Crowds expected at Expo Manufactura

The most important manufacturing event in Mexico, Expo Manufactura, is set to get underway on 6-8 February. Last year, over 330 exhibitors (91 from overseas) presented their products and services to around 12,400 visitors, and similar if not higher numbers are expected in 2018.

Staged at the Cintermex venue in Monterrey, among the special areas at the 22nd edition of the show are automation and robotics, additive manufacturing, medical manufacturing and plastics manufacturing. The LA Times recently reported that “Mexico is in the throes of a manufacturing boom”, with exports jumping 13% since 2012. The country has also climbed to become the world’s seventh largest producer of cars. MTI will once again be among the exhibitors at Expo Manufactura, where the team will be busy handing out copies of the show issue to all visitors interested in acquiring machine tools and associated equipment.
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Metrology specialist announces restructuring

Measurement Solutions, the UK partner for Creaform 3D portable metrology and Metrologic inspection software, has announced plans to restructure its business activities in response to the changing demands of customers and the 3D measurement and scanning market in the UK.

The changes have been made in light of the manufacturing industry progressively moving away from traditional fixed CMM solutions towards portable metrology systems, in particular hand-held scanning technologies, and the implementation of automated inspection using industrial robots. Measurement Solutions says the changes will provide customers with a more responsive and technically capable sales and support experience.
The new business structure will see the formation of two separate technology teams, each dedicated to different market application and product requirements. The Portable Metrology Division, headed by Jason Bridge, who has over 20 years’ sales experience within the metrology and 3D measurement sector, will focus primarily on portable measurement solutions. Activities will centre exclusively on the sales and support of portable measuring systems for industrial applications, such as the HandyScan 3D and MetraScan 3D solutions from Creaform.
To complement these activities, David Harper will head the Metrology Integration Division to focus on providing software solutions so that customers can make full use of their 3D measuring systems. This will include not only traditional CMM applications and services, but also be dedicated to providing quality control solutions through the integration of proven metrology software within the emerging automated measurement market using industrial robots. Harper has over 30 years’ experience in CNC CMM applications.
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Blum helps firm achieve 2 μm precision

A complex component incorporating four long slots among other features was posing problems for Timo Lehmann, the CEO of Karlheinz Lehmann GmbH in Oberwolfach, Germany. The solution for the subcontract manufacturer was ultimately provided by a Citizen Cincom M32 turning centre and a TC76-Digilog touch probe from Blum-Novotest.

“Highly complex components are part and parcel of our business, but manufacturing a quick-coupler for a compressed-air input was a tough nut to crack,” says Lehmann of the challenges posed by a project for customer Parker Hannifin GmbH. “The key components are made from hardened and coated free-cutting steel with threads, bores and four lightly tapered slots. The slots were the crucial point of the whole design.”
The parallelism of the slots was only allowed to vary by 2 μm from the reference values. Otherwise the fully automated machine that assembles the component unit at Parker-Hannifin, would abruptly stop. Moreover, the quick-coupling would not work if the tolerance was exceeded.
Blum’s TC76-Digilog touch probe proved the only cost-effective means of verifying the design’s dimensional accuracy. Analogue measurement is always advantageous for assessing areas or lines. If a switching digital probe were to be used in the Lehmann application, a very large number of points on the slots would have to be measured in order to attain an adequate resolution. In contrast, the TC76-Digilog scans across the surface at a measuring speed of 2 m/min. As this is happening, the system generates an extremely large number of values (50,000 per second in fact) in a fraction of the time required for analogue data acquisition.
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Steel firm boosts quality management

Swiss Steel’s Emmenbrücke plant has awarded MET/Con an order to supply a PQA (Product Quality Analyzer) for quality management along its complete production chain. The new PQA from MET/Con will be implemented as a pilot for a group-wide Industry 4.0 initiative. With this quality management system, Swiss Steel aims to enhance quality levels along its production chain, achieve more stability in the production process, further improve on-time delivery performance and optimise company competitiveness.

MET/Con, a company of SMS Group, was commissioned to supply an integrated IT solution operating on knowledge-based expert rules. Use will be made of a software and database solution from Aachen-based QuinLogic, an SMS Group company. Solutions based on this approach have been successfully implemented at selected flat steel producers running a variety of downstream processes.
The PQA system carries out online analyses of process, production and quality data from steelmaking, casting and rolling, right down to the drawing processes. PQA quality rules, which can be freely configured and fed with specific know-how, take into account customer- and order-specific information in the quality assessment process and for the block-or-release decisions for the next downstream processing step.
With this project, Swiss Steel, Steeltec and MET/Con want to set a milestone showing how the performance, efficiency and quality level of the mill can be further improved by gaining total process and production transparency.
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All-in-one vision system offers stability

Available from Keyence, the CV-X and XG-X series multi-spectrum vision systems now offer new levels of colour detection performance that will yield broader application potential for consistent and stable quality inspection in automated production. Keyence´s new eight-wavelength, multi-spectrum ring-lighting technology combines with high-speed monochrome cameras and software. As a whole, the system is said to offer flexibility in synchronised lighting, colour control, segmented lighting and image capture.

The new CA-DRM multi-spectrum lighting unit supports eight wavelengths, including infrared and ultraviolet, through dedicated colour LEDs. By harnessing the capabilities of multi-spectrum lighting, three operational modes can be selected or combined via software tools to provide an all-in-one image analysis solution that covers colour recognition, form and shape, surface gloss and target variability.
Keyence´s multi-spectrum vision systems are available as the CV-X series one-system solution, and the customisable XG-X series, which suits application-specific quality and inspection. The icon-driven CV-X is said to allow simple set-up for reliable product inspection, while the XG-X provides flowchart programming for flexible integration in large-scale automated machinery. Both variants offer a selection of CMOS cameras and controllers supporting resolutions of up to 21M pixels. CA-DRM multi-spectrum lighting units are available in nominal sizes of 50, 100 and 200 mm, and may also be equipped with dome and polarisation attachments.
The combination of hardware and software contributes to high levels of inspection stability through features such as real-time intensity controls that maintain illumination and optimise LED performance over time. These systems are designed for high-speed production applications and can be adapted for use on-the-fly to further optimise throughput.
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