Some machines fundamentally change the way society manufactures. The coordinate measuring machine (CMM) did just that by allowing North American manufacturers to automate quality control on the assembly line.
CMM machines became more popular when North American manufacturing faced some severe risks from factories abroad empowered by globalization. Factories in China and other countries had fewer regulations and cheaper labour, and CMM machines helped North American manufacturers remain competitive.
Let’s take a look at some of the four most popular CMM machines.
The Bridge CMM has been one of the mainstays of coordinate metrology since the 1970s, and it’s still one of the most popular CMM machines. Known for being durable, extremely reliable, and producing repeatable results, Bridge CMM technology is extremely cost-effective.
Bridge CMM machines can be used right on the shop floor, especially the hard bearing or roller bearing systems, which often have bearing surfaces located under protected guideways safe from any air contamination.
Gantry CMMs are just like Bridge CMMs, except they scan and measure much larger or heavier parts. Factories that produce parts for machines like airplanes and rockets often need to rely on Gantry CMMs to get precise readouts for extremely large parts.
When a part is anywhere from 1.5-20 metres, a Gantry CMM is the only way to measure it precisely. Gantry CMMs don’t require much maintenance because, like the Bridge CMM, the guideways and drive systems are safely out of reach from dirt and contaminants.
The reference plate is completely separate from the machine structure, and it’s hard to damage the Gantry CMM by misloading parts or by components trapped under a bridge.
The Portable Arm
Portable Arm CMM machines are the most popular worldwide. As their name suggests, they’re highly portable, rugged, cost-effective, and produce very accurate results.
ROMER Portable Arms are incredibly versatile, from the probing-only model to the integrated scanning system. Apart from measuring and scanning complex surfaces, the Portable Arm can also perform reverse engineering and collect thousands of data points per second.
The Portable Arm CMM machine and all components can be moved around in a small car, taken through an airport, or even moved within the factory. It can be used right on the factory floor. It’s an ideal solution for complex dye work, models, sheet metal, and plastic injection moulded components.
Scanning and Digitizing Systems
When a part is too small or delicate to measure or scan with a conventional CMM machine, a scanning and digitizing system is required. These often rely on lasers to scan the part.
No contact is ever made between the CMM machine and the part, which is why it’s so perfect for tiny, fragile parts.
One of the reasons consumers have wide access to exciting, futuristic technology is that there are powerful and innovative machines that help put them together. These four CMM machines have already changed manufacturing, and they should continue to do so well into the future.