Height Gage Measures Savings at Foundry
Fowler/Trimos V-600 Height Gage
- Measuring speed of 60 in.
(1.5 m) per second
- High accuracy
- Large LCD display and keypad
Fowler/Trimos V-600 Height Gage
LeSueur Inc.'s custom foundry in LeSueur, Minnesota, sought to detect part discrepancies in the production process as early as
possible to improve the quality of the company's broad range of die castings. Critical to this goal was the ability to make rapid but precise measurements during in-process inspection
operations--an activity for which the Fowler/Trimos V-600 electronic height gage was specifically designed.
LeSueur, a QS-9000-registered company, produces from 5,000 to 200,000 aluminum alloy die castings per year, depending on customer needs. The
die-cast parts end up in a variety of industrial and recreational products, such as personal watercraft, small generators for recreational vehicles, diaphragm
pumps, drive housings, brake-assembly plates, and office and military equipment. The castings range in size from 2 in. square to 48 in. long and weigh
between 2 oz. and 40 lb. LeSueur's die-cast process allows it to produce parts that require very little secondary machining when compared to the output of other casting methods.
One of the V-600's most beneficial qualities is its high automation level, which speeds in-process inspections. The gage, which is available in both 24-inch and
40-inch sizes, can measure a variety of shapes, sizes and relative locations all with the same probe. The 14-inch height gage that inspectors used to use
required probe attachments that had to be mounted by hand onto the outside of the gage. In contrast, the V-600 features a keypad function that allows the
stylus size to be changed with the press of a button.
"When we measure total indicator reading with this instrument, we save
between one and three minutes on a runout," says Mike Dobias, quality control supervisor of LeSueur's die cast division. "This operation used to take twice as
long when we used another gage. With the V-600 all we need to do is bring the reading probe down onto the fixture and rotate the diameter, and the gage
gives us continuous read-out instead of the point-to-point data we used to get. Instead of merely six or eight bits of data, we can now collect an infinite
amount." This increased data-gathering capability results in higher measurement accuracy and repeatability.
The V-600 is used at LeSueur to check the size and location of holes on an aluminum die casting used for high-pressure commercial pumps. At 0.134 in. in
diameter, the holes were too small for the gage previously used at the foundry, but the V-600 probes can accommodate the small size. The gage is used in
conjunction with a staging fixture, a small piece of steel that holds the casting to its datum structure so that both the hole's diameter and location relative to the
datum structure can be measured. The datum structure is composed of the alignment and starting points from which the measurements on blueprints of the
casting originate. The staging fixture ensures that measurements for each casting begin on the exact starting points identified on the blueprint, which is necessary
for consistent and reliable measurement results from part to part.
In addition to being able to measure the small cast holes, the V-600 meets
another crucial need of LeSueur's: Inspectors can use the gage in real time on the production floor rather than having to transport the casting to a coordinate
measuring machine in a quality control inspection lab. This capability makes the V-600 much more useful than other gages on the shop floor and saves a great deal of time during inspection.
The V-600 offers increased measuring capacity for assessing form variations, surface flatness and diameter runout. It's quickly learned by technicians, which
is important to metrology operations where figures need to be obtained rapidly. "These data are key in real-time manufacturing," says Dobias. "And it's
important when you're dealing with small cast holes, for example, because they'll exhibit greater variation than larger holes."
The V-600 gages offer accuracy of 0.00024 in. (for the 24-inch gage) and 0.0004 in. (for the 40-inch gage) and have resolutions of 0.00005 in. and
0.001 mm. They offer automatic centerline functions and internal and external diameter functions, incremental floating zero and preset, and measuring speeds
of 60 in. per second. The electronic display, new to the V-series height gages, adds many features unique to gages of this type, including Min and Max
functions and the ability to automatically calculate offsets, slot widths and grooves. Additionally, the large LCD is easy to read and understand, as it
provides icons and visual cues for various measuring applications.
The gage was also designed with the operator in mind. It's simple to
manipulate using a handwheel and has adjustable measuring pressure. A built-in pump, which takes the weight off of the gage so that it can be tooled (rather
than slid) across the granite surface plate, provides an air cushion to reduce wear and fatigue. All of these features make the gage easier to operate and
more useful on the shop floor, where good measurements are necessary to catch errors before they become major mistakes. "Early problem detection is basic to our success," concludes Dobias.