfill their production gage requirements. In the past 45 years, the company has gone through several important changes. Moving to a more modern facility, with larger property to grow, is one of the most significant. "We have expanded the plant to more than double its size to allow for additional equipment, and modern climate-

controlled calibration and assembly areas," says Kim Gradolf, regional sales manager. Also, computer-based machinery and precision-cutting tools have made it possible for Comtorgage to produce more accurate parts at a much higher rate of production. "Inspection of machined or formed parts has expanded to include characteristics previously checked using go/no-go gages or functional inspections only," Gradolf says. Comtorgage has implemented standardized quality programs such as zero defects, statistical process control and more recently, ISO and Six Sigma. "Forty-five years ago, Comtorgage offered a variable gage with a resolution of one ten thousandth of an inch," Gradolf says. "Today, with the help of microprocessors and high-precision manufacturing, we can offer accurate, repeatable gages for the lab and shop floor that resolve to 10 millionths of an inch."

These examples demonstrates metrology tools' evolution. Source: Dorsey Metrology International.

Dorsey Metrology International

Over the past 45 years Dorsey Metrology International (Poughkeepsie, NY)-formerly the Inspection Instruments Div. of Dorsey Gage Co.-has developed gages with greater versatility, rigidity, repeatability and accuracy. This effort is because of more rigorous quality industry standards, and repeatability and reproducibility (R&R) studies. Dial snap gages used to check cylindrical diameters. "Initial Dorsey dial snap gages with lever motion transfer were subject to some accuracy variations because of movement error-and-shock deformation," says Ted Luty, CEO. "Modern snap gages have a variety of frame designs and motions, alternate anvil configurations to suit specific applications, rugged frames of cast-aluminum jig plate and castings, heat-insulating impact resistant handles, readout options of dial or digital indicator readings as fine as 0.00002 inch or 0.001 millimeter, and shock-absorbing backstops that locate the maximum part diameter." In the early 1900s, the Hamilton Watch Co. began making dial indicators a natural extension of their watch-making skills. "About the same time Quality Magazine began publishing, Hamilton was selling the Kwick-Chek (rectangular shape) dial indicators. Since 1974, we have manufactured and distributed this shockproof indicator movement in ANSI/AGD sizes 2, 3 and 4 in graduations as fine as 0.00002 inch/0.001 millimeter."

This modern, portable ultrasonic flaw detector weighs less than 4 kilograms, is battery-powered and presents inspection data in full-color sector B-scan or A-scan format for instant defect sizing. Source: GE Inspection Technologies.

GE Inspection Technologies

Within the last 45 years GE Inspection Technologies (Lewistown, PA) has acquired businesses and combined them into one comprehensive organization offering nondestructive testing (NDT) solutions in ultrasonics, eddy current, radiography and remote visual inspection. Over the past 45 years, "The importance of quality in all of today's industries has probably been a result of quality standards and needs transferring between sectors," says Jeff Anderson, vice president of product management. "The result is that NDT is now a discipline producing more accurate results, faster and with greater reliability than it was 45 years ago. These results also are now easier to assess and interpret, and they can be stored and recorded for further off-line analysis and for traceability purposes." Early flaw detectors used simple ultrasonic angles and compression probes to provide volumetric inspection. Inspections produced a simple A-scan, giving a rough indication of a flaw's presence. "Today's portable flaw detectors offer phased-array capability within a conventional, portable ultrasonic flaw detector to reduce inspection times and improve probability of detection," Anderson says. "When used in phased array mode, where one probe replicates the function of many conventional probes, today's instruments offer up to 128 individual channels and the operator can electronically multiplex a single, multielement probe to achieve precise control over the angle of inspection, the amplitude and the focus depth of each individual ultrasonic beam."

Today's CMMs combine mechanical innovations, motion controllers, temperature compensation models and metrology software. (Source: Hexagon Metrology Inc.)

Hexagon Metrology Inc.

By 1962, the Brown & Sharpe Manufacturing Co. (Fond du Lac, WI) already had more than 100 years of history behind it. Soon after Quality Magazine produced its inaugural issue, Brown & Sharpe moved into a new factory in North Kingstown, RI, and transformed from a broadly focused U.S.-based manufacturer to a dimensional metrology-focused international company. Today, Brown & Sharpe is no longer an independent company, but rather is a premium brand of Hexagon Metrology Inc., the U.S.-based arm of Hexagon. "With today's CAD-based programmable dimensional metrology systems, we are able to inspect more features, more accurately and faster than we ever could before-this is due in large part to the application of computers to automate the inspection, collection and analysis process," says Bill Fetter, director of marketing and commercial services. "Forty-five years ago we were using blueprints and hand gages. Today, we are using purpose-built coordinate measuring machine (CMM) robots." Most of Hexagon Metrology's main lines of products, such as CMMs, laser tracker and articulated arms, either did not exist 45 years ago or were in their absolute infancy. "The first predecessors of the modern CMM were introduced close to the time of Quality's debut," Fetter says. "So we have seen on the pages of Quality Magazine the birth and evolution of the coordinate metrology industry segment over the past 45 years."

These vernier calipers were manufactured 50 years ago. Source: The L.S. Starrett Co.

The L. S. Starrett Co.

Founded in 1880, The L. S. Starrett Co. manufactures more than 5,000 variations of precision tools, gages and measuring instruments. Over the past 45 years, "Our major change has been the international expansion of our company through the extension of our product line through research and development and acquisitions," says Douglas A. Starrett, president and CEO. "Forty-five years ago most of our competition was U.S.- based companies and a few from Europe. Today we are competing with an array of international competitors." In this time, Starrett has seen the quality industry improve in manufacturing and machine tool technology drive the demand for tighter tolerances requiring higher precision measurement instruments and tools. "There has not been one truly revolutionary change in measurement, but it has been an evolution driven by technological advances," Starrett says. "The standardization of quality control systems and the growth of the quality control industry has driven more awareness of the need for high-quality measurement tools for the efficient manufacture of critical components."

While vernier calipers are still used today, electronic calipers are now available in many new styles and configurations, like these designed for harsh manufacturing environments. Source: The L.S. Starrett Co.
One major sea change at Starrett in the past 20 years has been the introduction of electronic measuring tools. "As technology has driven the size and cost of electronics down, it has made application of electronics to measuring equipment more applicable to a wider range of products," Starrett says. "We have added wireless transmission of measurement data for use with electronic measuring tools. It is interesting to note that there are many more tools that remain fairly unchanged from a half century ago, such as the combination square, gage blocks and many fixed gages."

Mahr Federal's Micro-Dimensionair portable air gage incorporates a Micro-Maxum digital indicator and an interchangeable handle to provide readouts at the measurement site. Source: Mahr Federal Inc.

Mahr Federal Inc.

Mahr Federal Inc. (Providence, RI) has been providing dimensional measurement solutions for more than 85 years. While a lot has changed in the past 45 years, a lot of the products have physically stayed the same. "A caliper is a caliper and a snap gage is a snap gage," says George Schuetz, director of precision gages. But while the basic instrument may not have changed, items around the gage have, as products move from mechanical to digital. Now operators can collect and analyze data, and then transfer it to a PC. Through the many cycles in the quality world-the electronic revolution, the emergence of statistical process control and coordinate measuring machines-Schuetz says it all comes down to handling the part correctly. With tolerances getting tighter and tighter, quality professionals must pay attention to the whole measuring process and document everything. "People are more accountable for what they do now," Schuetz says. "The days of people doing calibration in their garage or their basement are just about done now."

The original Newage single-range Model SR hardness tester used a fluid in a circular capillary tube to indicate the hardness value. The chrome coating belies the age of the unit, which can be 50 years. Newage says they occasionally turn up on eBay although they are not able to be repaired because of a lack of parts for the capillary tube and related seals. Source: Newage

Newage Testing Instruments

Since 1954, Newage-then known as NewAge Industries Inc.-has been making and selling hardness testers. Newage Testing Instruments Inc. began in 2000, out of NewAge Industries' testing instruments division. Just as it did in 1954, the company still manufactures and distributes hardness testers, including the fifth generation of its original tester-the portable "Press-and-Read" SR and MR Series. The company also provides service and calibration to companies in the United States and abroad.

The modern Newage Testing Instruments digital counterpart to the old model SR, called the Rockmate, uses the same test process as a Rockwell-scale bench tester with preloads and full loads-all applied in one smooth press on the top of the unit-but at a much lighter load range than the Rockwell method. Source: Newage
Though the products have changed over the years, they still work quickly in a real-world environment. Like the products, the quality environment also has changed, with more statistical process control implementation, ISO certifications and more concerns with quality in general.

Nikon has offered measuring microscopes since Quality Magazine has been in existence, including this 1960 model. Source: Nikon

Nikon Instruments Inc.

Nikon Instruments Inc. (Melville, NY) imports, sells, maintains and services microscopes, measuring instruments and inspection equipment. As technology revolutionized the way the world worked, Nikon changed as well. "Nikon was able to connect our camera technology to optical inspection and measurement technology. We've gone from that analog film world to that digital world," says Mike Metzger, general manager of Industrial Microscopy & Metrology. Forty-five years ago, eyes or film were all that was available to acquire an image, but those days are history.

The 2006 measuring microscope from Nikon shows the connection to computers for 2006 models. Source: Nikon
"Nikon is able to gather those images electronically, store them or archive them, and send them instantly around the world. It's a digital revolution," Metzger says. This revolution has allowed Nikon to move information around the world, making for better and more accurate communication. In 1945, the quality was visible at operator's eyes and the manufacturing line. "Now it's a global world," Metzger says, "the operator may be in Shanghai and the customer may be in San Francisco."

One of OGP's latest machines, the SmartScope Quest 650, includes multisensor functionality, high accuracy and several innovations for five-axis metrology. Source: OGP

Optical Gaging Products Inc.

Sixty-one years ago, Optical Gaging Products Inc. (OGP, Rochester, NY) began designing and manufacturing products for dimensional inspection. Throughout the past 45 years, the company has been busy producing precision noncontact and multisensor coordinate measuring systems used for dimensional inspection. When Quality Magazine began during the 1960s, OGP sold the Ex-Cell-O Model XLO-815, one of the company's most popular contour projectors and introduced practical high intensity arc lamps, which allowed for optical inspection at high magnifications. In 1967, the company introduced the AG Model 875, a video inspection system. The 1970s brought the OQ-30A side screen contour projector, the mercury arc surface illuminator and the OQ-20 side table optical comparator. The 1980s and 90s led to products such as the Vidicom Qualifier 863, Q-See video system, Top Bench and Smart Scope MVP. The company provides service for its customers in the United States and abroad. Today OGP has several facilities in the United States, as well as locations in Singapore, Germany, Hungary and China.

The company still incorporates some of the same design principles from when the Pratt & Whitney Measuring Machines were manufactured. Source: Pratt & Whitney

Pratt & Whitney

Pratt & Whitney, founded by Francis Pratt and Amos Whitney in 1860, supplies high-accuracy measuring instruments. Since its inception, it has developed into a high technology company with more than 11,000 gaging instruments installed worldwide. These instruments measure the progress of many precision mechanical industries, such as aerospace, automotive, aviation, machine tool, military/defense, power generation, medical, telecommunications and calibration service companies. Over the past 45 years, the company has incorporated many new technologies within its instruments such as laser interferometers, air-bearings and computer systems.

The Labmaster Universal can accurately measure to 50 nanometers with little operator influence, which was not possible years ago. Source: Pratt & Whitney
With these new technologies, their current instruments, such as the P&W Labmaster Universal, can accurately measure to 50 nanometers with very little operator influence, which was not possible years ago. Today, demand to measure tighter tolerances using more automation is growing so the design engineers are always trying to stay ahead of the curve. One way the company achieves this is to actually look back on technology. The company still incorporates some of the same design principles from when the Pratt & Whitney measuring machines were manufactured. These metrology practices include using low coefficient materials and hand-lapping flat surfaces. Old and new technologies converge to produce an end product.