Itaca takes an integrated approach to CMM process metrology
November 2014–Dr Guglielmo Raho, an Italian gauge industry veteran with an impressive list of patents to his name spoke about how Itaca changed the CMM industry. Now President of the Itaca division at QVI, Guglielmo gives his insights into the metrology needs of manufacturers.
Q1. How can integration help in metrology?
Historically it is not Production’s job to check the accuracy of parts they are producing. This role is largely with the Quality people who run the sophisticated gauge equipment in a laboratory away from the factory floor. Typically, the Production people bring prototype parts to the quality room for measurement, wait for results, make adjustments, and repeat the process until the process is calibrated. This lengthy approach can take a few days before production starts.
To overcome this delay, dedicated gauges were set up near the machine tools. Hard gauges can be complex, expensive and take up valuable floor space. When part designs change even slightly, the gauges must also be modified or replaced.
Q2. Was this how Itaca entered the market?
Yes, our idea is to bring flexible metrology into the hands of production that will offset the need to rely exclusively on the “special”CMM in the Metrology Lab.
Hence we entered the market with a flexible gauge measuring machine that is a structure on the production floor and not too costly. Our system brings high accuracy similar to the quality room and yet able to withstand the difficult conditions on the production floor such as high temperature and vibrations.
Q3. What makes Itaca different from other CMM solutions?
We are well known as offering turnkey CMM solutions particularly in “dirty” production environments. “Dirty” because you have to understand the customer’s process, its problems and how to solve them in order to integrate flexible gauges in production. Not many CMM suppliers want to be so closely involved.
We are prepared to go into such production integration by addressing the needs of the customers, study the environment, understand the accuracy needed and build it to meet the tolerance levels. This frees the production people from reliance on the quality room.
Q4. “Turnkey solutions”?
Hard gauges are expensive and typically measure only one part. Change is happening in the world where gauges are becoming more complex and expensive. In comparison, our FlexGauge solutions cost less and can measure a range of parts.
We also know production people have no interest in becoming CMM programmers. They simply want a measuring machine that calibrates automatically and works from the first day. So we make our FlexGauges easy to operate with application programs built inside.
Our concept is based on “bricks” or building blocks – that we can combine in different configurations to meet customers’ unique needs. We play in the market where customers’ tolerance needs are less than 50 microns. This includes the field of mechanics generally such as machine parts, turbine, transmission tools, prosthetics, balls and ball bearing rings.
Our modular solution is competitive as we combine the bricks based on 3D CMM technology and make it flexible for our customers. We can vary the machine size based on customer’s requirements; for example if you are only measuring parts less than 1 m, our machine is 1m x 1m and it can sit on the table easily without occupying too much space. For larger parts, the design can be extended without sacrificing performance.
Q5. What is your future plan for Itaca?
We have had a technical partnership with QVI for several years now, and two months ago, QVI made a financial investment in Itaca and is distributing our FlexGauge systems worldwide. Our tactile and scanning probe 3D technology combined with OGP’s multisensor strengths in 2D/3D and optical metrology will help us to be a global player and expand into new fields. You will definitely be hearing more from us.