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Tods Aerospace has invested in a CMS five-axis router, a Renishaw RMP600 wireless touch probe and OMV Pro measurement software to help it bring more manufacturing capability in-house.

Tods specialises in the design and built of lightweight structures in composite materials, providing solutions for demanding aerospace and defence applications.

It is a silver supplier to aerospace manufacturer Agustawestland.

One of the largest Agustawestland projects that Tods has supported in recent years is the AW159 Lynx Wildcat – the next generation of Lynx helicopter being supplied to the UK navy and army.

The company has been involved in the co-design and manufacture of several major component parts for the aircraft, including the cockpit doors, the cargo doors and many of the main fuselage panels, all of which are made from carbon composite.

Richard Winterbottom, operations director at Tods, said: ‘Three years ago we invested in a five-axis CMS router so we could machine these components and other tooling in our own factory.

‘Around the same time we were also bidding for increasingly complex five-axis work.

‘Our strategy is to bring more manufacturing capability in-house so we can be more agile and keep better control of lead times and quality.

‘This is particularly important during the early phases of new product introduction,’ he added.

A year later, the company employed CNC manager Bob Young, initially as CNC programmer.

‘Prior to that, we were only using the machine’s basic capabilities,’ Winterbottom said.

Young had been with the company a year when manufacturing put together a proposal for a Renishaw RMP600 wireless touch probe and OMV Pro software.

The RMP600 is a compact touch probe that incorporates Renishaw’s Renegage high-accuracy strain-gauge technology and uses proven frequency hopping spread spectrum (FHSS) radio signal transmission.

It offers all the usual benefits of Renishaw touch probes, including the ability to measure complex 3D part geometries on all sizes of machining centres.

Young said: ‘One of the key reasons for purchasing the probe was to align the AW159 cabin roof and then machine it.

‘This has proven successful and we are now producing our own CMM reports generated from the use of the Renishaw OMV software and the RMP600 probe.

‘Without the probe we would not have been able to machine the roof as accurately and we could not have aligned the jigs with such precision,’ he added.

Tods now supplies a total of 126 components for the AW159, which will be required at the rate of one set (aircraft) a month.

Young said: ‘We also use the Renishaw probe for first article inspection (FAI) on every new civil aircraft flooring project.

‘For example, we currently have a project where a batch of machined components needs to go back on the CMS router as the customer has made a modification.

‘We will use the probe to re-align the component prior to machining the additional feature,’ he added.

Young said that the RMP600 allows the company to take on more complex work and produce parts at the required high quality faster than before.

He said: ‘We still feel that we are in the early stages of getting to know the probe’s capabilities, but we are very happy with the accuracy and, in particular, the consequent reduction in scrap parts further down the production line.

‘These are large, expensive components and we can use the probe to identify and avoid errors while we are still at the research and development stage,’ he added.

Although Tods Aerospace is not the design authority, it contributes to the development of AW159 parts.

The customer sends the company the space envelope for a CAD model, along with the design specification.

‘Our objective is usually to make a more simple assembly from fewer parts to give better longevity, easier maintenance and overall lower lifetime cost,’ said Peter Eckersall, engineering director at Tods.

The company aims to provide a better overall solution.

When it receives a CAD model, it takes a close look and works out a plan to machine the tooling.

Once the company has the first finished part, it writes a program for the Renishaw probe to check that all of the holes and features meet the specified tolerances.

‘Digital manufacture and design has given different sorts of tolerances and different features, which using traditional measuring equipment, such as micrometers and vernier calipers, does not really get us to the levels of quality and accuracy and checking that we require,’ said Martyn Perks, quality director at Tods.


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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