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Jeff Rowe
Jeff Rowe
Jeffrey Rowe has more than 40 years of experience in all aspects of industrial design, mechanical engineering, and manufacturing. On the publishing side, he has written well over 1,000 articles for CAD, CAM, CAE, and other technical publications, as well as consulting in many capacities in the … More »

Creaform Launches CUBE-R For Automating CMM At-Line Inspection

April 19th, 2018 by Jeff Rowe

Creaform, a provider of accurate portable 3D measurement solutions and engineering services, has launched the CUBE-R, a new generation complete turnkey automated dimensional inspection system. The new optical 3D measuring machine capitalizes on the MetraSCAN 3D-R metrology scanner and combines efficiency and reliability of robotization in an automated industrial measuring cell.

The  CUBE-R extends the  3D digitizing and inspection capabilities of the MetraSCAN 3D for dimensionally measuring parts ranging from 1 m to 3 m with metrology-grade volumetric accuracy on the shop floor. Unlike conventional systems, the CUBE-R provides both speed and volumetric accuracy, and also ensures a significant increase in productivity. The CUBE-R offers a realistic and comprehensive alternative to coordinate measuring machines (CMM) and other robot-mounted, structured-light 3D scanners.

Key features and benefits of the new system include:

  • High productivity – Performs effective inspections on several hundred parts a day (even on dark or reflective parts with complex geometry)
  • Multitasking – Maximizes production cycle and throughput by offering a simultaneous operation of data acquisition and analysis in a continuous and uninterrupted measurement flow
  • Automatic field calibration procedure – No accuracy drift over time and continuous operation
  • Minimum operator training – Easy-to-use and short learning curve to keep up with fast production pace
  • Complete turnkey solution – No integration required, fully enclosed and shop-floor ready
  • Smaller factory footprint – A complete 4.1 m x 4.1 m x 3.1 m turnkey solution with a flexible shop-floor configuration

CUBE-R 3D Scanning CMM

CUBE-R is an efficient comprehensive turnkey system for automated quality control applications. The CUBE-R provides manufacturing companies with the power of optical 3D measurement and industrial automation. This CMM system optimizes the production cycle and throughput resulting in better product quality.

“Quality control managers are looking for integrated solutions that enable the detection of assembly problems earlier in the manufacturing process, all while reducing waste and down time to ensure better productivity and higher product quality,” says Jérôme-Alexandre Lavoie, Product Manager at Creaform. “The CUBE-R was designed with that in mind. It is the latest addition to our  R-Series automated inspection solutions, which also include technology integration for clients looking for customized dimensional measurement solutions.”

Measurement and Inspection

Along with removing the need to inspect parts in a metrology lab, Creaform’s portable 3D measurement technologies enable inspections on the shop floor, without the need for a controlled environment, because all of its solutions can withstand the harshest environments and surrounding vibrations for maximizing the efficiency of the quality control process throughout an entire production run.

When it comes to performing routine testing of process samples there are 4 basic options of measurement and inspection instrumentation, Inline, On-line, At-line and Off-line(laboratory):

In-line equipment are simple measuring devices that are placed directly into a process stream.

Off-line instruments are designed to be in an environmentally controlled location and used by technically trained personal. They offer the greatest versatility of analysis methods but require the most man hours to perform an analysis and input the results ie they have the longest results turn around time. Laboratory instruments are used when there is a large variety of test methods required and the result turn around time is not critical.

At-line measurement equipment sits in the production area and is used by an operator. This is what the CUBE-R system is.

On-line equipment are fully automated systems used to closely monitor factors that are critical to the production process. On-line equipment able to control external devices and can be operated and monitored remotely.

Although they are different, there remains some confusion between inspection and measurement. Some think that inspection is qualitative and measurement is quantitative. I can’t say I totally agree with that because there are  a few different considerations to take into account.
For example, let’s consider simple optics inspection for artifacts. Suppose the parts being inspected come from a manufacturing process that is stable—unchanging, and every part is made exactly the same way. That 20 percent of the parts have artifacts might point to a problem with that manufacturing process. On the other hand, how many people inspect the parts? If there’s one inspector who follows a defined process and inspects every part in the exact same manner, one variable is removed. This means, of course, that if there are two inspectors, you need to find out whether one of them is finding more artifacts than the other. Are they finding them in equal proportions? Does one hold the parts differently (vary the inspection process)? Is one inspection station near an air vent that might be dropping dust particles on parts waiting for inspection? There are numerous variables even in this simple example. Human judgment is a major variable.

This simple inspection may not be measuring anything, but the measurement of the results of this inspection process, over time, can tell a lot about several processes. Obviously, there are several variables to take into account.

Uncertainties such as these lead manufacturers to automated measurement as the solution. An automatic measuring machine should perform consistently, no matter who’s operating it. Assuming it’s capable of measuring the part and distinguishing bad artifacts, an automatic measuring machine can be the arbiter in the inspection process.

It isn’t unusual to use a measuring machine in the inspection process. The key point is that inspection and measurement can be highly operator-dependent if the outcome depends on the skill of the person performing the task. Because one person can perform differently from another person and an individual can perform inconsistently depending on time of day or day of the week, even highly trained personnel can introduce variability into the inspection/measurement process. On the other hand, automatic measurement devices and systems that remove operator subjectivity can be the key to consistent, reliable inspection.

The question, though, is automatic inspection always accurate? In contrast to manual methods, yes, automation provides accurate measurement that is probably an order of magnitude greater.

However, that’s a question I’ll follow-up on and attempt to answer (with the help of several industry experts) in coming weeks.

In the end, Creaform’s CUBE-R provides an off-the-shelf fully integrated automated inspection solution as an alternative to CMMs for sheet metal, castings, and composites.

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