Arvind Krishnan

Bruker Alicona’s MetMaX: The Role of Software in Optical CMM

September 20, 2021

An optical coordinate measuring machine (CMM) is now a necessary tool in industrial manufacturing and forms the backbone of modern metrology. And as automation becomes more prevalent in industrial manufacturing, the need for advanced software solutions to work with and control these CMMs has grown. Bruker Alicona’s MetMaX metrology software solution includes many industry-changing features …

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Bruker Alicona’s MetMaX: The Role of Software in Optical CMM

An optical coordinate measuring machine (CMM) is now a necessary tool in industrial manufacturing and forms the backbone of modern metrology. And as automation becomes more prevalent in industrial manufacturing, the need for advanced software solutions to work with and control these CMMs has grown. Bruker Alicona’s MetMaX metrology software solution includes many industry-changing features that work in conjunction with the company’s CMMs. This software has redefined the role of software in measurement by offering:

  • an integrated 3D environment to assist in developing a measurement plan;
  • a virtual environment in which to test the plan using a digital twin of the CMM;
  • automatic report generation; and 
  • a unique artificial intelligence (AI) component for making challenging measurements, such as roughness or finding defects.

Challenges in Measurement

As more industrial manufacturers seek to reduce costs through the use of automation in measurement, advanced measurement technology will enable those manufacturers to evaluate the tight tolerances of complex products, ensuring the final product meets specifications. The more complex a design becomes, the tighter the tolerances are, and the more challenging they are to measure. To meet the tolerance and design requirements of a manufactured product and detect manufacturing defects,  manufacturers are turning to optical measurements, such as those made possible by Bruker Alicona.

Optical measurements come with their own challenges. The engineers taking the measurements need to understand the manufacturing process and have a solid grasp on the principles of metrology and the measuring technology being used. This is a big ask. To address this and other associated challenges, Bruker Alicona’s new software capabilities work with the company’s 5-axis optical coordinate measuring machines (CMMs).  

Focus on “What to Measure?” 

When taking measurements of a product, there are many ways to evaluate a particular feature, such as its dimensions, roughness, or defect count, for example. To take  automatic measurements, engineers must understand the manufacturing process and the measuring equipment technology. Most engineers in manufacturing do not have the necessary background to understand the working of  optical measurement devices. While many solutions exist for making the actual optical measurements, Bruker Alicona’s MetMaX software goes a step farther by incorporating automatic measurement plan generation, virtual simulation, AI etc.into its CMMs’ measurement process.  This enables the engineering team to successfully incorporate measurement into their manufacturing and quality process. 

Before manufacturing anything, most engineering teams will design components by building a 3D model that includes detailed dimensions and tolerances. With the MetMaX software, the CAD model becomes a part of the CMM’s measurements. Using MetMaX, an engineer identifies the dimensions that need to be measured directly on the CAD model, and then the software creates a measurement plan. And if there is concern that the measurement plan will not work on the physical product, the software can simulate the measurement plan using a digital twin.

Digital Twin of the Measurement Machine

A key component of the Bruker Alicona software is the digital twin of its 5-axis measurement machines. After MetMaX proposes a measurement plan for the CAD model, an engineer can run a virtual simulation of the measurement process to see if it works. This virtual simulation illustrates the CMM’s movements, allowing the engineer to detect any collisions between the CMM and the part. If the simulation finds any collisions or other problems with the measurement, the parameters in the measurement plan are updated and the simulation is rerun. Users can repeat this process until it is clear the measurement plan will work without any glitches.

Another benefit of the digital twin is that it predicts how long the measurement will take using the physical CMM. By providing engineers with a virtual environment to test the proposed measurement process, MetMaX software increases the effectiveness of the physical CMM measurement. The simulation reduces potential problems before running the planned measurement plan on actual hardware. It saves money by reducing the time spent adjusting the plan on the physical CMM. Finally, it also allows companies to plan adequate time for the measurement process. 

Reporting of the Measurement 

After simulation has verified that the measurement plan will work, it’s time for the optical CMM to implement it on physical parts. The software executes the 5-axis CMM instructions per the plan, and then generates a report. The report compares the CAD model and the actual CMM measurements of the manufactured piece. This report is then integrated into an existing product lifecycle management (PLM) system and forms an important component of the quality control process. 

AI in Metrology

Any combination of CMM hardware and software can generate the necessary measurements of manufactured products, but MetMaX’s AI functionality enables measurement machines to do more. The software can measure the roughness of the piece or find any defects in the surface created during the manufacturing process. It does this through deep learning AI methods, including segmentation and classification, which train a neural network. This neural network learns from inputted data sets and refines its capabilities as more measurements provide more data. After training, the neural network detects and analyzes roughness and defects, and makes other challenging measurements.

Engineers can also analyze the effectiveness of grinding tools, check the position and orientation of specific features, and test the contours of the piece. All these capabilities, and more, are a part of the measurement process and do not require any extra time. 

Conclusion

MetMaX offers smart tools that work in conjunction with Bruker Alicona’s optical CMMs. Engineers can realize more detailed measurements by harnessing the full capability of the software.

Users can integrate a CAD model into the measurement plan and then test that plan virtually to find and address any potential collisions or other issues. The software also uses AI to enable difficult measurements related to roughness or defects. All these features are part of the Bruker Alicona MetMaX software package, a solution that optimizes CMM use for optical measurements of manufactured parts.

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