Swiss Machined components
Rowan Precision are using Vision Engineering’s Kestrel manual 2-axis and Hawk 3-axis fully automatic measuring systems to measure a wide variety of Swiss Machined components.
For more than 20 years, Rowan Precision has been producing precision turned components at its production facility in Birmingham. Investment in the latest technology Swiss Machining centres allows for the manufacture of a wide range of components, from 0.5mm Ø through to 85mm Ø. Materials machined include aluminium alloys, stainless steels and plastics such as PTFE, resulting in an order book containing over 500 different component types.
To confirm that customers’ tight tolerances are adhered to, Rowan Precision has chosen two non-contact measuring systems from Vision Engineering. Kestrel is a 2-axis system, used for rapid, shop floor gauging applications. Hawk is an automatic 3-axis platform, used for more challenging measurement tasks where pre-programmed inspection routines can be run.
The products manufactured by Rowan Precision tend to be small, precision turned components with a number of complex internal and external features. For example, a typical application is the production of defence specification connectors, which must be made to extremely exacting requirements backed up by component traceability. These connectors have a number of broached key features, which ensure that the finished component will only locate into the correct socket. Accurate gauging of these broached features relative to a datum proved to be an extremely difficult and lengthy operation using alternative measuring techniques. When using a shadowgraph, the component had to be sectioned before a measurement was made. This not only destroys the part being measured, but is also extremely time consuming for the operator. The Vision Engineering equipment provides a true, optical view of the connector, allowing the operator to view both profiles and surface features. Using a combination of back lighting as well as incident illumination (lighting from above the part), even highly reflective, curved materials can be clearly viewed and measured.
Inspectors use the Kestrel as a shop floor measuring tool because it is simple to use, robust and provides fast results. The Kestrel is located alongside the CNC plant, allowing first off components to be taken directly from the machine for immediate inspection and measurement. Kestrel is straightforward to use, so operators and quality staff are comfortable making basic measurements.
The Hawk is a more capable piece of equipment and is located in the QC laboratory where it is used by specially trained Quality personnel. Hawk is a motorised 3-axis system with automatic Video Edge Detection (VED). This is run alongside a QC5000 PC package, which allows for measurement routines to be programmed and stored for future use. When frequent or multiple checks are needed on a particular component, the Hawk proves a useful tool for Rowan Precision as a previously configured program can be recalled and automatically run. All the Quality Engineer has to do is locate the component on the Hawk’s stage and start an inspect cycle. Once the routine is completed, a data report can be stored and printed, part of the data trail that is vital for quality systems and component traceability.
Chris Kent, a director of Rowan Precision explains why he chose the Vision Engineering equipment. “We wanted to find a measuring solution that would work for our entire range of production, from complex connectors through to stainless steel and plastic medical devices. Hawk and Kestrel offer us this flexibility and give us confidence in the accuracy and repeatability of our processes.”