CAPPS NC software can be used for reverse engineering, multiple axis probe calibrations and measurement. Source: Applied Automation Technologies Inc.

Applied Automation Technologies Inc. (AAT, Rochester Hills, MI) has been releasing software since 1987-but this year’s CAPPS NC has the potential to create a paradigm shift.

“We do something nobody in the world is doing right now,” says National Sales Manager Larry Russell.

The latest version of this software, CAPPS NC 6.6, was released in the first quarter of this year. It offers on-machine metrology, allowing operators to correct problems before they occur and produce a final inspection report similar to a coordinate measuring machine (CMM). Companies can verify first cuts on their computer numerical control (CNC) machine to reduce setup time and scrap, and save money. It can be used for reverse engineering, multiple (5+) axis probe calibrations and measurement.

Previously customers would machine a part, take it to the CMM, inspect it and continue until a final part was produced, and then go to the CMM for final verification.

The CAPPS NC method saves time-and error, Russell says. “It has been used to ensure that final pass cuts are right to size.”

It can improve advanced alignments, offers a “best fit” solution, 5-axis auto indexing, mold and die applications, and production applications, and allows for improvements in throughput, the entire manufacturing process and quality.

“It is at the beginning of a paradigm shift,” Russell says. “Previously customers could not measure and master on the same machine.”

The software offers a “best fit” solution, 5-axis auto indexing, mold and die applications, and production applications, and allows for improvements in quality. Source: Applied Automation Technologies Inc.

It can be applied to any application that has to do with the third, fourth, fifth axis and higher, including aerospace, defense, automotive, power and wind generation, and medical devices.

The company is getting calls daily from customers asking about upgrading to AAT’s software, Russell says. While some potential customers may wonder how they can measure on the same machine that they machine on, Russell says they usually come around once they understand the process.

Customers also commonly ask how they will know when the machine goes out of tolerance, Russell says. An artifact-a certified known gage-will let operators know when it begins to move out of kinematic tolerance and the part cannot be machined as well as it used to.

This checks against a perfect known artifact to be sure the machine is within tolerance. The frequency depends on the severity of the machining applications and the tolerance of the customer. The software also will predict and provide information for preventative maintenance procedures prior to catastrophic failure. It offers complete statistical process control (SPC) data collection at the machine and automatic part and tool offset options.

Russell cited an application involving 30 machines at a General Motors supplier, each with a probe and AAT’s software. There was an artifact on the machine, and if there was a minor tweak in the machine, the software would pick that up and the customer could then implement some type of machine maintenance.

For example, if a driver thumps the wheel on a curb, the wheels will eventually go out of alignment. Russell says the same thing happens with machines. They will go out of alignment, but an artifact check can monitor if this is happening.

Though the software does offer high precision and improved capabilities, it is not meant to replace the need for a CMM, but to reduce the dependency on a CMM by bringing the metrology closed loop directly into the manufacturing system.

Russell explains that it is not a good fit for exceptionally high volume production applications. Instead, it shines for high precision needs.

“There really isn’t anybody that can do the higher level access calibrations that are required by a probe as a result of probe tip lobbing errors,” Russell says.

One customer had previously been scrapping parts, but once introduced to the CAPPS NC system, these issues disappeared.

“He said, ‘It was the best investment I’ve ever made,’” Russell says. This seems to a typical response, as Russell says customer reaction has been outstanding so far.

The average price for first initial seat, including installation and training is about $15,000 for a 3-axis machine. The price for the second one drops to $8,000, with multiple machine discounts.

“We are at the beginning of the next paradigm shift in manufacturing,” Russell says. “It [currently] lacks acceptance that it will gain in the next year or two.”

The more customers understand, the more they embrace this technology. After you educate people on the issues and challenges that they may face in the process, it takes care of their objections, Russell says.

For more information, contact:
Applied Automation Technologies Inc.
1703 Star Batt Dr.
Rochester Hills, MI 48309
(248) 656-4930
[email protected]


For production applications Capps NC has been used for true in-process checks of the following:

  • Entire Parts - During qualification and program changes or machine changes.

  • Critical Features – Capps NC feeds real-time SPC data to a plant management system.

  • First Cut Features - After tool changes Capps NC verified the first cut feature was correct before allowing the remainder of the program to finish.