Benefits of Shaft Measuring Systems
Shaft Measuring Systems – The Specialist Solution for Turned Components
Shaft measurement systems have a lot of competition, such as handheld gauges and co-ordinate measuring machines (CMMs). Handheld gauges do not offer the advantages that shaft measurement systems do. Dedicated shaft measurement machines enable a greater degree of accuracy through reduced operator intervention and increased efficiency through carrying out a number of checks with a single setup and scan.
In comparison to CMMs, who are a serious contender with shaft measurement systems for high-volume applications such as is seen within the automotive industry, shaft measurement systems are generally faster than other measurement methods.
Co-ordinate measurement machines are usually located in dedicated measurement facilities or labs, while shaft measurement systems are designed specifically to withstand the rigours of the shop floor environment, often providing a direct feedback to production machines. This link between machines in conjunction with faster measurement speeds results in a significant increase in both the features and parts that can be inspected during a single production run, ultimately maximising in-process control.
While CMMs are extremely flexible in their measurement capability, shaft measurement offers a specialist solution for turned components by operating in the same 2D axis of motion as the lathes used to make shafts, whereas CMMs operate within a 3D Cartesian envelope. Meaning shaft measurement solutions are designed with the compatible geometry needed to optimise tool data collection and provide improved integrity and repeatability.
Due to intricate nature of shafts, programming optical shaft measuring systems can be intuitive, allowing for seamless integration, ease of operation and maintenance.
Types of Shaft Measurement
There are three varying types of shaft measurement available and currently in use. The first is a collection of handheld gauges, often mounted to a mechanised fixture to simultaneously engage and support a number of dimensional checks. While these tools offer enhanced economy, as well as speed of measurement for specific applications, it is almost impossible to adapt them to new shaft measurement tasks.
Manufacturers in need of a more flexible measurement solution often look to invest in the second type of shaft measurement machine available. A more generalised version of the higher-end optical systems, is the manually operated system consisting of a series of measuring tools mounted on a precision bed next to a lathe-like part mounting assembly, with a computer interface for electronic data capture.
These measurement systems, dependant on the configuration, offer a solution for a number of basic measurement tasks, including length, diameter, run-out and axial run-out, as well as the ability to collect complex measurements such as distance, width of recesses, depth, diameter of recesses, roundness, taper, angle, radius, intersection point and position of cross holes.
An ideal option for smaller manufacturers who may produce a wide variety of parts in shorter runs, whilst requiring flexibility and simplicity in their measurement processes. Typically a single machine would measure crankshafts, camshafts, gear shafts, toothed racks, outer races, hollow shafts, drive shafts and control pistons, providing a multitude of measurement capabilities in one system. These machines are generally easy to use, can be integrated into shop floor environments and acquired on a modular basis, readily configured for different parts and do not need recalibrating between different part measurement.
The final and most efficient shaft measurement machine is a fully automated, optical and non-contact measurement system, specifically designed to facilitate precision control of complex turned components. These all-in-one advanced optical solutions are able to operate within the production environment, and in a matter of seconds at the touch of a button. This type of system allows for the accurate measurement of intricate turned parts without human error, by avoiding operator intervention during the measurement process. The reduction of operator influence coupled with graphic interfaces and intuitive software allows for simplified programming and use.
As the demand for increasingly smaller part features and tighter tolerances continues to grow, so too will the demand for these non-contact, non-destructive shaft measurement machines. The use of high-resolution, matrix array or CCD cameras has been introduced and put to use recently alongside advanced computer processing technology. These systems can conduct measurement routines from a single image and a higher resolution offers increased accuracy in part data collection, as well as recording much smaller features than the calculated image of a line scan.
At VICIVISION our shaft measuring systems work by rotating the part while the light source is projected onto the component, creating a shadow composition of the object, from which directly opposite a video camera captures the smallest details through a telecentric lens. This measurement takes between 30-60 seconds, eliminates human error, and generates a process of automatic data collection. Compared to conventional measurement methods where it would take up to 30 minutes and could contain human error VICIVISION optical measurement systems are an effective solution in reducing downtime and increasing precision in measurement data.