Intralox produce graphite electrodes that are used to make the moulds for various types of belts. Intralox have purchased CONTURA coordinate measuring machine (CMM) from Carl Zeiss to inspect the moulds. According to Intralox, as mould cavities become complex to inspect, they were not able to measure geometries on certain moulds and electrodes.
Intralox had to automate their processes to maintain the flow, and therefore purchased the CONTURA coordinate measuring machine. The CONTURA coordinate measuring machine checks the geometry of the parts quickly and speeds up the process. Intralox note that the CONTURA coordinate measuring machine features the contour scanning capabilities of the VAST XT sensor. With this, Intralox were able to accurately measure geometries and achieve repeatability among measurements.
The CONTURA coordinate measuring machine can share information back and forth between PRO/E and SolidWorks and gain valuable CAD exchange capabilities. Intralox observe that they also wire-EMD real deep and small diameter holes. With the capability of the CONTURA coordinate measuring machine, users can go deep inside and check concentricity, roundness and straightness of the holes.
A core rod is placed inside each mould cavity that creates geometry on the final product. The core rod required to hold tight tolerances of about ±0.0002. With the ability to perform in-process inspection of the moulds and keep records of all the data, maintenance of the moulds can now be scheduled at regular intervals or replacement parts can be built on-time, which results in less downtime.
Another benefit they discovered is the ability to reverse engineer some of the plastic parts that are produced in the moulds. Plastic parts sometimes have processing inconsistencies that have to be overcome by reverse engineering. Engineers are now able to inspect the piece and remake cavities to ensure that they meet set specifications. CALYPSO CAD-based software has provided Intralox with several benefits, in particular the CALYPSO parametric programming capabilities (PCM). Using the CALYPSO DLL interface, they write Visual Basic programs which help to store and retrieve information from the database.
Another important benefit of the software is the ability to set-up multiple user levels. Once the programs are created, operators have to hit the start button to begin the inspection process, which makes it easy and ensures the needed security and reliability. The use of CMMs has increased throughput of high precision measurements, decreasing time spent on QC/QA. At Intralox, employees incorporate Lean into their day-today activities. In an effort to decrease wasted efforts, they rely on automation.
Through this process, they have automated the CMM and its programmes with a mix of in-house customised applications and PCM to yield measurement data and reduced downtimes. According to Intralox, with the CMM, they now have the capability to inspect incoming parts that allow them to verify the specs. The CMM is a quality control device and a manufacturing improvement device. It gave Intralox the information about what was going wrong in their manufacturing process and with which they were able to eliminate inconsistencies.
Intralox note that the cutting tools they used in the past used to wear as graphite was milled at high speeds. Intralox were able to specify better cutting tools and make better decisions on which tools to buy, which allowed them to maintain the required accuracy on the graphite parts. Using the customised template based programming, the CMM can check the geometry of the electrodes quickly.
The CONTURA coordinate measuring machine allowed Intralox to enhance product quality and reliability. Intralox can accurately measure data during production cycles prior to final assembly, allowing less custom manufacturing and reliable tooling. The tolerances range from ±0.005” to ±0.0002” (±127µm to ±5µm). With the advanced features in CALYPSO, Intralox were able to improve the form grinding process. This is a difficult procedure considering the intricate part geometry of the steel, particularly if an accuracy of ±0.0002” (±5µm) has to be maintained. But they were able to achieve this by using CALYPSO.
Intralox add that they place a form on a grinding wheel, take a piece of graphite, grind it and measure it. Once that ±0.0002” (±5µm) limit has been achieved, they begin form grinding the steel. CALYPSO helped them to maintain their tolerances and automate measuring form geometry in steel or in graphite.
Intralox stress that the Zeiss CONTURA coordinate measuring machine had automated the complete measuring process and reduced their measuring time. Intralox were able to eliminate non-value added processes and maintain flexibility without sacrificing product quality. They now have a closed loop manufacturing process.