Quality Inspection and the CAD Connection
By Ernie Husted.
Modern manufacturing is rapidly adopting model-based definition (MBD). When employing an MBD strategy, the CAD model becomes more than the nominal to which all parts are measured and compared to. MBD keeps the all-important digital thread intact – from design to manufacturing to inspection and quality reporting. Everything that defines the part exists in a single digital archive, including how to manufacture and inspect the part. Comprehensive deployment of MBD in manufacturing can go far beyond this to complete Product Lifecycle Management (PLM).
The Role of Inspection Software – Quality inspection and reporting used to be a disparate process isolated in a quality lab. Today it is much more integrated with the production floor through in-process inspection.
Everything that defines the part exists in a single digital archive, including how to manufacture and inspect the part.
This starts with the deployment of an enterprise-level inspection software application and extends to all coordinate measuring machines (CMMs) and accessories. Today’s inspection software solutions must be capable of serving the entire manufacturing enterprise. In order to maintain the digital thread, software must be rooted in CAD and have the ability to import from, manipulate, annotate, model, inspect against, and export to virtually any CAD file format. At the end of the day, it is the job of inspection software to align and compare the nominal CAD model with measured points collected from the finished part, whether that includes a relatively small number of manually triggered contact points, or non-contact scanned point cloud data containing millions of points.
Using enterprise-level inspection software will provide the manufacturing enterprise with operational consistency, reporting quality, data management, and reduced training and support costs. Be sure the enterprise inspection software you select is open and offers the necessary level of interoperability to support your current and future manufacturing inspection requirements:
- Is the inspection software based on a CAD platform, including 3D modeling?
- Does it import and export all CAD files and models seamlessly?
- Will it import and allow annotation of GD&T data?
- Does it accept measurement data from all digital measuring devices?
- Is the software capable of controlling all popular digital measuring devices?
- Does it have the flexibility and embedded tools to handle the range of inspection data, from manual contact probing to non-contact point clouds?
CMMs, Portable CMMs, Probes, and 3D Scanners
Once you have established your enterprise inspection software it is important to ensure that all planned-use digital measuring devices support open-system, non-proprietary controls, and communication protocols. Virtually all portable CMMs and 3D scanners in use today are open, however, many of the older and larger fixed CMMs still have closed proprietary controls and communication protocols. So do your homework. Open protocols like I++ DME provide integration with otherwise closed systems, but once again it requires research to know whether or not it is available on your fixed CMM.
Whether your application calls for fixed or portable CMMs, contact probing or non-contact scanning, it is important to remember, each component in the inspection value chain must work together, seamlessly and as a whole, to validate and report a finished part against the original design intent. All while maintaining the digital thread.
In doing so a virtual legacy part is preserved for future use and reference and the all-important digital thread remains intact – from design to manufacturing, to inspection and quality reporting.
Verisurf Software, Inc.
Verisurf Software, Inc. is an advanced three-dimensional measurement solutions company committed to delivering advanced computer-aided inspection and reverse engineering solutions. Verisurf software helps manufacturers of all sizes and industries produce higher quality products in less time and at a lower cost with automated, Model-Based Inspection processes. For more information, visit the Verisurf website at https://verisurf.com.