When manufacturing small batches with high precision, digitalization and networking between production systems, machines, and measurement technology are crucial in modern production strategies. Alicona Imaging, supplier of high-resolution optical 3D measurement solutions, shows how optical metrology contributes to achieving this. For example, its cobot systems are proven in the field.
Measurement technology has become the “smart eye” for production, and 3D measurement must become an integral part of the production chain instead of being located at the end of a manufacturing process. Only then can 3D metrology actively engage in manufacturing operations and correct production steps. As a result, faulty components are no longer produced, and first parts are already good parts.
The use of measurement technology as an integral part of production is based on optimized communication and networking of humans, machines, production systems, and measurement technology. To implement modern strategies, companies need automated measuring systems that can be used by any operator without prior knowledge of measurement technology. Components with tight tolerances require optical, high-resolution measurement sensors, providing traceable and repeatable measurements.
Alicona’s Focus-Variation technology offers a platform for using optical 3D measurement technology in production with areal-based high-resolution 3D measurement sensors that can be integrated into existing production environments. Collaborative systems by Alicona, “cobots,” are one option to do so.
Alicona cobots combine collaborative robots and optical 3D measurement sensors, delivering traceable and repeatable measurements in high resolution. The measuring sensor is mounted onto a mobile robot platform. Cobots require no prior metrology knowledge and make handling, programming, and executing measurement series easy. This is made possible by intuitive, hand-guided controls for the teach-in of measurement series, automatic measurement evaluation, and a no-enclosures safety concept. Thus, cobots are ideal for verifying surface state and dimensional accuracy of workpieces in existing production environments. Whereas the existing Disk Cobot and Tool Cobot are application-specific collaborative systems for the aerospace and the tooling industry, the new Compact Cobot is a universal solution applicable in all industries to verify surface state and dimensional accuracy of large components.
Cobots are also used in an automatic setting. The robot arm, with attached measuring sensor, is guided by the operator to reach the desired surface position. Two handles with an integrated joystick are mounted on the sensor, making the robot arm easy to move. An app displays the live view for precise positioning and measurement. Using connected automation software, any series of measurements can be defined at several positions by an administrator. Control and measurement are automated, and upon completion the worker receives a measurement report with “OK” or “Not OK” details.
Digital Twin – Virtual Planning of a Measurement Series
Alicona’s Automation Manager, which is used for automatic measurement with the cobot solutions, is available for further form and roughness measurement systems.
The software module allows for automated measurement of complex component geometries in production. An administrator defines the requested measurement program, and an operator starts the pre-programed measurements at the touch of a button. In addition, an optional CAD/CAM connection allows the definition of measurements points, measurement directions, etc. directly in the components’ corresponding CAD file, the “digital twin” of the respective workpiece. A simulation provides a preview of the measurement process to be carried out. The virtual operation of the
Alicona measurement system comprises the entire process. The possibility to operate with a digital twin, as described here, allows manufacturers to integrate measurement technology into the design phase. This is a significant contribution to the continuing digitalization of manufacturing and supports the need for production operations to meet growing requests to manufacture small batches with the highest precision.