Ask the experts: trials and calibrations

A coordinate measuring machine (CMM) running at optimum performance is essential for reliable and productive manufacturing operations. In this two-part series, I’ll answer key questions about how to ensure your measuring machines perform at their best.

Here, we’re looking at moving and calibrating CMMs.

Question: I need to move my CMM. Can I do it myself?

The short answer is no, it’s not a good idea. All stationary CMMs require some level of disassembly and bracketing prior to moving and most need an expert to relocate them.

A CMM is an expensive, delicate machine with many intricate parts, including scales, encoders and precision air bearings, which can be easily damaged if handled incorrectly. Because the air supply is disconnected when a machine is moved, the air bearings are in direct contact with the way surfaces. If the CMM isn’t properly bracketed before moving, you risk damaging the bearings or the ways. And to be clear, we don’t suggest you try to move a machine with the air turned on either!

When you relocate a CMM – even just a few feet – it’s best practice to have it levelled and recertified. If you’re planning on moving a machine, try to synchronise the move with your regular calibration interval. Hexagon service engineers are experts at CMM relocation, whether you are moving the machine across the plant or across the country. We can make sure the job is done right every time.

The exception to the rule is if you have a shop-hardened CMM on a stand with wheels or a shop-floor CMM like the TIGO SF or the 7.10.7 SF. Models like these are designed to be relocated very easily, as long as they are moved short distances across a level floor. Any type of CMM that has to be moved to a different level, particularly by lift, should be re-certified at its destination.

Question: Does it matter who calibrates my CMM?

Yes. A calibration from Hexagon gives you the confidence that you are getting the best calibration service. Firstly, the engineer has guaranteed access to the range of official software and hardware tools required for the job. Secondly, it is sometimes the case during a calibration that a part needs to be replaced, and this can often only be done with the original spare parts, which Hexagon-certified engineers have access to. Furthermore, customers with a Hexagon hardware maintenance agreement get faster delivery of these spare parts.

We also can’t guarantee that third parties not approved or trained by Hexagon can ensure your CMM is returned to its originally specified performance. Hexagon CMMs are adjusted using our proprietary software compensation map, which enhances the accuracy of your CMM to be the best it can be. When a software-compensated CMM is adjusted physically, the integrity of the software map is compromised and the measuring accuracy is lost. The process for remapping the CMM can take up to five days, and a Hexagon-certified engineer ensures that this job is done properly to minimise your downtime.

Don’t cut corners with your CMM; it is your ultimate referee for shipping good products or bad products. You would never change key motor components in an expensive sports car with non-OEM parts, so why not use Hexagon to service your Hexagon CMMs? Our factory-trained technicians are among the most highly skilled in the industry. They know the product inside and out, they have the proprietary tools, software and methods, and they will do your calibration right.

From system maintenance to training, there are a number of considerations when it comes to optimising CMM performance. See our full range of service and support to find out how our global teams of local experts can help you.


  • Mike Blake

    Mike Blake has worked in the metrology industry for almost 30 years. He began his career building CMMs at DEA and became a quality manager in 1996. Mike first began working at Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence North America in 2005, becoming the Portable Arm Service Manager in 2012. Upon starting, his first priority was to get Portable Arm Service ISO 17025 Accredited for Calibrations. Accreditation was achieved and the North America team perform all portable arms service in our state-of-the-art calibration lab in Wixom, MI.

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