by Eric Lundquist
In a recent article in Quality Magazine, the author looked at ways that automation and robots are leading the charge for a “new landscape” in the metrology world.
At A.A. Janson, metrology is our business. For 5 decades we have watched coordinate measuring machine manufactures improve the accuracy of their product. In some case people might say it was a race to see who can manufacture the most accurate, fast and durable machine on the planet. They have not let us down. It is no surprise that robot manufacturers would try to achieve the same results.
As robots have become more accurate, they have been able to be used as a tool in assembly. However in the last decade, I have also seen them used at our customer base to cut, drill and measure. My first involvement 10 years ago was somewhat disappointing. I was involved in measuring hold diameter and locations created by a robot. The robots could not consistently cut the same size hole throughout the volume of the machine. The diameter sizes varied .010 and I found this to be very disappointing. Because of this, they were only being used in industries with wide open tolerances.
For decades CMM manufactures have tried to move the CMM’s to the shop floor with limited success. But the shop floor environment takes its toll on an accurate CMM. In contrast, robots have been operating on the shop floor for decades. The robots can handle the harsh environments. The robots have been repeatable just not accurate enough for most measurement applications.
WHEN there is a market mankind will respond. With new ways to calibrate and a more accurate map for robot volume, I see great potential. I think the CMM manufacturers have found a new competitor that might be able to offer a value added product with traceability on the shop floor.