Touch-trigger and scanning probe specialist Renishaw announced in February that it is to offer a probe/ controller/software retrofit/upgrade service directly to CMM end users. The company already offers machine tool end users a probe retrofit service. A particular aim is to access the huge Hexagon and Zeiss user base for its 5-axis REVO product, although the service is not focused only on the 5-axis REVO. CMM makers Hexagon and Zeiss do not offer REVO and claim more than half the global CMM market share, it is suggested. Furthermore, future developments of the REVO product line, which are said to take in the capability of measuring surface finish, will also be attractive to this currently excluded CMM user base, suggests Renishaw. UNIQUELY PLACED The company's Marc Saunders, UK general manager, says that Renishaw is "uniquely placed" to offer such a CMM retrofit service, due to both its product line and experience. The company has: leading sensor, encoder, calibration and controller technologies; it is the "only company" with knowledge of all brands of CMM – it operates 60 machines within its own manufacturing organisation; it has already established a retrofit service to machine tool builders – "a multi-million pound business"; it already has experience of CMM retrofits, working with OEMs and within its own factory – "100s of retrofits"; on REVO, in particular, it has applications experience gained by working with early REVO customers – there are now some 50 installations around the world; and Renishaw has experience in the integration and use of 15 metrology packages via I++ DME. However, the missing link in the equation, as far as a single-source solution goes, had been the lack of its own metrology software package. That changed in January this year when Metris and Renishaw announced an agreement under which Renishaw has licensed the source code of the Metris Camio CMM software. In order to support further development, Renishaw also employed a number of Metris software engineers. Metris retains full ownership of the original source code and the Camio brand name, and will continue to develop Camio. During the coming years, Renishaw will develop its software independently, so the two will begin to diverge. Renishaw has named its software package MODUS, and this now sits alongside its probes and UCC CMM controller. Image: Renishaw now has all the necessary elements to support retrofitting from within its own resources With this last element, Mr Saunders says that Renishaw is set to "radically expand the market for retrofit". He puts the current UK market for retrofitted CMMs at around 100/year, with "most of these being touch-trigger probe retrofits". But he underlines that "most CMM OEMs offer a retrofit service as a second-best, if they can't sell a new machine", while, in contrast, Renishaw has set up a professional service dedicated to retrofits: "We are taking it seriously," Mr Saunders underlines. SENSIBLE; ECONOMIC Renishaw says that upgrading/ retrofitting a CMM is a sensible and economical choice, because most CMM structures are not subject to high levels of wear. On the other hand, CMM controls, metrology software and sensors do become outdated or less relevant as measurement needs change, in terms of what requires measuring – a move to form measurement, rather than simple dimensional, perhaps; or in terms of the reporting data required; or the volume of parts that need to be measured. A scanning probe such as REVO offers an answer to the form question, but additionally offers a speed hike, since its inbuilt two axes can capture data at up to 500 mm/sec, although the UCC2 controller will also be required (for touch-trigger probes, there's a UCC-Lite controller). Upgraded reporting is a function of the metrology software, with a more modern package supporting latest sensing technologies, too. As for volume, REVO can tackle this, too, as can automation in partnership with more traditional sensor technology. In support of its service, Renishaw has established the necessary infrastructure, people and processes, taking in: new sales and applications engineers; a dedicated retrofit cell at its Woodchester, Glos, facility; a metrology software team located at Castle Donington, Leics; a comprehensive CMM installation database, taking in parts, for example, with Renishaw building a parts stock; rigorous survey and installation procedures; UCCAssist software to drive consistent commissioning processes; UKAS-accredited machine calibration; phone support and retrofit co-ordination staff; online support, web forum. Other aspects of Renishaw's service take in its Repair By Exchange (RBE) offering for parts such as sensors and, importantly, the CMM controller. And although the company does offer a complete package, with its open UCC CMM controllers, the choice of metrology software is open to the customer. But the controller also offers a future upgrade path that will allow users to benefit from probe developments as they are introduced, such as the REVO-based surface finish development that will appear later this year. And quite clearly, Renishaw will also, with its MODUS software, be able to offer upgrades here to suit new probe functionality. Staying with the controller, Renishaw underlines that it provides a plug-and-play connection, with a panel tailor-made to suit the specific CMM connections with which it must mate. No time-consuming rewiring of the CMM itself is required to accommodate differing controller connections. Indeed, the time saved by avoiding the latter is put at up to two days. UCC controllers also and uniquely, it is further highlighted, have a completely open error map, accessible to any third-party – Renishaw does not lock users in to its calibration service is the message. Finally, the completed machine is calibrated according to ISO 10360-2 and a full set of electronic documentation left with the customer. Thereafter, a complete set of support services are offered. These take in: software maintenance, calibration visit; preventative maintenance; emergency support visits; out-of-hours support; and top-up software training. Box item MODUS metrology software Key features include CAD-driven offline programming with full motion simulation and collision detection, including 5-axis moves; native DMIS support; certified mathematical algorithms; powerful text and graphical reporting; and flexible output of results data. Renishaw's UCC2 universal CMM controller is supported via the I++ DME interface. In recognition of the fact that the majority of users use only a subset of the user interface, both the layout and the content can be tailored to suit individual users. Toolbars are fully configurable to ensure only the buttons required are shown and that they are positioned exactly where required. In addition to the neutral formats of IGES, STEP, Parasolid and VDAFS, MODUS features high quality integration with CATIA (V5 and V4), Siemens NX (previously Unigraphics), Pro/E and Solidworks CAD/CAM solutions. The software also includes healing and simplification technology to optimise CAD models. Users can select feature geometries and nominal dimensions from one or more imported CAD models, and compare measured data to CAD nominals. Product Manufacturing Information (PMI) may also be accessed from CATIA V5, Pro/E and NX models, enabling the use of embedded dimensional and tolerance information, which is accessed using the MODUS planning solution module. Feature labels are maintained throughout the workflow, from CAD to inspection report. Article first published in Machinery April 2009