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Future AM specialises in precision engineering for clients in the medical, aeronautical, space and oil-field exploration sectors – industries that require ongoing research, development and testing.

The company has developed a particular expertise in the aerospace industry, gaining AS9100 certification towards the end of 2009 for its capabilities in producing high-complexity components and assemblies for aerospace applications.

A designer and manufacturer of aerodynamic models used in wind-tunnel tests, Future AM won its first significant contract in the US in early 2010.

This required making Titanium blades for a new propulsion system, which required a very stringent validation process.

The company’s existing metrology tools were not up to the job, so it turned to Renishaw’s Revo five-axis system for help.

Revo is a dynamic new measuring head and probe system, designed to maximise the throughput of new and existing coordinate-measuring machines (CMMs) by providing greater accuracy, faster measurement, more automation and new capabilities.

It uses synchronised motion and Renscan5 measurement technology to minimise the dynamic effects of CMM motion at ultra-high speeds.

It also uses Renishaw’s Modus software, which works with standard industry-programming languages, to take full advantage of CAD-driven programming.

Future AM chose Renishaw’s Revo and Modus package because it was developing a Digital Product Definition (DPD) cycle, based on the secure transfer of data using Dassault Systemes’ Catia.

This allows the company to share information, including CAD files, with customers and suppliers quickly and safely.

Modus can pick up and directly interrogate the Catia V5 files, so that the user knows they are working on the same CAD throughout the production process.

In addition, Future AM was able to retro-fit the Revo head to its existing CMM, which sped up the installation.

At first, because of the tight project timings, Future AM used a Revo at Renishaw’s facility in Gloucestershire to validate the work while the company had its own system installed.

Due to Renishaw’s help, Future AM succeeded in getting every blade out on time, on budget and with no rejections.

As a result, its US client is considering offering the company further work.

Investing in the Revo and Modus systems has paid dividends in other areas of the business as well.

According to Future AM, it has improved the company’s metrology department’s final validation service by 80 per cent.

For example, to validate work on a high-precision imaging drum for the customer Highwater Products could take an hour on the old machine.

In contrast, the Revo takes about 10 minutes.

The Modus software has improved the accuracy of post-machining operation, due to the level of detail in its reports.

This improvement in efficiency and accuracy has enabled the company to offer reverse engineering services, meaning it can now make items that are presented to the company pre-CAD.

First, Future AM’s engineers laser scan the component and turn the data into a point cloud, which they run through Solidworks and Visi Reverse software to create a virtual 3D surface.

They then use the Revo to compare the new virtual surface with the original part, to validate possible engineering processes before making the cloned parts.

According to the company, the final surprise development has been a surge in demand from clients using Future AM as a sub-contractor for final inspection and validation, even when it hasn’t been involved in making the original products.

Future AM has had the Revo/Modus system for a few months but, due to word of mouth, its existing clients are already aware that the company now offers a comprehensive ISO 9001:2008- or AS9100-certified service.

Renishaw

A world leader in engineering technologies, Renishaw’s core skills in measurement and precision machining serve sectors as diverse as dimensional metrology, spectroscopy, machine calibration, motion control, dentistry and surgical robotics.

A world leader in engineering technologies, Renishaw’s core skills in measurement and precision machining serve sectors as diverse as dimensional metrology, spectroscopy, machine calibration, motion control, dentistry and surgical robotics.

Sensors for co-ordinate measuring machines (CMMs) are an industry standard, from basic touch-trigger probes through to automated stylus and probe changers, motorised indexing probe heads, and revolutionary five-axis measurement systems.

Machine probes for CNC machine tools allow automated tool setting, workpiece set-up, in-cycle gauging and part inspection. Products include laser tool setters, contact tool setters, tool breakage detectors, touch probes and high accuracy inspection probes.

For motion control, Renishaw supplies laser encoders, optical linear encoders, optical angle encoders, optical rotary encoders, magnetic rotary encoders, magnetic chip encoders and magnetic linear encoders.

To analyse the static and dynamic performance of position-critical motion systems, Renishaw’s laser interferometer and environmental compensation system offers a linear measurement accuracy of 0.5 ppm, readings of up to 50 kHz and a linear measurement speed of up to 4 m/s, with a linear resolution of 1nm.

Renishaw’s Raman spectroscopy products exploit the Raman effect to identify and characterise the chemistry and structure of materials. A diverse range of analytical applications include pharmaceutical, forensic science, nanotechnology, biomedical and semiconductors.

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