Taking a look at machine accuracy in practice

On 15 October Etalon demonstrated what precision in production entails. It showed what measuring apparatus can do for machine tools and 3D coordinate measuring machines.

Etalon introduced the LaserTRACER MT during the successful workshop held at the Sirris Precision Manufacturing Lab in Diepenbeek. The LaserTRACER MT is based on the principle of multilateration that is also found in GPS navigation systems. This is about extremely precision measuring apparatus (the measurement uncertainty of length U95% is 0.2 µm + 0.3 µm/m) quickly determining - between 1 and 6 hours depending on the size of the machine - the geometric accuracy of a machine tool, whether it is small, medium-sized or large. The area of application also includes the calibration of 3D coordinate measuring machines. Both linear and rotational axes are measured. Typical errors include the positioning accuracy, straightness, squareness, effects such as punching, yaw and roll, angle positioning accuracy, etc.

The accuracy measurements can be used for the volumetric compensation of geometric machine errors (TRAC-CAL), as well as simply verifying the geometric machine accuracy (TRAC-CHECK) within a short space of time. The machine controls must be fitted with this option in order to compensate the machine volumetrically.

The cheapest version, the LaserTRACER MT can be used for small to medium-sized machines. The more expensive version without telescopic guidance, the LaserTRACER NG, can also be used for larger machines.

It emerged from those present that there is certainly interest in this apparatus. A few reactions:

"Calibrating our 3D measuring machines currently takes us about four days. But with the LaserTRACER it would take no more than a single day."

"The measuring apparatus demonstrated here could be used for making quick assessments of the status of the machine accuracy. This could be time-saving and also provide a uniform method where a lot of machinery is involved. We'll certainly be assessing the usability."

This workshop took place within the scope of the IWT research project, 'Precision Manufacturing for new and better products'.