By: Pierre-Luc Delagrave -Applications Engineer
Last February, I was lucky enough to escape Quebec City’s harsh winter season for a while and fly to the warm Altamira region of Mexico in order to complete a 3D scanning project.
Turbocare asked Creaform to take several 3D measurements in a thermoelectric plant using steam turbines. The goal of this project was to replace the old, worn units, but also to improve the energy efficiency of the plant.
Given the extended scope of the project, it was impossible to replace everything in this dated plant, and it was decided that the envelopes on which the diaphragms were sitting had to stay in place. My task was to scan the diaphrams, their envelope and the rotor to get reliable measurements on which to reverse engineer the replacement parts. Doing so would ensure that everything properly fit in its right place during installation.
Since Turbocare needed to digitize each side of the diaphragm, we had to use devices that would provide very a accurate positioning model that would make it possible to link both sides of the object. So, I geared myself with the Handyscan 3D self-positioning portable 3D scanner and the MaxSHOT optical coordinate measuring system.
Dealing with unwanted vibrations
I also realized that I was bound to deal with vibrations – I was working in a thermoelectric plant! Luckily, I quickly solved this problem by placing referencing targets on the objects to be scanned to take advantage of Creaform’s TRUaccuracy dynamic referencing feature, which make the system (and the generated results) completely insensitive to vibrations. Consequently, there was no loss of accurary during scanning, even if the diaphrams were placed in a somewhat unstable vertical position.
Working with a portable scanner really helped me moving easily to directly reach the object to be scanned instead of having to wait for technicians to place it for me. This made the scanning a lot quicker, especially for the diaphragms. Some parts like the turbine stands were a little harder to reach and offered very little space to work, but all in all, everything went smoothly.
Working in sunny Mexico, or how to make sure that high temperatures have no effect on data
The temperature in Mexico was very nice at sunrise… but it quickly became suffocating in the early morning. Since this heat was having an impact on my body (and my sweating!), I figured it might be impacting the internal components of the scanner and coordinate system as well. Better safe than sorry, I made sure to calibrate the device 3 times a day to reflect temperature changes and guarantee data repeatability and accuracy. As the calibration process of a Handyscan 3D is so quick and easy (less than 1 minute), this really was a piece of cake.
When power generation engineers are happy, everybody is!
Turbocare engineers really appreciated working in parallel with Creaform technologies, because they saved time (quick data acquisition process) and were able to ensure high accuracy, which is an important benefit when performing reverse engineering.
Because our 3D measurement solutions deliver quality scanning data and versatility, Turbocare has become a returning client and often requests our metrology services for various projects throughout the world. I personally had the chance to work with them twice since, once more in Mexico and in the USA.
By: Marc-Andre Eschhold - Sr Applications Engineer
Witte is considered as one of the leading industrial companies in the field of “modular fixturing systems“. They are recognized as the global market leader in this area thanks to their Alufix modular system and versatile vacuum clamping systems for all kinds of machining applications.
Before the HandyPROBE optical CMM…
Before Witte acquired a Creaform HandyPROBE PCMM, the fixtures were roughly assembled on a structural plan, and the part contact for the fixtures was aligned on CNC measuring machines afterwards. Depending on the quality of the machined blocks, this approach could be very time-consuming, as the coordinate measuring machine would be used for adjustment tasks for fairly long periods.
And after the discovery of optical 3D measurement!
When pre-aligning the contact points using the HandyPROBE CMM, we were able to align most of the installation points of the fixtures with such high accuracy that no rework at all had to be done using the large CMM! As a result, the time needed to probe the fixtures with the CMM was reduced by a considerable margin. Note that it is essential for the fixtures to be placed on the CMM during the process, as this is where the measurement log for the final inspection of the contact points is done.
The training session highlighted some additional benefits of the HandyPROBE system, of which the dynamic referencing feature,that particularly stood out. This functionality enables both the fixture and the camera system to move during measurement. What’s more, the optical link used by the system totally ignores vibrations and environmental changes that occur in harsh working conditions, which means that they do not impact measurement accuracy at all.
As the picture shows, no special set-up is required for the component to be calibrated, and the component can be rotated into the ideal position during measuring. This method is not possible with measurement arms, as they require the component and the measuring system to be fully secured in relation to each other to ensure measurement accuracy. The HandyPROBE can be used practically anywhere, and it is ready to work in no time: it takes about 5 minutes to set up and about the same to put away!
After only 1 day of training in using the device, the employees at Witte were able to operate the Creaform HandyPROBE themselves and adjust their fixtures!
By: Mark Maizonnasse
While carrying out a recent project that I was assigned to, I witnessed firsthand the benefits of Creaform’s HandyPROBE optical and portable CMM over mechanical CMM like Romer or Faro arm.
A few months ago, I visited Ranger Design, manufacturer of customized van racking and storage equipment for commercial vehicles to inspect jigs that they had built for a major car manufacturer. I had to inspect 2 jigs for 2 different vehicles in one day; the length of the jigs varied from 3 ft. to 15 ft.
Choosing the right inspection tool
The fact that the parts to QC were so different in size really complicated my work. Plus, we had never worked in this location. Except for part size and tolerances, I didn’t really know what to expect. That being said, I was not worried at all. I knew that the HandyPROBE, with its TRUaccuracy concept, would help me do a great job.
When I got there, the customer was shaky and doubtful, because the jigs were located on the shop-floor and close to an assembly line. He was afraid that the vibrations would interfere with our system and data accuracy. OK – he obviously didn’t know how the HandyPROBE worked! We saved 1 hour of work straight from the start sincee we did not have to move the jigs.
I plugged the system in, started to affix the adhesive positioning targets on the jigs. I could have used magnetic targets, but because there was a possibility that we would have to do some more work on the jigs later on, the adhesive targets were a better choice because I could leave them on the jig so to be able to align the referential to the part instantly the next time!
Client wants in!
The client wanted to see how the system worked. In fact, he was so intrigued by the process that he participated in the calibration of the HandyPROBE! What interested him the most was how to leapfrog so to inspect the complete large jig. You should have seen the smile on his face when he saw how easy and fast the process was. With a click of a button, I started target acquisition on the other part of the jig: 20 seconds later, I was done!
After aligning the referential to the jig, I went on with the probing measurement, and I got real-time feedback from the system for every feature I measured while the program was being automatically built. At the end of the day, the customer wanted to add some comparison points. We simply inserted them into the report, which took no time at all.
By: Ludovic Robert
A major automotive manufacturer asked Creaform to 3D scan robot hands on their production line. This kind of tooling is used to manipulate embossed sheet metal that will be used for the vehicles under construction. These robot hands are all hand-tuned, because it is very difficult to predict the final shape of embossed sheet metal and know in advance if the robot will have a good grip on it. So, the client actually had 2 goals in mind with this project:
1) Update design drawings;
2) Use acquired data to get a better understanding and improve tooling design.
Some challenges awaited us: first, the client wanted to measure with very high accuracy the contact points between the tool and the part, and these are pretty small points. Plus, we had to deal with the very tight space of manufacturing cells, which are pretty crowded on the production line of a car manufacturer! For the sake of the project, we scanned during a temporary shutdown of the production line. We had access to the parts on a periodic basis, and we had to be fast.
3D scanning in highly-vibrating environments
Given the level of vibrations in the work environment, the number of parts to scan and the short period of time we had to do it, the accuracy required and the difficulty to reach the areas to be scanned, we had to use a system that would be accurate, fast, easy to set up and portable! A great challenge for the MetraSCAN 210 and the TRUaccuracy, TRUsimplicity and TRUportability concepts!
Working in no time!
Our access to the assembly line was extremely limited: we could only access the site for 16 hours total. The time window was so narrow that 4 applications engineers were needed to complete the work in time. But once the word was out that the manufacturing plant was in Barcelona, in Spain, finding volunteers became a piece of cake!
Having the chance to travel to various countries for work brings its share of surprises and challenges. In this case, we faced a major language barrier. Some of us could get by in Spanish, but Barcelonians most widely use Catalan as their primary language!
Despite some communications issues, the scanning part went very well. The fact that we were able to set up the C-Track far from the bulk of the equipment made it easier to scan the parts with the MetraSCAN 210 scanner. This scanner also facilitates and speeds up the scanning process because of its greater stand-off (compared to the Handyscan 3D scanners), while keeping steady data accuracy at all times.
By: Jocelyn Paquet - Applications Specialist
3D found its way into different steps of the product design process, and has for many years. Whether it is for 1st developing the preliminary concept, proceeding with the ergonomics analysis, or doing quality control, portable 3D scanners are becoming increasingly necessary tools that assist the manufacturing process, in several fields.
Being an industrial designer myself, I especially enjoy working with designers who are at this very stage where they get to materialize their vision. A this point, their vision is often still a sketch or a mock-up, but then it becomes something that’s a little closer to what the final product will be, like a 3D model or a prototype.
Of all the steps involved in the product development process, it’s definitely making a concept concrete that has always interested me the most. At this stage, every tool and/or methods are allowed to make it happen, including 3D scanning.
For the past 5 years now, I’ve been experimenting with the potential of 3D scanning in design, taking part in the development of many of our customers’ products. Since I 1st joined Creaform, I scanned numerous subjects/objects destined to become new products. There were mockups made of wood or clay covered in black marker annotations, there were electrical vehicles concept models, there were human body parts such as feet, calves, heads and limbs (made of plastics or plaster!!). Such different projects with distinctive features were all scanned with the same line-up of portable 3D measurement devices: the Handyscan 3D scanners.
What makes the Handyscan 3D an efficient tool to tackle such a wide range of projects, some quite simple, some undoable at 1st glance? It would be the 4 TRU, if you ask me… We’re talking about TRUaccuracy, TRUportability, TRUsimplicity and last but not least, the TRU-best-user-ever (that would be me, of course)!
Here are a few recent applications of the Handyscan 3D as used during the design phase:
By: Marcio Knapik - Applications Engineer
I’m a rookie application specialist at Creaform, and my 1st mandate was to carry out a project for a company specializing in the manufacturing of automotive accessories. The company requested our services to scan the interior of certain vehicles, the floor to be more specific. The goal of the project was to create custom-made floor mats for each vehicle. We 1st scanned the car floor, then reversed engineered it.
To execute this project, I used the Go!SCAN 3D portable scanner, a technology that Creaform launched in October of 2012. I thought this scanner was excellent for someone like me, who did not have a lot of experience working with such devices. With its “point-and-shoot” feature and software guidance throughout the process, it was really easy and fun to use, not to mention very quick at acquiring measurement data.
We had an extensive list of cars to scan, and we were competing against another company doing the work simultaneously. So, our goal was to scan as many vehicles as possible, as quickly as possible. Logistics were an important part of the project, since we had to find the cars before scanning them. Most of the vehicles we worked with were rented, we also had to pay a few visits to some dealerships in or around Quebec City.
Scanning the car floors with the Go!SCAN 3D was very simple, and prepping them even easier – I only had to place a few positioning targets here and there. After calibrating and configuring the scanner, I was good to go!
The temperature was one the biggest challenges that I faced during this project, because it was done in December and January, right in the middle of the very harsh – and cold – Quebec winter! We had to scan the cars outside, because there was no way to bring them indoors. Sometimes, the temperature went as low as -10° C (14° F)! This was a good test, both for the scanner and for myself – I come from Brazil, and I’m definitely not used to such polar temperatures! But more seriously, the scanner remained stable and calibrated during the whole process, and did not show any sign of failure because of the cold.
A few months after completing the project, the company contacted us again to scan additional vehicles. This time the list was much shorter, but this 2nd assignment meant that we did a good job the 1st time around. All in all, I scanned 30 or so cars, and I hope to do more in the future.
I had a lot of fun working on this project, and it was a great learning opportunity for me. I was able to better understand the operating mode of a portable 3D scanner such as the Go!SCAN 3D and the applications possibilities offered by this technology in the automotive industry, for sure, but also in other markets like aerospace, heritage preservation, arts and architecture, computer graphics and virtual reality!
By: Karl Demers
We have created a new infographic White Paper summarizing data presented at the 2012 CMSC International Conference. This new tool highlights the clear benefits of portable optical CMMs and dynamic referencing over traditional CMM arms, in a highly visual way.
Portable CMMs have revolutionized the world of metrology, bringing inspection tasks right into the production line, as close to the part as possible. But this huge improvement is not without its own set of challenges. This White Paper explains how portable CMMs compare to traditional CMM arms, and underline how portable optical CMMs truly are the future.
In this White Paper, you will learn about:
By guaranteeing accuracy in all measurement conditions and by reducing operator-related errors, dynamic referencing truly can exceed specifications offered by traditional CMM arms. Can you afford less-than-accurate measurements? See for yourself how portable CMMs can exceed traditional CMM arm specifications.
To download our White Paper infographic, please click here or on the image below.
By: Didier Serveille
I travelled to the tiny British town of Barrow-in-Furness, I have done my first training on how to use Creaform’s Pipecheck solution for pipeline integrity assessment with the Rugged Field Pack. The customer, British integrated energy company Centrica, owns hundreds of kilometers of pipelines, on and off shore.
Before they were introduced to Creaform’s Pipecheck solution, Centrica used to calculate burst pressure using a manual, lengthy and not-so-accurate method. They would put a grid on the pipeline and use a manual pit gauge to try and get the worst point for each one inch square of the grid. Then, they would take pictures of the pipes and use all of this data to generate a Word report with all the data they needed to decide if they had to close the plant for repair, or if it could wait for the next annual stop.
Centrica and the Pipecheck software for pipeline integrity assessment
But this was old times. Centrica now uses a Handyscan 3D scanner (an EXAscan to be exact), with the Pipecheck software for pipeline external corrosion assessment. No more grids, no more pit gages, no more pictures, and you no longer need to be extra careful when entering measurement data into the computer.
The only things left to do are to stick a Creaform retro-reflective targets every 3 to 10 cm of the corroded pipe, place the reference arrow if they want, and scan the pipe.
Tech Tip: The EXAscan offers an on-demand “High resolution” data acquisition functionality. When using an EXAscan to scan pipes, work with a resolution of 2-3 mm on healthy areas, and use the High resolution button when scanning corroded areas
In 3 clicks, Centrica get more than it ever did before. Click 1: Selecting the good template parameters. Click 2: calculating of analysis. Click 3: generating the full report.
What do they get now than they did not before?
No need to use the grid anymore, since they get the burst pressure instantly, in addition to the river bottom path and the surface area for each corroded area. And if they want to see the grid again, they can actually get a 2-mm square grid with just 1 more click.
Hands-on practice in the field – inspection staff is getting used to Pipecheck
After only 2 days of training, I went on site with the quality control/inspection team to QC a pipe section, so that the people at Centrica could try the system themselves. In less than 3 hours, they managed to prepare the system and the part, scan the pipeline, generate the Excel report, and clean all the area! They were really surprised how fast it went!
They were super excited when they realized that using the pit gage technique, it used to take them more than 3 days to take the very same measurements!
Benefits: instant burst pressure calculations, real-time data generation, non contact 3D scanning, river bottom path, accurate measurement of corroded pipe, no pit gauge, no measurement grid.
By: Claude Tremblay - metrologist
A major manufacturer of recreational products and regular client of Creaform mandated us to validate the new drilling jigs for their new plant located in Mexico. This project included the design and manufacturing of new bodies and covers for jet skis.
Because I had previously done some work for one of our client’s sub-contractors (with a Faro arm) in a metrology room fitted with a large steel reference table dedicated to inspection set-ups, I was able to help our engineering department design the jigs and optimize the use of the HandyPROBE portable CMM for the project’s inspection/quality control phase.
When the location for the QC is just…so wrong!
There was very little time left before the jigs had to be shipped to the new plant in Mexico, so I created the inspection programs “offline” in advance to be ready when I got to the sub-contractor’s place. When I got there, I quickly found out that the space they wanted to put me in for the inspection was not suitable. There was no way I could fit my 2 inspection jigs in there – I needed 12 x 20’ of space for each of them! The project manager showed me a couple of rooms, one of which had an unstable and squicky wooden floor (no, I’m not THAT heavy, but it squicked anyways!). Of course, this was a no-go: the movement created by me walking on the floor would ultimately have caused deformation in the data. At last, he showed me a warehouse right next to their plant, where they stock glassfiber parts. Despite the strong and yucky resin odor, it was still better than being stuck outside!
How I got around
I had to empty the room before adjusting the jigs and starting the photogrammetry with the MaxSHOT 3D optical coordinate measuring system. Thanks to the typical optical referential for each jig, I was able to save a lot of time putting up the primary set-up for each part. No need to probe the 1st alignment, because each jig would position the parts following their respective data based on the drawing. As soon as I put the part on the jig, I was ready to QC the required drawing items.
Based on my previous experience with the other sub-contractor where I had to use a Faro measuring arm to probe, I had roughly estimated to 4.5 hrs the inspection time for each cover, and to about 3 hrs for the body.
The 1st 2 weeks were pretty smooth inspection-wise because the production of the jigs was behind…but the delivery date, on the other hand, did not move a bit! Inspection being at the end of the chain, who do you think got in trouble?
Yes, you got that right.
Maximizing my time…how dynamic measurement helped me!
I had to find a way to save some time…OK, I have 10 parts of each to inspect, and I have 45 hrs available for the covers and another 30 hrs for the bodies. I have less than 2 weeks left, and I can’t be in the warehouse outside of the working hours…What do I do?
I ended up moving the cover jig to the sub-contractor’s wood shop (with great fear of losing my optical referential and having to do it all over again). To my surprise and great relief, my C-Track recognized its referential by me simply aligning the jig’s reference plan! After cleaning up the saw dust from my computer and the C-Track, I was able to resume the inspection!
But I wasn’t out of the woods yet…I found myself looking for my inspection jig for the bodies…just to find out that it has already been wrapped for shipping with the cover jigs…This jig being about 2 times bigger that the cover ones, I was convinced that I would need to redo the photogrammetry…but hat’s off to the jig designer, this jig was well-though! I simply had to align my referential, and I was ready to inspect.
On the very last day of inspection, I had to take time off work, so one of my colleague took over. He had the good idea to ask somebody else to follow him with the C-Track (instead of having to stop inspecting from time to time to move it himself). Thanks to the TRUaccuracy dynamic measurement functionality, he managed to complete the cover inspection in 1.25 hr – which does beat my own personal record of 2 hrs!
I want a rematch!
By: Isabelle Roy
Last week, Quality Digest and the Coordinate Metrology Society joined forces to celebrate the World Metrology Week, that started Monday, May 20th. For the occasion, Creaform contributed a success story on the HandyPROBE portable CMM, that has been published in the Quality Digest Daily on Thursday May 16th.
Copyright: Fédération française de voile. 2011
The story features the France Sailing and Watersports Institute, nice sailing boats…and our HandyPROBE probing system!
This blog is definitely about innovation - about new technologies, new methodologies, new projects and new outcomes.
Through this blog, we will reach to the whole Creaform community and share info about the 3D world – our world.