In the rapidly evolving landscape of the automotive industry, one of the key drivers of innovation and efficiency is metrology – the science of measurement. As automobile manufacturers grapple with the demands of producing increasingly complex and high-quality vehicles, metrology is evolving to meet these challenges. This article delves into the transformative role of metrology in the automotive industry and how it’s shaping its future.
Metrology’s Growing Importance in Automotive Manufacturing
The automotive industry is inextricably linked to quality control to achieve top-tier production. To this end, metrological tools are gaining prominence in the automobile sector as they assure precision in manufactured components by providing accurate measurements and consistent data. This leads to a more controlled, efficient, and superior production line.
Metrological Tools in the Automotive Industry
Several tools fall under the umbrella of metrology in the automotive industry. These include coordinate metrology, vision measuring machines, and 3D optical metrology.
Coordinate metrology simplifies the measurement process by verifying the dimensions of manufactured parts faster than traditional height gauges and micrometres as they are automated. It uses probing devices, specialised software, and controllers to analyse an object’s surface for coordinates and features. For further information on this area of metrology, please visit Eleymet.com.
Vision Measuring Machines
Vision measuring devices utilise software and hardware to identify machine parts and position their video camera to collect optical data for software processors. The processors then examine the image, offer dimensions, validate codes, and analyse orientation to enhance assembly accuracy and speed.
Optical 3D Metrology
Optical 3D metrology uses light to measure physical properties such as distances, dimensions, and temperatures. Unlike conventional coordinate measuring machines (CMMs), which capture a few hundred 3D points of a component, 3D optical metrology measurements include millions of points. This allows optical metrology tools to create complete digital twins that can be preserved for later examination or predictive maintenance.
Optical 3D Metrology: Revolutionising Manufacturing Automation
The automobile sector is at the forefront of adopting innovative production technology. It has embraced optical 3D metrology to improve quality, boost productivity, and reduce costs. This tool provides interior and exterior 3D measurements of intricate parts, significantly advancing the automation and acceleration of automobile production.
The measured data is displayed using various advanced analytical tools, enabling manufacturers to rectify any issues swiftly.
Applications of Optical 3D Metrology in the Automotive Industry
Replacing Traditional Systems in Fatigue and Crash Testing
The automobile industry increasingly uses optical 3D metrology devices to accelerate design and development. These non-contact devices are used in various tests, including impact, crash, wind tunnel, climatic chamber, and fatigue testing, replacing traditional tools like accelerometers, strain gauges, and extensometers.
3D Measurement of Shock Absorber Pistons
In the manufacture of pistons for car shock absorbers, surface and shape parameters need to be precise; however, traditional tactile measuring devices struggle to achieve the required reproducibility due to the discontinuous shape and the small height of the piston’s surface. In contrast, white-light interferometry, an optical 3D metrology method, allows rapid and highly repeatable 3D data collection of the complete surface from all angles within seconds, ensuring high reproducibility.
Flexible and Modular 3D Testing Solutions
The automotive industry uses optical 3D metrology instruments to speed up the design and simulation processes. The resulting measurements provide useful information for making rapid iterations on a product’s design and development.
In metal forming processes like bending, stamping, drawing, shaping, and pressing, optical 3D measurement systems are employed to ensure constant quality assurance. They aid in the simulation and optimisation of component and tool design, accelerate first-article inspection and tool testing, and provide effective assembly analysis and production management.
The Future of Optical 3D Metrology in the Automotive Industry
The widespread adoption of optical 3D meteorology in the automobile industry has significantly enabled longer car lifespans. This increase is a result of manufacturers being able to focus more precisely on producing high-quality components for their vehicles.
Optical 3D metrology tools have enhanced the automobile industry’s ability to mass-produce parts with high accuracy and uniformity levels. However, future metrology technology needs to be more advanced and automated to keep up with the ever-increasing demand for high-quality standards in a shorter time.
Advanced Metrology Equipment: Laser Trackers and LADAR
Laser Trackers and LADAR (LAser Detection And Ranging) are advanced metrology technologies that have gained prominence in the automotive industry due to their high accuracy, speed, and flexibility.
Laser Trackers are renowned for their ability to measure large objects with high precision. They can be used to inspect and align car components such as body panels, chassis, and suspension systems.
LADAR, on the other hand, is a non-contact measurement system that provides fast and accurate data acquisition. It overcomes several limitations of conventional techniques, offering micron-level point clouds and eliminating issues related to surface reflectivity, slow data acquisition speeds, and restrictive incident angles.
Body-in-White Inline Scanning with LADAR
Body-in-white (BiW) refers to the stage in automotive manufacturing where the car’s metal frame is assembled before painting and the addition of other components. LADAR technology is particularly well-suited for BiW inline scanning thanks to its speed, accuracy, and non-contact nature.
The Benefits of Integrating Laser Trackers and LADAR Technology
The integration of Laser Trackers and LADAR technology into automotive manufacturing processes offers numerous benefits, including improved quality control, increased efficiency, enhanced flexibility, and cost savings.
Quality Control in the Automotive Industry
The power of metrology, particularly advanced techniques using measurement equipment like Laser Trackers and LADAR, significantly enhances quality control in the automotive industry. As the industry continues to evolve, embracing advanced metrology solutions and automated measurements will be vital to maintaining high quality, safety, and performance standards in automotive production.
Metrology as an Aid for Automotive Success
Metrology plays a pivotal role in the automotive industry, enabling it to produce vehicles that offer safety and value for money. Advanced metrology tools that measure with greater autonomy, accuracy, precision, and speed offer significant benefits to the production of both human and machine-produced parts, aiding quality assurance and compliance with standards.
Metrology Tools: Moving Beyond the Measuring Room
The automotive industry has seen a definite shift in approach to quality control in serial manufacturing. Process innovations and developments in metrology equipment that have moved inspections out of the quality room and progressively closer to the line have resulted in a reduction in the time taken to collect data, obtain information, and act to correct issues.
The future of the automotive industry is intertwined with the evolution of metrology. As automation and precision become increasingly significant in vehicle manufacturing, metrology’s role will only become more critical. Its ability to provide accurate, fast, and reliable measurements will continue to drive innovation, improve quality control, and shape the future of the automotive industry.