In the modern world, in-process gaging is a more sophisticated process. This is because it uses equipment that reduces operator influence and contains software that controls the adjustment frequency and amount. The inline metrology equipment today consists of many features that help facilitate a smoother process compared to the processes of the past.
FEATURES OF THE MODERN WORLD
An example of a feature included in equipment today is laser scanning of micrometers with part detection and automatic run execution. This feature can detect and measure a part while it is being produced. It then sends the data it has measured directly to a PLC. The data is then processed through the PLC, which monitors that measured diameters. When a limit is reached, the PLC can then make adjustments. Notably, the limit needs to be set by an engineer before part processing and needs to be calculated through a statistical process.
Another feature that is available in the present world of in-process gaging is in-machine probing. This feature allows a part to be measured while still being located in the machining center. The data that is measured from this feature helps to determine part conformance and allows removal of additional materials if necessary.
For an in-process gaging technique to be considered modern, the following components need to be incorporated into the process:
- A machine tool that allows offsets to be made via PLC control.
- A piece of metrology equipment that has the ability to output measurement results and that is required to be accurate and repeatable.
- Software that can import and export measured data and determine when an adjustment is needed on a part.
MIXING THE PAST WITH THE PRESENT
While most in-process gaging techniques have change drastically due to the introduction of technology, there are still some techniques from the past that are still frequently used today. For example, in-process inspection with hand tools is still very common. Calipers and micrometers are still used by operators regularly. The only difference is that data collected from this technique is transferred to a PLC or a compensation software via cables or wireless technology.