The hottest place measurement at the center of clo

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Put measurement at the center of closed-loop manufacturing system

in the past decade, the main driving force of U.S. economic growth has come from strong and steadily increased productivity. For many people, rising statistics make no sense. However, for bill kushmaul, chairman of Tech mold, the acquisition of productivity is related to the survival of his company. Kushmaul said, "the only way for our company to stay in the industry is to continuously reduce the labor composition in our products. In this competitive environment, we mainly rely on technological innovation to maintain our advantages."

since the establishment of the company in 1972, kushmaul has taken an active strategy to meet the requirements of the future, that is, constantly updating and improving the mold manufacturing process

the pursuit of perfection was the early feature of Tech mold and the key factor for its success today. In order to make quality inherent in more and more automated processes, tech mold recently purchased the coordinate measuring machine (CMM) (Figure 1), which is produced by Carl Zeiss IMT

Fig. 1 tech mold applies coordinate measuring machine (CMM)

as an injection mold manufacturer with high precision, multi-mode cavity and comprehensive and completely interchangeable parts (Fig. 2), tech mold company must generally keep the tolerance within one ten thousandth of an inch. Practice makes kushmaul believe that the only way to meet such strict requirements is to give up the old things of the mold factory. He said, "the mold factory may have the concept that molding is an old-fashioned and customized work. The fact is that the mold factory must automate as much as possible to maintain competitiveness and meet customer requirements."

today, tech mold is a factory applying the latest technology. EDM, WEDM, high-speed machining, grinding and other important processes have been truly automated here

due to dissatisfaction with the whole automation process, tech mold has taken the measurement method as the goal, which is the main bottleneck in the automated metal processing process. Although tech mold is still applying the new CMM to the manufacturing process, the company has redefined its previous measurement and quality concepts

detection automation

tech mold's guiding ideology is that the best production requires the use of recognized traditional manufacturing processes - and then eliminate human interference factors. Touch hand operation measurement method is a slow and variable process, which will periodically produce pause time. And when the number of items to be tested increases, the delivery time to customers will be extended

Figure 2 tech mold regards full automation as a necessity for efficient manufacturing of high-precision multi cavity molds

on the contrary, Zeiss prismo MPs can quickly measure a large number of parts and electrodes while maintaining accuracy and repeatability. Tech mold uses the scanning function of CMM to measure diamond samples, including planes and holes. However, for most measurements, tech mold applies the CMM's quick contact detection function (Figure 3)

Figure 3 the fast and point-to-point measurement method of Zeiss prisomo VAT can complete the measurement and data recording of die inserts with 320 sizes in about 12 minutes.

demonstrate these capabilities. Brett black, a senior die designer, cites an example, which is the inserts in the multi-mode cavity die made by the company, integrating 320 different sizes. "CMM can complete all these measurements in one step and record the data in 12 minutes," Black said Despite the complexity of this particular part, black estimates that the average time to measure each part with CMM is about 5 minutes

although it takes extra time to program CMM to measure special parts, it is a one-time investment because the inspection program is stored. Moreover, when the CMM is operated by a manipulator, it can operate unattended 24 hours a day. This has fully expanded the overall production capacity of the factory

in a highly automated factory like tech mold, CNC processing generally leaves a large number of items to be inspected at the beginning of each day shift. Kushmaul estimates that for EDM operations, his plant uses more than 30000 electrodes per year (Figure 4). This is the key reason why the realization of measurement automation is crucial to improve production capacity. 3. Classification by force measurement method

figure 4 Tech mold uses more than 30000 electrodes every year

but the online measurement method is not only beneficial to the production speed. The traditional touch CMM requires enough manual operation, which will lead to measurement errors. Automatic measurement can fully ensure the repeatability and accuracy in the whole production process. Therefore, when automation is necessary for metal processing, promoting measurement automation can be regarded as a necessary thing rather than an option

trustworthy computer data

an important aspect of Tech mold's process improvement is to learn to trust computer data and CMM, rather than paper drawing and manual measurement. Although the traditional measurement methods rely on the gauge block and the eye of the detector, the current technology continues to urge metal processing plants to accept virtual data and soft measurement

tech mold has gone far enough in this direction, and they have completely cancelled paper drawing. Lomax said, "we have to look at ways to eliminate all variability. So we have found that it is absolutely necessary to transfer the solid model directly from the engineering department to the computer in the workshop."

black and system programmer elango Ramanathan are working towards the goal of fully automated, closed-loop measurement and analysis. The result of system initialization has two sides. First of all, important data cannot be lost during the transformation from 2D drawing to 3D solid model. Sketching will cause unnecessary errors in any measurement process. Direct measurement based on CAD data can eliminate this error and make the measurement more accurate for the purpose of the design from the third quarter of 2018

second, there is no possibility of manual measurement error. Karl szanto, vice president of operations of Tech mold, said, "unlike before, which was only used to determine unqualified parts, CMM can now help prevent errors in the whole production process. In the past, when there was a conflict between manual measurement and machine measurement, we first doubted the machine. Now we tend to accept machine data and will recheck the manual measurement results."

this represents a significant shift in measurement methods. It also enables tech mold to achieve the highest level of design integrity. Here, the solid model contains the data that determines the part production plan, cam program and program arrangement information. This provides necessary information for the automation of parts production process

based on the early experience of Tech mold, the automated CMM not only maintains the accuracy comparable to the detailed manual measurement, but also can be repeated. Ramanathan describes the initial certification process of the plant for various uses: "CMM has impacted the leaders of our measurement team in terms of measurement speed and providing complete data analysis for immediate shutdown in case of abnormal conditions. The CMM report can be seen at a glance. Any dimension out of tolerance will be printed in one column, while the dimension within tolerance will be divided into two additional columns, one above the high position and the other above the low position." This analysis enables the machine operator to make minor adjustments to bring the edge measurements into line with the average

The ability of

cmm also represents some other options. For the customers of some mold factories, it is unusual to assemble plastic parts without blueprints. It requires copying or modifying. The speed of CMM measuring part surface and generating cad/cam data enables users to quickly create parts through reverse engineering. Moreover, the final detection data for product files can be generated faster than in the past. CMM can automatically create and verify data at key points in the production process, so as to place the measurement at the center of the closed-loop manufacturing system for the first time

joint and several relationship

although there are the latest metal processing and measuring equipment, this is only a part of the formula. Assuming that the CNC machine has a higher output capacity, it is necessary to ensure the effective flow of electrode and mold parts in the production process to optimize the plant operation. Tech mold uses robots to move workpieces between various machines to achieve this flow. In order to load and unload objects, the factory applies workman and workmaster manipulators (Figure 5), which are manufactured by system 3R company. The system consists of a rotating storage bin, which is used in several different jobs, and then can be operated unattended for a long time

the micro pallet system of system 3R in Figure 5 ensures that mold elements can be placed accurately and repeatedly when the workmaster manipulator carries objects,

or enters and exits the rotary storage bin.

in order to maintain the precision level of automatic production of precision molds, the clamping mode of workpieces cannot be changed. Tech mold applied the micro pallet system of system 3R. This system eliminates the manual installation and ensures the accurate positioning of the workpiece during the production process. Each die insert or EDM electrode is fixed to a separate tray with an XYZ reference system. In this way, the workpiece can be transferred between different machines without loss of accuracy

although tech mold has used the macro pallet system to automate processing operations for many years, it has now become a practical technology to integrate CMM into the process. By creating a mechanized manufacturing unit with measurement and quality control, the company is approaching the goal of producing 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This will enable the remote workshop of Tech mold to achieve the same production accuracy at 2 o'clock on Saturday morning, which has been achieved in busy working days

the future of automation

because tech mold continues to integrate CMM into the production process, the company is getting closer to its goal. Lomax said, "our plan is to make CMM a perfect part of our production cycle. We look forward to the day when the manipulator will put the parts on the CMM, and the CMM will transmit the electronic report directly to the machine tool." When tech mold fully develops the production system, it will continuously monitor all dimensional data and automatically adjust the metal processing machine to maintain reliable accuracy. Lomax describes the company's progress so far: "although the champagne has not been broken, we have declared victory."

for more information about the coordinate measuring machine (CMM) of Carl Zeiss IMT, please call (), or enter 36 on the station to visit the product showroom

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