Hexagon transforms production processes by adding contactless laser scanning capabilities on machine tools

Probe-based machine tool inspection has a well-deserved reputation for delivering clear productivity gains. But when it comes to capturing a full digital image of a clamped freeform workpiece, it can fall short.

A probe only records a representative sample of a part’s surfaces. As a result, the comparison between the actual target and the values from the CAD drawing for free-form surfaces is not always 100% accurate.

Operators using probes to inspect surfaces before repairing moulds or reworking welded surfaces therefore need considerable expertise to understand and act on their findings. Even then, highly skilled staff face challenges that can make them prone to error or delay. It is only possible, for example, to roughly estimate in advance the positions of damaged or welded surfaces, which means lengthy set-up and processing times. And operators still reliant on probe inspection often have to set the approach paths of the milling tools too high in order to ensure they capture and mill all layers and thicknesses of the repair site. This usually leads to costly air milling, which wastes time because no machining takes place.

The task is even harder when using a probe to capture parts or surfaces without an existing digital data set because it involves recording large number of individual points tactilely and then laboriously recreating them in the CAD/CAM system. Often the workpiece has to be unclamped, digitised in the measuring room and programmed accordingly. Reworking with very small tolerances is particularly difficult to achieve, takes a lot of time and often entails huge compromises.

Now an innovation in machine tool inspection from Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence is saving time and opening up a whole new range of production capabilities.

Hexagon’s laser scanners for machine tools work directly on the machine tool to rapidly capture a complete picture of a part’s surface, making it ideal for repairs, capturing complex surfaces and reverse engineering. The recently launched and market-leading m&h LS-R-4.8 laser scanning system, together with the RC-R-100 receiver and HxGN NC Measure software, can be automatically loaded into the machine without any cable or manual intervention and is therefore ready to be implemented in fully automated production processes.

The scanners capture around 40 000 points in one second to generate dense data that is particularly informative. The corresponding software comes with a simple interface and can communicate with the latest controllers from Siemens, Heidenhain or Fanuc.

This new approach to rapid, data-rich machine inspection opens up entirely new possibilities – and not just in the field of model construction. Even extremely thin structures made of fragile can be safely measured without any risk of breakage.

Learn more about Hexagon’s ground-breaking laser scanners for machine tools and the newly launched LS-R-4.8 laser scanning system.


  • Manuel Müller

    Manuel Müller is a Product Marketing Manager at Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division. He is responsible for the product marketing strategy for the sensors and components product line, located in Waldburg, Germany. While studying for his bachelor’s degree in Business Management and Marketing, he gained wide experience working for global brands in Germany and North America. Manuel has been with Hexagon since 2014.

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