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A software-driven comparative gauge, Renishaw’s new Equator system, is already starting to soften up the cost for numerous hard gauges at aero-engine component maker Meyer Tool, Cincinnati, Ohio.

Meyer Tool designs, builds and maintains dozens of these costly tools every year for in-process measurement.

In its pre-launch application, one Renishaw Equator gauge has eliminated at least four costly hard gauges in a new work cell.

According to Meyer Tool, custom hard gauges can cost up to $20,000 each to design, build and maintain and, down the line, design changes can add another $3,000-$10,000 to re-configure and qualify an existing gauge.

For in-process dimensional measurement, the company principally relies on work-cell-based point-to-point contact gauges, using pneumatic digital probes.

Hard gauges in the machining cell give very fast feedback but are expensive.

Design/build of the part nest can cost $6,000, in addition to probes at $500 each, verification studies and maintenance.

‘If we are producing a make-complete nozzle, there could be six to ten fixtures, each with six to twenty probes, and if a feature or tolerance on the part changes, it adds time for the gauge to be altered and verified,’ said Beau Easton, quality manager at Meyer Tool.

Meyer Tools was shown Renishaw’s Equator comparative gauge and offered a pre-launch trial.

The company provided parts, Renishaw programmed them and the results matched Meyer Tools’ Coordinate Measuring Machine (CMM) results.

The Equator system uses the comparison method of mastering and measuring familiar to anyone who uses dedicated gauging systems.

A master component with features of known dimensions is used to ‘zero’ the system, with all subsequent measurements compared to this part.

The key to the Equator system is a highly repeatable and radically different metrology mechanism based on a parallel kinematic structure.

This mechanism is lightweight, allowing rapid motion, yet very stiff and repeatable.

The system uses Renishaw touch and scanning probes, styli and stylus change racks and Modus Equator programming software.

Cost-wise, three to five hard gauges in a Meyer Tool work cell can all be replaced by one Equator – and the Equator can be used for multiple parts, switching between them in seconds, as well as be reprogrammed for many other parts over its life.

The Equator system is currently assigned to a lean machining cell in Meyer Tool’s shop.

It integrates with Meyer’s Orion SPC system, maintaining a familiar look for machinists and shortening the learning curve.

Orion communicates with the Equator’s Modus software, presenting the operator with results in the form of dimensional data and SPC charts that allow the operator to determine CNC.

The machinist sees variable data and can compare the current part with recent measurements, so it’s not just a pass/fail determination.

The parts must meet tolerances of +/-0.001 to +/-0.003in.

Inspection time varies with the part but typically takes two to six minutes, well within the TAKT time of the cell, so the system easily keeps pace with machining operations.

The Equator measurements at Meyer Tool are correlated with those from a CMM, using a CMM-calibrated master part.

The master part sets the values that the Equator expects to find inside its measuring envelope, while the software automatically applies the compensation values from nominal taken by the CMM.

It must check within 10 per cent of allowable tolerance from nominal.

There is no need to re-master on every part change, but Meyer have decided to re-master on a three-hour schedule to compensate for changes in the plant’s temperature.

The Equator system memorises the master parts and validation scores, so Meyer Tools can switch parts as many times as needed during the three-hour window, and not have to re-master.

Meyer Tool is a US-based producer of hot-section jet engine components for aerospace OEMs, employing more than 1,000 at ten locations.

The Cincinnati headquarters specialises in new parts, while some other Meyer facilities do repair and overhaul for the OEMs.

Principal workpiece materials are super alloys, nickel and cobalt-chromium based.

With nearly 500 fast-hole EDM drillers, Meyer Tool is one of North America’s largest EDM-based manufacturers.


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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