As an industry, it’s possible that North American manufacturing could have been virtually eliminated by the fierce competition unleashed by globalization had it not been for the intervention of coordinate measuring machines (CMMs). CMM machines facilitated automation on the production line of North American factories, dramatically improving efficiency and competitiveness at a time when factories in countries with historically smaller economies benefited from cheap labour and fewer regulations.

CMM machines can either use a computer or a human operator to control the machine, which uses a probe on its third moving axis to measure the physical geometrical characteristics of a part or object. The CMM machine has the blueprint of what’s being scanned uploaded in the machine, and if it detects any difference between the part or object being scanned and the blueprint, it knows the part or object contains a flaw. This is what makes CMM machines so adept at performing quality control functions on the production line.

There are a few types of CMM machines available, so read on to get a basic profile of the four most popular models.


Bridge CMMs

Bridge CMMs have been the bedrock of coordinate metrology since the 1970s. Today, they are still the most popular CMM machine. This is likely because they can handle a wide range of part sizes that accommodates most industries. They are revered for their reliability and precision, and deliver excellent value for the price.


Portable CMMs

The ROMER Arm is the most famous portable CMM machine, and it’s designed to perform quality control, inspection, on-machine verification, and 3D modelling. Check out authorized dealers who have been in business for decades if you need the widest selection of portable CMM measurement arms for your factory.

Portable CMMs are rugged machines that deliver accurate results, as the arm is able to deftly move around whatever part or object it’s scanning so as to measure the dimensions of all its sides. Portable CMMs can take already existing parts and reverse engineer blueprints for them. Because of its integrated scanning system, it permits inspection right on the shop floor. It can use a white light or laser system to collect thousands of data points per second, and can be used by anyone, in any location, after very little training.


Vision and Multisensor Systems

When the parts that need to be scanned are too small for a tactile probe, or any kind of physical contact, a Vision and Multisensor system is required. Video scanners and white light scanners measure parts less than 600 millimetres squared in area, and under 200 millimetres tall.


Gantry CMMs

Gantry CMMs are just like Bridge CMMs, only they’re designed to scan parts that are a magnitude larger. Gantry CMMs are commonly used by the automotive and aerospace industries in the production lines making parts for cars, planes and spaceships.

Gantry CMMs have easy access to the measuring volume, which makes loading parts either by crane or lift truck especially easy. Gantry CMMs also require thankfully little maintenance, as all the guideways and drive systems are located a safe distance from dirt or other contaminants.

The nature of what your factory produces will mostly determine what kind of CMM machine you need, but talk to a specialist today to find out specifically which CMM machine can best deliver efficiency on your factory’s production line.

Published by Ann Simpson