Progressive Tool & Manufacturing Inc. (Greensboro, NC), a precision tool maker, is finding that customers are increasingly demanding shorter lead times. But at the same time, those customers are not willing to sacrifice quality. "More and more, our customers for a wide range of components are becoming concerned with quality, rather than price," says Richard Thompson, a partner at the firm.

For those reasons, Progressive Tool has lately been placing a premium on maximum flexibility, as well as accuracy, in the arsenal of measuring instruments that it maintains.

Progressive Tool found both of those attributes recently in a 12-inch Sylvac Z-Cal II height gage supplied by Fred V. Fowler Co. Inc. (Newton, MA). Finding a height gage that "actually lives up to the specifications promised by equipment manufacturers was important to us," says Thompson. The Z-Cal provides accuracy within 0.00024 inch. Further, its motorized measuring system provides a high degree of flexibility.

Previously, Progressive Tool had used gage pins, dial bore gages, test indicators and gage blocks for a variety of tasks. These required separate measurements that were time-consuming to perform. It was also time-consuming to transfer many readings to a height gage. "On the Z-Cal, we can do it all together," Thompson observes.

In its day-to-day business, Progressive Tool produces automotive gages, replacement part tooling for stamping and custom automated assemblies, among other products, and thus requires a great deal of variety in measuring instruments. Besides a range of hand tools and gages, the company's metrology equipment also includes more sophisticated tools such as a coordinate measuring machine (CMM).

Thompson notes that the CMM can do more than any height gage. But for many tasks, the Z-Cal height gage is actually a more desirable option, he says. The CMM "would be fine if we had a dedicated QC inspector who used it all the time," says Thompson. But for the occasional user, it is not user friendly, he adds.

Because Progressive Tool is a small shop, many different people need to make different measurements, which makes the versatility of the Z-Cal particularly important, Thompson says. "The Z-Cal can do at least 80% of the work a CMM can do. It takes 10 minutes to learn all of its single-axis functions."

Progressive Tool uses the CMM only for multi-axis measurements, Thompson says, and now has three Z-Cal height gages, which it uses in its electrical discharge machining and grinding rooms on the shop floor.

Fred V. Fowler Co. Inc.
(800) 788-2353 Reply 11