Where will metrology be in 5 to 10 years?
We take a look at major developments in the metrology industry that are likely to happen in the future. By Jerome Alexandre Lavoie, product manager, Creaform.
Metrology has come a long way since its conception during the era of the pharaohs. It has particularly evolved in the last 25 years with the advent of lasers, 3D scanners, and optical technology. Therefore, it is logical to consider that this field will continue to evolve -new specificities will improve inspection, and new developments will change manufacturing processes.
Inspection will move from the metrology laboratory to the production floor. The keys to this transition will be the equipment portability, simplicity, and flexibility. Moreover, measurements will be performed without the need for human intervention, and manufacturing processes will self-correct based on these automated measurements.
Measurements Closer To Manufacturing
Now that metrology tools are moving closer to the production floor, their simplicity and ease of use will become mandatory to enable those who manufacture the parts to also inspect them.
Inspection will no longer be considered as a parallel procedure, but rather an integral part of the manufacturing process. Measurements will occur on several occasions during the manufacturing, so that the manufactured part will have already been measured at several times before completing its production process.
Simplicity And Flexibility
More operators will be asked to perform inspection directly on the production floor. Therefore, metrology tools will be intuitive, simple to use, and easy to“ understand. The level of expertise required to manipulate and operate these measuring equipment will decrease.
Moreover, there will be a transition period where inspection will still be managed by quality control teams who not necessarily familiar with automatisation and robot programming, and progressively moving to production teams who are not completely used to measuring methods.
Metrology will have to rely on flexible solutions during this period to get measurements, which will soon be automated and self-corrected
Three Likely Trends In Future:
3D scanning solutions will gradually be replacing probing solutions for three major reasons: speed of acquisition, density of information analysed, and short time required to characterise a complete part.
Software and Hardware Integration
In the future, there will be better synergy between each of the system components. Indeed, both software and hardware will be jointly developed by the same company to fully interact, operate and give users maximum capabilities.
Therefore, generic software compatibility with each and every piece of hardware will give way'to an integration of both. It will allow for more possibilities and provide users with important benefits, especially in terms of simplicity and ease of use.
In the future, human intervention during inspection will be replaced by an automated measurement system. Since programming may quickly become a nightmare for quality control teams, they will prefer using flexible and intuitive software integrated with the hardware. Ultimately, it could be as easy as manually making a motion, so the robot can record and program its trajectory independently.
Tackling Automated Inspection
For automated quality control processes, Creaform's Metrascan 30 R-series has seven built-in laser crosses and is able to pick up to 480,000 measurements per second, with an accuracy of up to 0.03 mm.
The robot-mounted scanner has a small shop-floor footprint for measurement of large parts with complex geometries on the manufacturing noor. It is also compatible with a turntable.
The scanner has glass-protected positioning targets that can withstand environmental conditions on the shop floor such as airborne dust or dirt.