COVID 19 has literally shut down a majority of the world’s production. As we have talked with our customers over this time, we have found that many have reduced their workforce or have implemented rolling furloughs. The problem is that once you let that skilled person go, they may actually find other work before you can hire them back. So, all of the training that was invested in them is gone. This seems especially true of Quality staff. During each normal business cycle and when things get tight, the quality staff is the first to be reduced. A new staff is then later brought on once the cycle has completed with the requisite experience or they are slowly trained up to a proficient level. This is logically the case as production requirements are lower during these cycles and removing production personnel would immediately and directly hamper the ability to generate revenue.
If we lived in a perfect world the parts you manufacture and the gages used to check them would both be exactly to nominal specifications. At that point a gage would be obsolete and so too would be the metrologist, but we all know that this world is far from perfect and that the best we can ever do in the study of measurements is to provide our best estimate of where the actual value lies along with a provision of uncertainty of measurement that can be traced all the way back to the international system of units.
3D Engineering Solutions has expertise in inspection and reverse engineering for many different applications. We combine the best available equipment and a well trained staff to deliver correct results in a rapid manner.
For PCB’s, we use the Nikon X-Tek 160kV Industrial CT Scanner which is designed to meet every need related to the inspection of PCB’s. It provides up to 160kV and 20W power, a 1µm X-ray focal spot size, and a magnification range of 2x-600x. The detector can also tilt to a max angle of 75° which provides extra flexibility in examining multi-layer boards.
First Article Inspections (FAI) are used to ensure that parts off of new or modified tooling or processes conform to the part design requirements. This even includes changing the location of manufacture! Yes – this can make a difference sometimes (usually due to different equipment, the same equipment setup slightly differently, environmental conditions, different manufacturing standards, etc). This includes any time the Form, Fit, or Function could be impacted.
Fully defining large assemblies can be a daunting task. It is a task that cannot be ignored, as a well-defined assembly drawing is necessary to properly convey critical details. Manually labeling everything in an assembly drawing can take days and it is very easy for not all the detail to be captured. A solution to this is to add a Bill of Materials or BOM to the drawing. Modern CAD software (Like SolidWorks – shown in the images below) all have automated means to generate BOMs. This helps automate the process, reduce chances for error and allows for automatic updates as assemblies change.
Radiographic testing is a widely accepted method for finding voids and defects in materials. Makers of castings and solder connections on printed circuit boards have used radiographic testing to detect voids in 2D images and Computed Tomography (CT) in 3D images with excellent results that are well documented. As CT scanning continues to evolve and emerge as the inspection method of choice new challenges arise. Many times customers are unaware of the difference and apply old specifications on their drawings that may no longer apply. Or they do not know the full capabilities of the newer technologies or have not yet defined the specifications for their application.
Industrial CT scanning has gained prominence in dimensional data collection technologies with the advent and continual development of additive manufacturing. Now, CT scanning processes are being added to ISO17025 scopes of accreditation and the emergence of Metrology based CT is gaining recognition and acceptance across many industries.
Your Molds and Dies are critical to your business. They were meticulously created and iteratively tuned until the parts they produce are within specification. At that point, they were put into production and no documentation of the final tuned geometry was captured. This is actually the standard operating procedure for most of the world. The problem occurs when a part gets stuck and the equipment is cycled again and the tool cracks! Now you are stuck with having to go through the entire tuning process again. Or are you? With laser scanning and structured light scanning you may be in luck.
Many measurement and reverse engineering requirements require more than simple caliper or micrometer measurements. Whether you are conducting a First Article Inspection (FAI), troubleshooting a manufacturing issue or reverse engineering a legacy part for improvements, one or multiple of the modern data collection methods may work – but what is best and what are you compromising on by using any particular method? Do you do this work yourself or hire out an experienced service provider?
Contact measurement devices constitute the majority of what is traditionally used for dimensional metrology. These consist of devices that must be in physical contact with the object to be measured. Below is a listing of general types of contact measurement devices. This covers the vast majority of what is used today and is a good overview on what is possible and what to expect from data taken with these instruments. We freely use these types of devices in our service business where it makes sense for any particular project due to quality, cost and timing.