Quality Magazine

Quality Innovations: New Arm is ‘Infinitely Perceptive'

December 1, 2004
Portable coordinate measuring machine capabilities continue to grow.

The seven-axis Infinite arm was made specifically for laser-scanning inspection and reverse engineering. The arm has a combination hard probe and laser-scanning probe assembly with infinite rotation. Photo: Romer CimCore
Portable coordinate measuring machines (CMMs) are among the continually evolving tools in the test, measurement and inspection market. Arms have become longer, accuracies are tighter and capabilities have increased.

When one portable CMM manufacturer introduces an innovative product to the market, other companies respond in kind. The latest salvo is from Romer CimCore, a Hexagon Metrology Co. (Farmington Hills, MI), and they recently released the Infinite portable CMM, available with seven axes of movement.

"The seven-axis Infinite arm was designed specifically for laser-scanning inspection and reverse engineering," says Thomas Moran, vice president of sales and marketing. "This arm has a new combination hard probe and laser-scanning probe assembly with patented infinite rotation. It accommodates laser camera manufactured by Perceptron, 3D Scanners, LDI and Kreon."

In addition, the handle of the combination probe assembly is removable to allow operation in tight confines, Moran says. All wiring necessary for third-party laser scanners is internal to the arm.

According to Moran, the Infinite CMM is the most accurate articulating arm that his company has produced. It features infinite rotation, quick-change probes with automatic probe recognition, integrated wireless (WiFi) communication and a lithium-ion battery to improve portability.

"Battery power enables inspection and measuring in the shop or on-site when AC power is unavailable or inconvenient," says Moran. "Battery operation, combined with WiFi connectivity to a laptop computer means there are no cables connected to the portable arm. This makes working in confined spaces, such as fuselages, weldments and cabins, far more productive."

The Infinite series arms will be available in both a six- and seven-axis configuration with measuring ranges of 4 (available in 6 axes only), 6, 8, 9, 10 and 12 feet.

According to Moran, the arm also features:

• low-profile, Zero-G counterbalance.

• USB-connected video camera.

• Heidenhain encoders, manufactured to the company's specifications, for "wide-track" bearing support.

In addition, only Romer provides a NIST-traceable calibrated length standard to allow operator verification and documentation of system performance for ISO or customer requirements.

A seven-axis Infinite arm is also available for real-time laser scanning inspection or reverse engineering. This arm features a combination hard probe and laser-scanning probe.



The handle of the combination probe assembly is removable to allow operation in tight confines. All wiring necessary for third-party lasers is internal to the arm. The ScanWorks Contour Probe allows manufacturers to do feature-based measurements. Photos: Romer CimCore and Perceptron Inc.

Cloud-to-CAD

The laser-scanning probe is made by Perceptron (Plymouth, MI). The laser-scanning inspection system, called the ScanWorks Contour Probe, allows manufacturers to do real-time computer-aided design (CAD) comparisons of a part's surface and geometric features using point clouds generated by data collected by the laser system.

The laser-scanning system is directly integrated in Romer CimCore's new Infinite seven-axis Series arm. "The scanning system is portable; it can be moved from point A to point B very quickly, with the ability to scan up, down, around and inside objects," says Tom Thompson, North American business development manager, Technology Components Group of Perceptron. No complicated set up, no manual targets to affix to the part for coordinate referencing, no turntables required and no line of sight restrictions. You can literally turn it on and start scanning."

Perceptron has much of its experience in automotive and sheet metal plants from its 25 years experience with in-line, process control systems. The company, says Thompson, produces more than 5,000 sensors a year, uses an open-architecture platform and allows other companies, including Delcam, Innovmetric, Raindrop, Brown & Sharpe, and Zeiss to embed Perceptron scanning technology in theirs.

The system, as used on the Romer CimCore arm, uses Delcam PowerInspect software with embedded Perceptron ScanWorks ToolKit algorithms for automatic feature and dimensional data extraction.

"Delcam was the first to integrate our scanning technology in their software, and that allows manufacturers to do real-time inspection with point cloud data," says Thompson. "It allows the manufacturer to scan a feature and get that feature callout. Historically, scanners were used simply for reverse engineering, which we can do, but we bring to the scanning industry the ability to do feature-based measurements."



Benefits

• The Infinite series arms are available in six and seven axes configuration with measuring ranges of 4 (6 axis only), 6, 8, 9, 10 and 12 feet.

• The arm features infinite rotation, quick-change probes with automatic probe recognition, integrated wireless (WiFi) communication and a lithium-ion battery to improve portability.

• The laser Contour Probe gathers point clouds of data and allows comparison of this data to a CAD file.