Towards the end of the 20th century, there were some seismic shifts in the world of global manufacturing. The dominance of Western factories was suddenly challenged, something that was once unthinkable.

But globalization unleashed a wave of competition from factories located in countries which had cheaper labor and fewer regulations. North American manufacturing might have disappeared altogether, but automation helped it fight back.

Machine labour replacing human labour — commonly known as “automation” — made production lines perform with greater efficiency than human employees ever could have, and with better results.

A coordinate measuring machine, or CMM machine, is one of the star pieces of equipment when it comes to bringing automation to factories. CMM machines can measure the physical geometrical characteristics of an object via a human operator or a computer program.

Here is a brief look at four of the most common CMM machines found on factory floors across the continent.

  1. Portable CMMs

The most famous portable CMM is the ROMER Arm, and it’s a truly versatile machine. ROMER Arms can perform quality control, inspection, virtual assembly, on-machine verification, and also 3D modelling.

They can also reverse engineer blueprints from parts which already exist. These rugged yet accurate machines have a portable arm which swings around whatever is being scanned, so as to measure every facet of the object.

Inspection can be conducted right from the shop floor because of its integrated scanning system. White lights or laser CMM systems collect thousands of data points each second.

  1. Bridge CMMs

Bridge CMMs have been the most common form of metrology equipment since the 1970s, and for good reason. Bridge CMMs are used by many industries because they’re able to handle many part sizes.

They’re precise, reliable machines that also come at an attractive price point. No wonder they’re so beloved in factories across the continent today.

  1. Gantry CMMs

Gantry CMMs are just like Bridge CMMs, only they’re for much larger parts or objects. They’re common in the automotive and aerospace industries, helping to build parts for cars and spaceships.

Parts can be loaded by either forklift or crane because there’s open access to the Gantry’s measuring volume. Because the drive systems and guideways are located safely away from contaminants and dirt, they’re low maintenance machines.

  1. Vision and Multisensor System

When a part or object is too small or delicate to be measured accurately through physical contact or a tactile probe, a Vision and Multisensor System is required. These machines have video scanners and white light scanners which can measure parts less than 600 millimetres squared in area, and below 200 millimetres tall.

Naturally, the above is only a cursory look at complex equipment. You must get the CMM machine which best meets all your needs, and suits the nature of your industry and product. Talk to an expert metrologist for further information about this equipment, and don’t forget to ask about all of the advanced software guiding these machines into the future.