Inspection, Measurement, and Quality Control

Posted 2 years 190 days ago ago by Jake Thomas

3D Scanners Show Industrial Automation Potential

Quality control is a huge deal in manufacturing. It’s a process ensuring customers receive products free from defects and that meet their needs. When it’s done inconsistently, incorrectly, or not at all it can put consumers at risk and reflects badly on suppliers.Metrology-based automated inspection systems remove operator subjectivity and add to consistent, reliable inspection outcomes.

Inspection is a crucial part of ensuring quality, whereby a physical product is visually examined and measured for any defects such as cracks, blemishes, or irregularities. This essential part of the manufacturing process is also labor intensive and time consuming, not to mention runs the unavoidable risks of human error and eventual fatigue.

That’s where metrology comes in. Metrology, as defined by the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM), is “the science of measurement, embracing both experimental and theoretical determinations at any level of uncertainty in any field of science and technology.”

Metrology helps ensure the consistency of product measurements during inspection. Automated inspection essentially grades against a gauge, or master part, representing the target specifications to which all sequential parts are to be made. Devices and systems that remove operator subjectivity can be key to consistent, reliable inspection outcomes.

Creaform, a Canada-based company specializing in portable 3D measurement, has developed a robot-mounted optical coordinate measuring machine (CMM), the MetraSCAN 3D R-Series. This particular (CMM) uses 3D scanning to accurately inspect a component almost down to the micron (0.064 mm).

When paired with industrial robots, 3D scanners can increase the reliability, speed, and versatility of on-line inspection and quality control.When paired with industrial robots, the MetraSCAN 3D R-Series increases the reliability, speed and versatility of on-line inspection and quality control (QC) processes, according to the company’s website. It is also reputed to be able to take 480,000 measurements per second.

FARO Technologies Inc. has its own non-contact scanner combining blue LED light projection technology, stereo cameras and on-board processing—an industry first, according to the company. That enables the FARO Cobalt Array 3D Imager to collect and calculate accurate point-cloud data, which ensures consistency and speed and makes for simple integration into manufacturing processes.

Thor3D in August 2015 released its own portable, hand-held scanner with a built-in CPU. The Drake also allows for real-time visual analysis that can be transferred to a PC via WiFi or USB, allowing for expedited workflow. It, like Creaform’s scanner, comes with its own software but, also comes equipped with interchangeable heads for scanning objects of varying sizes.

This relatively new and innovative approach to quality control brings with it several advantages over traditional methods, including:

Real-time information. It takes time to collect and distribute information throughout an organization. Automated inspection and measurement systems can mean data in a much shorter timeframe than the traditional manual approach.

Traceability. Having recorded data complete with timestamps can help troubleshoot should a customer call with an issue. Being able to pinpoint anomalies in the process using CAD-based data increases accountability and adds to overall kaizen.

Consistency. CAD profiles are often used in reverse engineering a “golden part” that is then meshed with the original CAD print to generate a model. That model will then provide consistent comparisons of the actual part to be inspected.


The use of metrology-based automated inspection systems is likely to be further integrated into the manufacturing process. Solutions Technology Group is monitoring the development of this technology and studying its applications.

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