3-Axis Contact Probes vs. 5-Axis Contact Probes

One of the major challenges of precision machining is obtaining the accurate measurements necessary to conform to tight tolerances. Without accurate data about a component’s geometry, it’s impossible to configure machinery or monitor the shaping process for errors properly.

CMM probes, such as those provided by AIMS Metrology, are designed to solve this problem. These devices gather key data points before, during, and after the machining process to maximize efficiency and reduce the need for time-consuming manual measurements.

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What Is a CMM Probe?

A CMM probe is the key functional component of a coordinate measuring machine (CMM). Probes can take either continuous or discrete measurements of a component’s dimensions and surface qualities using contact or non-contact sensing techniques.

As suggested by their name, non-contact probes do not have to touch a workpiece. These systems extrapolate data points from optical or laser data, providing a steady stream of measurements. The downside of this high data volume is that it tends to be less accurate. Without physical contact, a probe must rely on less precise calculations to determine coordinates.

Although slightly slower, contact probes provide more accurate measurements by maintaining continuous or periodic contact with a workpiece to determine a part’s geometry. Contact probes are available in a wide range of configurations, differing in probe design and movement patterns to accommodate different surfaces. Additionally, they can operate on three axes or five axes.

3-Axis vs. 5-Axis Contact Probes

A 3-axis probe system employs a simpler mechanism that moves the entire CMM along one axis at a time, stopping to change direction and take measurements. While effective for many applications, there are some drawbacks to this integrated movement pattern. The frequent changes in speed and direction can cause disruptive vibrations or collisions, resulting in data errors. Additionally, it’s often necessary to change the stylus or head to maintain surface contact with the part.

A 5-axis probe system addresses these issues by separating the movements of the metrology system. While the CMM still moves steadily along a single axis, the probe head is free to move in multiple directions. In doing so, the probe experiences less vibration and is better able to maintain contact with the workpiece, reducing data errors and minimizing the need to change stylus.

Touch Trigger Probes vs. Scanning Probes

As mentioned previously, contact probes can take either discrete or continuous measurements. These different measurement techniques are performed by touch-trigger probes and scanning probes, respectively.

A touch-trigger probe takes individual measurements at specific intervals while a scanning probe maintains full contact with the workpiece throughout the entire measurement process. Touch trigger probes are an excellent solution for measuring depth, diameter, or positioning with extreme accuracy. Scanning probes are better suited for evaluating tolerance or overall form because they provide an uninterrupted stream of data with no gaps.

At AIMS Metrology, we offer both probe types to ensure that you can find the optimal probe for your application.

Our Trigger Touch Probes

Our TP20, TP200, and TP200B touch-trigger probes are 3-axis devices with 6-way measuring capabilities and highly sensitive gauge transducer tips. These products are ideal for generating highly accurate, repeatable measurements. While the 200 is designed for use with shorter styli, the 200B minimizes vibration to accommodate longer ones.

Among our 5-axis touch-trigger probe solutions, we recommend the Renishaw PH20. This probe uses advanced motion technology to minimize CMM movement for optimal measurement speed and accuracy.

Our Scanning Probes

Our line of Renishaw SP600 scanning probes allows for high-performance inspection, digitizing, and profile scanning. These 3-axis devices maintain continuous contact for accurate and high-speed measuring.

For complex part measurement, we offer a range of probes that take advantage of Renishaw’s REVO 2-axis measurement system. REVO has been heralded as one of the most revolutionary CMM advancements in recent years, using advanced 5-axis control to minimize unnecessary motion and offer unparalleled measurement speed and accuracy.

High-Performance Probes From AIMS Metrology

Selecting the right CMM probe can improve throughput and product quality while minimizing labor costs. At AIMS Metrology, we provide a full range of industry-leading advanced measurement solutions, including touch-trigger and scanning probes.

For more information on our measurement and probe solutions, contact us or request a quote today.