We recently finished a project here at 3D Engineering that used scanning technology to verify the accuracy of plastic injection molded refrigerator parts. In one sense, this is nothing unusual; we frequently using scanning to verify part accuracy. Most companies, however, still use a fixed based Coordinate Measuring Machine (CMM) to conduct part verification. CMM technology captures hundreds of data points, but scanning collects millions of data points, allowing us to gain much greater qualitative and quantitative information. Because we have the equipment and the knowledge to implement scanning, we now use this leading metrology technology for most inspection projects, including First Article Inspections (FAIs) and Production Part Approval Processes (PPAPs).
Scanning is superior to the previous technology for many reasons. Scanning allows inspectors to ascertain a more realistic image of the parts in question and do so in a shorter amount of time than CMM probing. Also, the increased qualitative information scanning provides allows design and manufacturing engineers to improve part appearance and function. A higher level of quantitative data is also possible through scanning. A fixed CMM only provides a simple number—and that is only a small sampling of the feature measured, which could misrepresent the actual feature size or characteristic. With scanning, one can saturate all of the surfaces with millions of data points and avert common issues caused by simple CMM probing.