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  • Machine Calibration

Sep 2008
Teddington, UK -- A measurement system that has the potential to bring laboratory-level standards to the manufacturing floor and to minimize machine downtime has been unveiled by National Physical Laboratory (NPL) and its partner, Etalon AG of Braunschweig, Germany. The Laser Tracer is a high-speed precise mobile system designed for calibration and verification of coordinate measuring machines (CMMs) and computer numerical control machine tools. It employs a stable laser source and NPL’s patented internal design, which is mechanically and thermally decoupled from the tracking mechanism to provide accuracy and stability.

The Laser Tracer system calibrates manufacturing machinery in less than three hours with submicron accuracy. Crown Copyright.

The device can calibrate machines in less than three hours, a significant reduction from the 1 1/2 to two days required by traditional technology. Overall, it increases measurement accuracy and reduces uncertainties, and it can measure instrument performance variations and drift. Its software guides users through the planning, measurement and evaluation processes.

The system requires a short stabilization time and incorporates temperature, pressure and humidity sensors to correct the laser wavelength for atmospheric conditions.

Laser Tracer uses a laser to track a reflector mounted on the machine tool or CMM probe. The system automatically drives the tool during the measurement cycle for the machine test and then guides the user step by step through the testing process. Its internal algorithm ensures self-calibration during the test. Uncertainties of measurement are generated in real time, and a comprehensive test report is produced. Automatic correction of stored error maps is available for many machine types.

The device is designed to meet the requirements of the related standards being developed by the International Organization for Standardization based in Geneva. NPL also can provide technical support in diagnosing and solving problems related to measurement.

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