Laser-scanning in the machine

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 LS-C-5.8 laser scanner works 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.

Its blue laser can scan 36,000 points in one second to generate dense data that is particularly informative. And its 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 materials, such as narrow connectors on graphite electrodes, can now be safely measured without any risk of breakage.

Watch the video of the LS-C-5.8 laser scanner in action.

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