Gaging system alternative, inspection of high-volume manufactured parts
Renishaw’s Equator gaging system cuts purchase, maintenance, fixture costs; can be programmed for multiple parts, re-programmed in minutes for design changes.
The Equator gaging system is an alternative to traditional dedicated gaging; it marks the launch of Renishaw's first gaging product line. The patented design is capable of high-speed comparative gaging for inspection of high-volume manufactured parts. Based on an easily scaleable and adaptable "parallel kinematic" structure, Equator's patented principle allows high speed scanning and rapid moves between features, while retaining stiffness that delivers impressive point to point repeatability, critical for accurate gaging.
Installation of an Equator is reportedly possible in minutes, and an operator can switch between gaging of different parts in seconds. Re-configuration of the gaging system to accommodate part design changes, or to measure new parts, is possible in a fraction of the time needed for conventional custom gaging, using industry standard DMIS programming.
Equator systems are available with two levels of software, a programmable version for production engineers to create DMIS programs and, at a lower price, a shop floor system which allows those programs to be executed but prevents operators from making modifications. Both software levels include easy-to-use MODUS Organizer operator front-end software. In the programmable version, MODUS Equator programming software allows engineers to rapidly create gaging routines for any part – simple or complex, prismatic or free-form. MODUS Equator features the ability to easily program scanning measurements and touch points, using the industry-standard Renishaw SP25 compact scanning probe. Scanning allows thousands of data points to be taken to define a feature for true form analysis.
By taking the dongle provided with the programmable system and plugging it into a shop floor system, full programming functionality is activated on that shop floor system, ideal for engineers to adjust programs but also retain control.
Equator's gaging technology is based on the traditional comparison of production parts to a reference master part. Re-mastering is as swift as measuring a production part and allegedly compensates for any change in thermal conditions on the shop floor. Equator can be used in factories with wide temperature variation – simply re-master and the system is "re-zeroed," ready for repeatable comparison to the master.
Master parts do not need to be custom parts like a traditional gage; a production part measured on a co-ordinate measuring machine (CMM) can establish feature variation from CAD or drawing nominals. The results from any CMM, using any CMM programming software, can be configured to be used directly with the Equator software. Effectively, the calibrated absolute accuracy of the CMM (often located in a temperature controlled room to ensure accuracy) can be "extended" onto the shop floor to provide calibrated traceability to Equator measurements. With the calibration file loaded into the Equator software, measurements made in the Equator system can be referred back to the CAD or drawing nominals. This allows true process control with SPC packages.
The Equator controller, included with every Equator system, is a dedicated control system that provides a secure environment for running the Equator gaging system software. It is similar to machine tool control systems, with the added ability to run Equator-specific Windows applications. Designed for Equator, it incorporates all the necessary electronic boards and software in one package. The user can create and execute DMIS measurement programs, change measurement settings and transfer data or programs.
Equator can be integrated into automated cells, using the optional I/O interface to connect it to a robot, or by outputting the gage results to an SPC package. Some SPC packages also offer the ability to connect to certain modern machine tool controls to update offset values, for true automated process control.
- Edited by Gust Gianos, Control Engineering, www.controleng.com