A coordinate measuring machine is a significant purchase for any shop, whether it’s new or used, manual or automatic, a convenient portable arm or a gantry-style machine with a large footprint. That’s why maintenance, repairs, and retrofits should be factored into your plan and your budget before you make the purchase. Having a reliable, independent metrology solutions provider will go a long way toward making sure your new investment is reliably maintained and calibrated.
Building a relationship with a single metrology solutions provider often means better care and maintenance, as well as superior advice when it comes to keeping your coordinate measuring machine up to date and performing optimally. Before you invest in a coordinate measuring machine, it can help to find out where your metrology solutions provider can offer repair services. For example, metrology firms like Canadian Measurement Metrology offer service across North America, in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, while others are expanding into the APAC region to service a booming Asian market. A good metrology firm will quickly dispatch a technician to come to your shop and identify and repair the issue with your coordinate measuring machine.
Breakdowns are a costly and time consuming event that can jeopardize your shop’s reputation, so while it’s important to have CMM repair and calibration services on speed dial, it’s even more important to keep up routine maintenance. How often you have your machine calibrated should depend on how heavily you use it and how precise your measurements need to be. For example, a ROMER portable arm should be calibrated at least every year, while if you use it heavily, transport it frequently, or require higher accuracy standards, every 6 months may be ideal. Plan ahead for calibration services, as it can take several days to put it through the necessary tests.
What do these tests look like? Here’s how metrology solutions provider CMM tests a ROMER portable arm:
- Single point test: tests the state of the wrists of the portable arm as well as the encoders
- Volumetric test (AKA ball bar test): measures the length of the ball bar in different positions within the volume of the portable arm
Finally, consider the importance of retrofits, as a coordinate measuring machine will be mechanically reliable and accurate for decades with the right maintenance. However, as metrology technology advances, inspection requirements become stricter, and your product line changes, you may need to make periodic improvements and retrofits. Some of the most valuable retrofits you can implement on a machine involve updating your machine’s accuracy to today’s standards, speeding up the machine’s ability to collect data points, and increasing its measuring volume.
Besides these common retrofits, software and computer updates are also needed every 5 to 10 years to keep up with current standards. Software tends to change more rapidly than other aspects of metrology and you can see some real gains in efficiency by staying up to date. Talk to your metrology solutions provider and find out whether or not you’re using an obsolete software and how you can update it.