Verisurf Software and select resellers of CNC’s Mastercam have introduced Master3DGage, a portable rapid 3-D inspection solution that, they say, enables machine shops to significantly increase production and improve part quality.
The $33,000 hardware/software solution automates the 3-D inspection process and quickly verifies manufactured parts directly to 3-D CAD models. It was unveiled in March at the WESTEC Show in Los Angeles.
Master3DGage integrates a Hexagon Metrology six-axis portable CMM with Verisurf’s advanced 3-D model-based inspection software, which uses the “powerful CAD/CAM engine inside Mastercam,” David Olson, Verisurf Sales and Marketing Manager, told SAE’s Aerospace Engineering & Manufacturing magazine. The complete solution delivers a fully automated digital process to inspect directly to CAD models anywhere on the shop floor. First-article inspections are completed in minutes.
The Master3DGage solution is consonant with the rise of model-based definition, according to Olson. In model-based definition, the “3-D CAD model is the basis to drive all of the design, simulation, and manufacturing processes. Verisurf is extending the 3-D model into inspection.”
Aerospace OEMs such as Boeing and Gulfstream are “leading the charge in model-based definition,” said Olson. And the OEMs are driving its use “down the entire supply chain.” There are productivity benefits, but there also are very good quality benefits with model-based inspection and model-based definition, he said.
Regarding the model-based definition’s productivity benefits, Olson said: “You can either significantly reduce or, in some cases, completely eliminate drafting and 2-D drawings. That’s a major cost and productivity benefit.”
Said Olson about accuracy and quality: “If the model is now the master of your process, not the 2-D drawing, then you eliminate any disagreement between drawings and the model and any disagreement in the downstream processes between drawings and models. If you don’t have drawings, you eliminate discrepancies. And that’s exactly what Boeing is doing, that’s exactly what Gulfstream is doing, that’s exactly what a majority of these aerospace companies are doing. They do not provide a drawing to their suppliers; they supply a 3-D model.”
With the portable Master3DGage, inspection is a simple three-step process involving alignment, inspection, and reporting. Said Olson:
• Alignment of the manufactured part is done by probing the part to the corresponding alignment targets on the 3-D CAD model.
• Inspection of the manufactured part is done in real time by manually probing or by following automated inspection plans.
• Reporting of inspection results is done automatically and output in HTML and Excel formats.
In its roller case, Master3DGage can be brought right to the part, with the part never having to leave the machine tool, and thus its alignment within the tool never having to be altered, said Olson. With traditional CMM, the part must be taken off the machine, delivered to a CMM room, queued behind other jobs, inspected, put back into the machine, then realigned within the machine. The latter is a very time-consuming process compared to that of the battery-operated, portable Master3DGage.
“It’s a leaner process, and it’s an in-process process,” said Olson. “Those are major buzzwords for the aerospace industry.”
In addition to the faster, more accurate, and more efficient inspection process that uses 3-D models and a portable CMM (vs. 2-D prints and hand tools), Master3DGage offers a better mechanism to communicate to the part designer whatever variances are detected in the part on the shop floor. “So you get a closed loop,” Olson said. “You’ve now taken a broken, open-loop process using 2-D drawings and hand measuring tools and turned it into a closed 3-D loop from design to simulation to manufacturing to inspection. And since you can write tolerance variance data directly on the 3-D model, you can display it back to the guy who did the original design—thus, he can see the impact of the manufacturing process on his design and make adjustments in future designs.”
“As far as I know,” Olson continued, “we are the only ones that can take any CAD model—it can be from CATIA, Unigraphics, Pro/ENGINEER, SolidWorks—and define model-based inspection features to it.