Transforming your manufacturing capabilities with non-contact measurement

Traditionally, assessing the viability of a new quality assurance solution would, in simple terms, be a case of asking “does this product offer the accuracy required to measure the part(s)?”. In other words, the effectiveness of a given metrology technology was largely determined by its accuracy.

Of course, meeting the required accuracy needs of a given application is no less essential than it ever was. Accuracy and repeatability will always be crucial factors that determine the functionality and safety of components and final products. They are also key to the efficiency of quality and wider manufacturing processes, driving right-first-time and reducing waste.

But over the years, the manufacturing market has grown ever more competitive. As economies have expanded, so demand for more products has increased. Not only that, but there is increasing demand for greater customisation.

Compounding these pressures is the growing awareness of the impact industry and consumption has on the environment. With each passing year, there seems to be a growing sense of responsibility on the part of manufacturers to make products and processes greener (client and regulatory pressures seem to also follow this upward trend).

With these and other changes and challenges, greater demands are being placed on metrology departments. Assuring quality is vital work, but it’s no longer enough. The quality function is now increasingly tasked with finding opportunities to save time and cut costs in the department and help ramp up productivity throughout the product lifecycle. For market leaders, the quality function is central to the company’s agility and driving expansion into new markets.

Naturally, quality technology plays a key role in helping quality functions meet these challenges. The good news is that, just as the market has been evolving, technology has been evolving too. Since the first stationary coordinate measuring machines (CMMs) with tactile probing, a plethora of solutions have followed offering non-contact inspection methods.

From chromatic white light technology, through structured light scanners, to interferometric sensors, these ever-advancing solutions are contributing to this major shift in quality. Firstly, where once quality professionals would look at a solution and ask “will it measure my part?” – now they can look at any given part and ask “can I measure it?” In other words, the technological advances in non-contact technology is helping organisations to expand their application capabilities and enter new markets, increasing competitiveness and agility.

Because of the wide variety of non-contact solutions available, the answer is almost certainly “yes!” A laser triangulation scanner is particularly effective for inspection of molded parts prior to and after post-processing steps. On the other hand, a manufacturer looking to measure a sensitive optical lens for a smartphone may opt for a chromatic white light sensor. These examples don’t even scratch the surface of the inspection and application flexibility offered by non-contact inspection technologies.

In addition, non-contact measurement strategies are optimised to support an organisations’ productivity goals. For example, an interferometric sensor can capture 1000 data points per second. A blue line laser scanner can offer 36 000 points per second. Clearly, non-contact solutions could play a major role in a manufacturer’s goals to increase throughput and streamline processes.

Of course, different applications require different solutions. Sometimes you need tactile methods, sometimes you need non-contact (although, top tip, market leaders need both). But the continuing advancement of non-contact solutions is expanding manufacturers’ options and making it easier to meet the major quality challenges of today and tomorrow. So next time you or a quality colleague are facing a new part or inspection challenge and ask “can I measure it?”, don’t forget that the answer may well be found in non-contact technology.

Check out the full range of Hexagon’s non-contact sensors to learn more about how these technologies can benefit your inspection processes.

Be sure to check out the virtual ‘Can I Measure It?’ event, as Hexagon experts showcase how you can maximise the effectiveness of your manufacturing data for more productive, sustainable processes. Plus, you’ll get an exclusive peek at next-generation Hexagon technology.





  • April Guenet

    April Guenet is a Product Marketing Manager for Bridge and Shop-Floor CMMs at Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence located in North Kingstown, Rhode Island. Guenet has written numerous articles and blog entries for both technical and nontechnical industries. Before joining Hexagon, she served as a marketing coordinator for a global analytical instrumentation manufacturer with experience in marketing, social media management, public relations, and digital marketing. Guenet holds a Bachelor of Science in Advertising and Marketing Communications from Johnson & Wales University.

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