The future of metrology is here and now

Metrology has evolved in recent years with the advent of lasers, 3D scanners, and optical technology, all serving to change the way we measure things. Inspection is moving away from the metrology laboratory, such that the measuring room is now being brought to the point of manufacture. The keys to this transition are equipment portability, simplicity, and flexibility.
UK supplier of metrology systems Measurement Solutions considers how the latest technologies are changing manufacturing processes.

Measurement Closer to Manufacturing

As metrology moves closer to the production floor, simplicity and ease of use are mandatory to enable those who manufacture parts to also inspect them. Inspection is no longer a parallel procedure, but rather an integral part of the manufacturing process, with multiple measurements performed at several key locations before completing production.

In order to achieve this, metrology equipment must be intuitive and easy to use. The level of expertise required to operate equipment is decreasing; moreover, we are in a transition period where inspection is still managed by QC teams, experienced in measurement. However, measurement is progressively moving to production teams that may not be completely used to traditional measuring methods, so metrology will rely on flexible, easy-to-use solutions in the future.

3D Scanning – More Data, More Knowledge

One thing is for sure - 3D scanning is gradually replacing traditional methods, for three major reasons ;

  1. Speed of acquisition is much faster, with thousands of measurements compared to single point CMM’s
  2. The density of information produces measurements across the whole part, not just at pre-determined locations
  3. Only a short time is required to characterise a complete part.Scanning devices still improve over those generally available today, which exhibit limitations such as line of sight, measuring arm restrictions, and environmental effects (vibrations). However, new technologies such as the MetraSCAN 3D from Creaform are certainly breaking the mould with game-changing capabilities.

Software and Hardware Integration

Better synergy and standardisation between hardware and software is vital.

Generic software compatible with single devices is giving way to “all-in-one” software, such as Metrolog X4 from Metrologic Group. Capable of operating with all devices from a wide range of manufacturers, this offers more possibilities and provides users with important benefits, especially in terms of training and operational standardisation.

Automation – The Robots Are Coming!

Human intervention during inspection is slowly being replaced by automated robot measurement systems. Since programming robots is not easy, QC teams will prefer to use intuitive “all-in-one” metrology software such as Metrolog X4 i-Robot, capable of programming the complete robot and 3D scanning solution as one entity. In this way, smart measurements as documented in Industry4.0 can completely modify the production process. Based on automated measurements, manufacturing processes will be able to auto-correct, even without human intervention.