News | March 24, 2006

Delcam And Renishaw Combine To Offer On-Machine Verification

Source: Delcam PLC

Delcam, developer of the PowerINSPECT inspection software, and Renishaw, a metrology company, have joined forces to offer On-Machine Verification technology to all companies seeking to increase the productivity of their machine tools. The most obvious advantages of this technology are for those companies that do not have existing inspection capabilities. However, it is also beneficial for sub-contractors that need to machine bigger components, such as those used in the aerospace or oil and gas industry, and for toolmakers that produce larger press tools, patterns or moulds.

Most modern machine tools either come with, or can be retrofitted with, probing capabilities to assist in the set-up of the job. With On-Machine Verification, this same equipment can now be used for initial quality checks at little extra cost.

Data for the process can be collected using Renishaw's high accuracy spindle probes, such as the established MP 700 or the soon to be released compact OMP 400. Neither of these probes need to be calibrated in all the vectors in which they are to be used, so reducing the number of points required to measure a given part and, therefore, giving shorter verification cycle times.

PowerINSPECT can use the data both to check surface accuracy or to measure features, such as circles, cylinders, cones, spheres and planes, to a high level of precision. The ability to program complete verification sequences off-line means that there can be minimal interruption of the machining operations.

On-machine verification can give huge time savings by enabling the quality of the component being machined to be monitored at all stages in the manufacturing process. This will allow any errors to be detected earlier, and so corrected more quickly and at lower cost. Similarly, the extent of any damage caused, for example, by a tool breakage, can be assessed accurately and a decision made immediately to determine whether the part can still be completed within tolerance or whether it will have to be scrapped.

On-machine verification will also benefit companies with customers that insist on independent inspection of their work. By carrying out an initial verification on the machine, errors can be detected, and corrected, that might otherwise not be found until after the component had been shipped to the inspector. Companies already having suitable equipment might think that on-machine inspection is an unnecessary operation that can loose machining time. However, if the whole process is considered, there is considerable potential to reduce delivery times. If a part has to be transferred to a dedicated CMM and the inspection shows any errors, the component must be returned to the machine tool and re-clamped in position before being machined again. This is time-consuming for any component but can take many hours for any heavy item, such as a large aerostructure or a press tool for an automotive body panel. In addition, any mistakes during the set-up back onto the machine tool could result in a new series of errors in the component, and so lead to a further cycle of inspection and re-machining.

With On-Machine Verification, the part can be checked before it is moved. Any significant errors can then be detected and corrected before the component is transferred to the CMM for its final inspection. The ability to check that the part is reaching its specifications at the various stages of the manufacturing process will save time, reduce the amount of scrap and increase confidence that time is not being wasted working on components that are already too far out of tolerance.

Dr. Tim Prestidge, Director and General Manager of Renishaw's Machine Tool Products Division, commented, "The close integration of Delcam's PowerINSPECT Software with Renishaw's probe systems provides a robust solution for the wide range of applications that we can see for On-Machine Verification, and is likely to become a major player in the growing list of providers of software for inspection on machine tools. The combination offers powerful technology that will enable companies to increase their overall equipment effectiveness."

"We are extremely pleased to be working together with Renishaw to help companies improve their quality in today's competitive manufacturing environment," added Delcam's PowerINSPECT Product Manager Chris Lawrie. "We are both UK companies that have become recognised internationally as leaders in our respective fields. We also serve many of the same industries, including precision machinists and toolmakers, that have to work to the highest quality standards."