ZeroTouch metrology platform processes faster than conventional

The sensors can be configured to the specific GD&T measurements and the part, and in one scan can capture data points to create a high-density 3D model. This makes it possible to measure objects made of a wide variety of materials with complex geometries, including holes, undercuts, bevels, and surfaces quickly and with micrometer precision. (Courtesy: DWFritz Automation)

Conventional measurement systems such as coordinate measuring machines (CMMs) are typically used for quality control in various industries. Most traditional contact-based inspection systems are characterized by long measurement cycle times. Changeovers to measure other parts and the attendant programming also add to the delay. Further, contact-based measurement technologies are not suitable for generating large amounts of data points required for complex surfaces. Because of these limitations, systems such as CMMs are not an ideal solution for 3D inspection on the production line.

To solve these problems, DWFritz Automation has developed the ZeroTouch measuring platform. The system uses multiple non-contact sensor technologies to rapidly measure in three dimensions and in real time. ZeroTouch’s proprietary software then creates a highly accurate dense 3D point cloud. In addition, by simplifying complicated programming procedures, ZeroTouch reduces the system configuration time to just a few hours, saving substantial production time and costs.

“Quality control is critical in production operations,” said David Mendez, vice president of the ZeroTouch business unit at DWFritz Automation. “Preparations, such as programming, as well as the measuring process itself, often take a great amount of time and result in high costs. In addition, inspection tasks requested for manufacturing often collide with other measurement requests such as those from other manufacturing lines, pre-production tests or even R&D.” The measurement platform developed by DWFritz features a 5-axis architecture that captures millions of data points per second in a single scan to create a dense 3D point cloud. The system enables the rapid measurement of complex part geometries and precise inspection of the most complicated parts with high repeatability.

The system uses a unique planar air bearing design that minimizes tolerance stack error. The near-zero friction design provides extremely smooth, high-speed motion of precision stages and improves gage repeatability and reproducibility (GRR). In contrast, tactile probes typically operate at slower speeds as they require physical contact with the part surface. Contact measurements are primarily limited to 2D scans – typically generating sections or contours whereas ZeroTouch can generate complete 3D surfaces with an accurate and dense grid of data points. Acquisition of the data points is extremely rapid, at a rate of up to four million points/s. In addition, the system combines various technologies such as laser and chromatic confocal sensors with high-resolution cameras with multi-spectral illumination. Further, the user has flexibility in choosing the right sensing technologies to get optimal measurement results. For example, shiny or specular surfaces will require specific sensors such as white light confocal or interferometric sensors. On the other hand, laser profile sensors may be needed for surfaces with matte-like finishes.

DWFritz Automation developed the ZeroTouch metrology platform to dramatically improve part measurement and inspection times. The system uses multiple non-contact sensor technologies to capture the measurements in three dimensions and in real time. (Courtesy: DWFritz Automation)

During the development of ZeroTouch, special attention was given to problems that conventional CMMs face: obtaining quick, accurate, and reproducible results to keep pace with manufacturing cycle times. Most traditional inspection systems have issues specifically with speed, ease-of-use, and machine availability. As a result, traditional measurement technology does not lend itself to inline inspection or even fast sampling.

Providing the operator with a tool that is easy to use to perform rapid quality checks of various types of parts produced by different lines is vital to ensure the qualification of manufacturing lines, in addition to speeding up the production ramp. CMMs are typically located in environmentally controlled inspection rooms, which often impact machine availability. If the parts are to be inspected in the metrology room during the production process, part “queues” are to be expected, due to limited machine availability coupled with long CMM setup times. 

ZeroTouch has been designed precisely to mitigate these issues, being fast, flexible, easy to use, and compatible with the manufacturing environment.

ZeroTouch enables 100 percent part inspection. In addition, it is characterized by its ease of use. By giving the operator an easy-to-use tool, different types of parts produced on different lines can be quickly inspected. Such capability will enable the rapid qualification of manufacturing lines and speed up production ramp.

The innovative design of ZeroTouch presents an improvement in surmounting the challenge of repeatability in a hostile manufacturing environment. Since it can perform multiple measurements in parallel using different sensors, parts and assemblies can be analyzed significantly faster than a conventional CMM.

“The sensors can be configured to the specific GD&T measurements and the part, and in one scan the system can capture data points to create a high-density 3D model,” said Mendez. “This makes it possible to measure objects made of a wide variety of materials with complex geometries, including holes, undercuts, bevels, and surfaces, quickly and with micrometer precision. At the same time, the system provides very high reproducibility and