AIMS Metrology Blog

AIMS Metrology Blog


Some Like it Hot (But Not on the Shop Floor)

In the 1959 film Some Like It Hot, two male musicians witness a mob hit and flee the state disguised as women in an all-female band. Of course, things begin to heat up as further complications set in. Job shops are also looking to avoid the heat or "coefficient of thermal expansion" when it comes to needing a mobile coordinate measuring machine (CMM) that can withstand temperature variations on the production floor.

The Big Three – Planes, Medical Devices and Automobiles


If you're a regular reader, you know we've recently explored the automobile, airplane and medical device markets and the way these manufacturers use CMMs. We've summarized some of those key points as well as some additional information into a new ebook, which we'd like to introduce with this blog. Let's start with the airline industry!

Reshoring, Its Ripple Effect and How 5-Axis CMMs Can Help Support The Initiative

The Reshoring Initiative was founded by Harry Moser in 2010 to bring manufacturing jobs back to the U.S. In 1985 Moser served GF Machining Solutions (formerly known as GF AgieCharmilles) as president before retiring in 2010 as chairman emeritus. His passion for manufacturing in America has fueled his reshoring efforts which have been recognized nationally. Moser was inducted into the Industry Week Manufacturing Hall of Fame in 2010 and was named Quality Magazine’s Quality Professional of the year in 2012. 

Smart Quality Management

During the last few years Industry 4.0 has ushered the Internet of Things (IoT) and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) onto production floors across the U.S.  According to IHS Markit, the number of connected IoT devices worldwide “will jump 12 percent on average annually, from nearly 27 billion in 2017 to 125 billion in 2030." Simply put, the IoT is a massive network that connects people, machines and devices. So what does that mean for quality?

Thoughts on FABTECH 2017


FABTECH is North America's largest metalforming, fabricating, welding and finishing event, held every November at one of three rotating venues. This year, FABTECH opened to vendors, exhibitors and visitors in Chicago at McCormick Place. With more than 750,000 sq. ft. of floor space dedicated to approximately 1,700 world-class suppliers and the latest in industry products and developments, you're bound to see some interesting things.

Measuring Medical Device Surfaces: A Tricky Business


Medical device makers have a lot to keep up with these days when it comes to measuring parts. Adoption of additive manufacturing is growing. 3D printed parts must meet dimensional integrity standards but may not be suited to conventional measurement methods. Casting, plastic and metal injection molding and electrical and chemical erosion techniques also create components too complex for traditional measurement methods. So what is a manufacturer to do?

Medical Parts: Peeling Back the Layers of Quality Inspection


These days baby boomers are more active than ever. As 70 becomes the new 50, the demand for medical implants is on the rise. According to the American Joint Replacement Registry,  “hip and knee implants account for more than 85 percent of the joint reconstruction and replacement market.” The American Joint Replacement Registry also notes that more than 7 million Americans have had a knee or hip replacement surgery.

The prismatic or 3D parts that are used in joint replacements - along with other medical devices like stents and their coatings or instruments like scalpels - are tough to manufacture and even more difficult to inspect. Myriad geometries and materials contribute to the challenge of producing parts that meet stiff regulatory requirements. Meeting delivery deadlines can also present another snag if a manufacturer doesn’t have a fast and accurate inspection system.

Medical Device Industry Changes: Insuring Quality

The medical device market is moving at the speed of sound. Could quality get left behind?

These days the medical device market reads a little bit like an epic science fiction novel with a large cast of characters. Longer life expectancy coupled with an active lifestyle now defines 70 as the new “middle age.” Increased availability of healthcare, advances in real-time analytics, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and the integration of devices with evolving technologies is driving strong growth and rapid changes for manufacturers. The global market for medical device outsourcing is expected to reach $40.8 billion by 2018. As a result, the pressure to accelerate design and production to move products to market faster, more efficiently and more cost effectively is also growing.

A Smart Approach To Smart Production Environments

Since AIMS ranks customer service right next to superior product quality, I was interested to come across a new survey emphasizing the importance of both. The survey, conducted by iBASEt, targets lean champions, continuous improvement leaders, senior manufacturing execution system (MES) administrators and senior manufacturing engineers. The results are worth exploring.

A Piece of the Action: Coordinate Measuring

I'd just graduated from high school when I saw Star Wars in 1977. I basically witnessed the moment that cinematographer George Lucas changed the way movies are made by pioneering a new direction for computer animation and digital effects. Now, 40 years later, digital IQ technologies are changing the way manufacturers operate. Consider for example the "smart factory."  Its goal is to help companies gain significant real-time quality, time, resource and cost advantages from their production systems. Coordinate measuring machines play a key role as parts become more complex, with tighter tolerances and shorter customer lead times. But don't just take our word for it - let's hear from Pratt & Whitney's Wayne Nye.

Reshoring Means Parts in the Pipeline for U.S. Manufacturers


The Reshoring Initiative is an organization dedicated to showing manufacturers that local production can translate to lower cost of ownership of purchased parts and tooling.  In addition to dispelling manufacturing "urban myths," the Initiative, founded in 2010, “trains suppliers to effectively meet the needs of their local customers by giving them the tools they need to understand how to sell against lower priced offshore competitors.”  But as much as this term is used - do we all understand what it means?  And why bother?

Keeping it Clean: Calibrating and Certifying a CMM


Like offline programmers, individuals with the competence to calibrate a coordinate measuring machine, that is, make precise adjustments for particular functions or features, are difficult to find these days. This lack of skilled individuals has manufacturers turning to CMM OEMs to take on calibration and certification tasks. The demand, particularly among aerospace and defense, automotive, power generation and electronics manufacturers, is expected to expand the calibration services market to an estimated $6.84 billion by 2020. Tighter quality requirements, proactive maintenance and stricter government regulations are contributing to market growth.

Suppliers Want "Absolute Power" Over Body in White Quality Inspections

Photo courtesy of OSX,

In the 1982 blockbuster E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Elliott utters the memorable line, “One thing. I have absolute power. Say it,” just before he introduces E.T. to his brother Michael. Car makers are also asking for accurate absolute measurements, especially when it comes to Body in White (BIW) assembly.

According to Wikipedia, "Body in white or BIW refers to the stage in automobile manufacturing in which a car body's sheet metal components have been welded together. BIW is termed before painting & before moving parts (doors, hoods, and deck lids as well as fenders), the engine, chassis sub-assemblies or trim (glass, seats, upholstery, electronics, etc.) have been assembled in the frame structure."  As you can see, BIW involves many parts, and metrology plays a key role.

The Case For 5-Axis Measurement Technology

The U.S. Army Drill Team uses bayonet-tipped 1903 Springfield rifles to perform intricate, synchronized routines with split-second precision and timing. But the HHC, 4th Battalion, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment aren’t the only ones coordinating their movements. Coordinate measurement machines use a probe-tipped head that surveys part features with extreme accuracy. But have you ever wondered what the difference is between conventional systems that use indexing heads or fixed probes and 5-axis measurement technology?

A Day In The Life: The Auto Parts Maker


The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that Americans spent 39,243,750 hours in 2014 on yard work alone. Do you ever look at your own house or lawn and feel like your to-do list is endless? In the automotive and transportation industries, metrology needs also appear endless. Every part you can think of needs to be inspected at one point or another somewhere along the supply chain.

Auto makers are feeling the pressure of tightening margins and shorter turnaround times. Innovation continues to rapidly change the way parts are made. Also, automotive quality standards recently received a significant update, giving sector members one more thing to keep pace with. The challenge? Balancing innovation with safety.

Quality Control in the Automotive Industry: A Snapshot


We’ve all seen the commercials. You know. A driver enters a packed shopping space, sees a lone parking place and breaks out into a sweat trying to maneuver his or her vehicle into that tiny bit of real estate, all while other drivers wait impatiently behind them. A number of manufacturers are eliminating that headache with technology called active park assist or auto park. This self-help aid allows a vehicle to navigate its way into a parallel or perpendicular parking space while its driver just sits back and enjoys the ride. While driver assist technologies like this one hint at a future where cars could become their owners’ metallic chauffeurs, innovation is also spreading to the interiors of vehicles.

Aerospace Parts Production and CMMs

Feeling the pulse of an industry - its growth trajectory, disruptive technology, market pressures, trends, quality requirements - is intel that can be worth its weight in gold. For one thing, having the inside track can help you see where equipment like coordinate measuring machines will fit into the supply chain for a given market. For aerospace primes and their suppliers, CMMs are expected to take on an even greater role in parts production both during processing and following machining. Let’s take a look.

Bearing The Mark of Quality: CE Marking

Last minute gate changes, canceled flights and long lines at security can make air travel frustrating. Despite these stresses, a number of frequent fliers have taken up a costly hobby - collecting passport stamps. Coveted destinations include the Republic of San Marino, Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch in Wales, Antartica and Tristan da Cunha, which has a stamp in the shape of an island and a bird.

Why all this talk about passport stamps? Because for manufacturers looking to export products, a CE Marking is considered the “passport” that allows companies to gain access to the European Union and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) market.

Know Your Markets: CMMs and Aerospace

In the market for capital equipment?  You’ll want to look at three things before taking the plunge: budget, cash flow and the parts you need to make.  It’s equally important to know the markets you support and where they're heading in terms of growth, technology and changes that could impact the way you do business.  Let's look at the aerospace industry as an example and the role coordinate measuring machines (CMMs) face in the constant push for faster, streamlined production.

CMM or Gauge: Is This Really The Right Question?

These days, when it comes to measuring parts, manufacturers have their choice of coordinate measuring machines (CMMs), many that can perform touch, non-contact and mobile inspection.  Take, for example, the lab-grade Revolution Linear Motor (LM) CMM. Advanced technology like Renishaw’s REVO 2 allows it to perform non-contact inspection, while its precision measuring head and probe system collects data at a rate of 4,000 points per second. Additionally, infinite positioning and 5-axis motion offers access to complex features. Add Renishaw's PH20 and use the LM for 5-axis touch trigger work. Need mobility? Consider the Revolution Series HB. It uses PH20 technology, making it the only mobile 5-axis CMM on the market.  See? Lots of choices.