3D Metrology: An Overview of a Smart and Intelligent Measurer
Today, special emphasis is laid on decreasing human intervention in manufacturing processes, as far as possible. Also, there is a focus on making and developing smarter machines, who will not only perform their designated role accurately, but will also simplify the processes. 3D metrology is one such technology, which not only defines and measures dimensions of components of a product correctly, it even simplifies the manufacturing processes.
Manufacturing of any product is a long and elaborate process. Various stakeholders and equipment are engaged and multiple procedures and operations take place to transform a designed product into a manufactured one. Each of the involved operations such as designing, casting, molding, etc. involve further subprocesses, some of which are very specific to the product that is being manufactured. Different products will, thus, require different processes, although some overarching operations or procedures will resemble. One such operation or process that is common for all or any manufacturing activity is of measurement. In fact, measurement is so crucial and such an overarching concept, that each stage of manufacturing processes and every manufacturing management study, requires accurate measurements of the concerned product or component. An accurate and reliable measuring technique, thus, becomes a prerequisite for any manufacturing process or manufacturing management study.
Over time, measurement techniques have evolved to match the evolving manufacturing and designing processes. Today, techniques like 3D metrology have emerged which provide accurate and reliable measurements of any concerned product or any component of that product.
Though the name metrology gives out a feeling of something dealing with atmosphere or temperature, it is not the case. Metrology is basically science of measurement. Thus, 3D metrology is nothing but scientific study of physical measurement, wherein a coordinate measuring machine (CMM) is used to capture the length, breadth, and height (x, y, z coordinates) of an object, and thus define its real dimensions.
An average 3D metrology system creates a complete 3D representation of the component and measures each dimension using the principle of triangulation to give out the real dimensions of the component. For that, it uses structured blue light and a camera offering stereoscopic visual imaging, to measure and define any component precisely. Though, this structured blue light can be replaced with green or even white color, blue color light is generally selected because filtering out of unwanted ambient lighting becomes easier.
What are the Advantages of 3D Metrology?
As per Research Dive market analysis, the global 3D metrology market is predicted to grow at stunning CAGR of 7.8% within the 2021-2028 timeframe. This growth is mainly due to the advantages the 3D metrology system provides. It offers measuring techniques which are far more precise and accurate than the traditional measurement techniques, mainly because of its working pattern. 3D metrology through its scanner generates numerous data points which cover the whole component in a much better and holistic way than other measuring systems. Moreover, this system can measure components of a product or the whole product itself, while it is getting manufactured. This is an extremely important advantage, because it allows the quality control department of any organization to verify and check whether all pre-defined measurements are adhered to or not, during manufacturing. Also, while designing any product, the designing team provides measurements so as to give an overall idea to the manufacturing team about the product. However, these measurements can be temporary, called as nominal measurements. 3D metrology system, while manufacturing, takes real measurements and compares them with the nominal measurements, thus providing a valuable insight and feedback. Lastly, despite providing all these advantages, 3D metrology systems are cheaper than traditional CMMs.
The Future of 3D Metrology
3D Metrology systems are becoming smarter day-by-day to better their accuracy and precision at measuring components and products. A new range of 3D scanning is driving this new development. Another on-going research and development is regarding fixing errors during manufacturing processes. As stated earlier, a 3D metrology system offers technology to measure the dimensions of components while they are being manufactured. Hence, systems are being developed so as to spot and fix the errors in measurements of a component, if any. This will not only save time and resources but will also save duplication of errors in faulty manufactured components. Thus, integration of current manufacturing processes and operations with such “smart” 3D metrology systems is sure to become the backbone of manufacturing industry in the future.
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