K-Form saw plenty of opportunities for improvement while attending IMTS 2012. We were particularly impressed by the portable CMM technologies. In December, K-Form purchased a FARO Edge Portable CMM Arm with laser scanning to alleviate an inspection bottleneck, improve reporting capabilities, and support our customers with evolving engineering environments.
K-Form manufactures small quantities of precision machined parts. This business places a high-demand on inspection. 5-axis milling makes this problem worse by sending substantially more complex parts (more sides, more features) to quality control. Our lean improvements standardize programming, fixturing, and tooling in the machining process. These improvements reduce setup and changeover times but contribute to the inspection bottleneck by pushing more first articles to quality control. The FARO CMM Arm reduces inspection times and increases inspection accuracy over hand tools (calipers, mics, etc). We need fewer tools to check the same machined part (and no calculator means less error). Each measurement takes only a moment.
The FARO CMM Arm handles difficult inspection geometry. 3D CAD systems, like SolidWorks, allow engineers to create complex geometry with never-before ease. K-Form makes these designs reality through advances in CAM and process technologies. Without the FARO CMM Arm, free-form surfaces and GD&T call outs are difficult and time-consuming to verify. The laser scanning feature inspections surfaced geometry directly to the 3D model. The touch probe provides Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerances (GD&T) information like concentricity, flatness, and parallelism without a hassle. For our Aerospace industry customers, these features are enhanced by robust reporting capabilities.
The FARO CMM Arm plays a critical role supporting customers that use reduced dimension drawings and model-based engineering (MBE). The emerging standard processes around MBE save engineering teams significant time (less time making and checking drawings) and eliminate drawing/model conflicts. Although CAM natively programs using the model, inspecting a machined part without a dimensioned drawing is a new challenge. K-Form now inspects precision machined parts directly to customer provided 3D models using the FARO Arm. This creates a complete digital manufacturing environment ready for MBE.
Although K-Form just started using the FARO CMM Arm, the initial results are very positive. We have hopes that, through a more practiced use and customer collaboration, we will realize even greater benefits.