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Mike Richman

CMSC

What Is the Coordinate Metrology Society?

Previewing CMSC 2015

Published: Tuesday, June 30, 2015 - 13:10

Editor's note: This week, Quality Digest Daily will be looking at some of the key technologies on display at the Coordinate Metrology Society's annual conference (CMSC). The CMSC, taking place this year July 20–24 in Hollywood, Florida, is the gathering place for users, service providers, and original equipment manufacturers of close tolerance, industrial coordinate measurement systems, software, and peripherals.

The Coordinate Metrology Society (CMS) first came into being in 1984 to address industry's need for an organization to bring together users and providers of the hardware and software needed for portable, large-volume, close-tolerance measurement, inspection, and assembly applications. From the beginning, the CMS and its annual conference, the CMSC, supported an unprecedented amount of knowledge transfer, making it a great resource for metrologists at any point in their career arcs. During the last three-plus decades, as technological breakthroughs arrived that drastically reduced measurement times while vastly increasing accuracy, the members of the CMS have helped each other solve problems and achieve better quality and reliability for their organizations.

CMSC

The Coordinate Metrology Society's Conference is an annual meeting place where users and vendors can gather to "test drive" the latest hardware, software, and peripherals; share best practices; and generally assess the state of the industry.

Each CMSC offers a compelling keynote speaker with great insight into the importance of the science of metrology. This year, the keynoter is inspiring, too—skydiver, retired member of the U.S. Army's Special Forces, and double amputee Dana Bowman. His life-changing story is not to be missed.


2015 CMSC Keynote Speaker Dana Bowman

The CMSC also offers more than two dozen in-depth and cutting-edge technical paper presentations. These white papers cover all of the key portable technologies found in this space, including articulated arms, laser trackers, structured-light scanners, and photogrammetry, as well as the computer-aided design (CAD) software that permits incredibly detailed modeling of the acquired data points. The software is what permits the model-based definition and reverse-engineering practices that define today's world of industrial metrology. The manufacturing sectors addressed by these technologies include aerospace, defense, automotive, medical, communications, energy, satellite, and many more.

The best of the white papers presented at each year's CMSC later appear in the biannual printed publication, The Journal of the CMSC, or the group's quarterly e-newsletter, CMSC World. Those registering to attend the show are automatically placed on the distribution list to receive these publications.

The other major event at each year's CMSC is the Measurement Zone. Now in its fifth year, the Measurement Zone is a central feature of the exhibit hall, with activities open to all users, from novices to experts. The Measurement Zone is actually five zones in total:
• Zone 1 includes workshop activities and a Jeopardy-style quiz.
• Zone 2 offers e-learning opportunities, with tablets available featuring content on measurement uncertainty, geometric dimensioning and tolerancing (GD&T), and more.
• Zone 3 presents portable measurement activities with four discrete pieces of equipment, with tasks guided by a scripted process and supported by an applications engineer.
• Zone 4 adds robot programming into the mix, where participants get to program a robot path and collect data.
• Zone 5, for advanced users only, is a two-day competition in which participants use a variety of laser trackers to measure a predetermined object within a set time scale. This zone alone requires registration, as the competition is limited to 22 entrants. Interested CMSC attendees can preregister here.


Articulated arm, 2014 CSMC Measurement Zone

Certification

The learning opportunities found in the Measurement Zone support another key initiative of the CMS—the group's Level-One and Level-Two Certification program.

The society's journey toward personnel certification began in 2009. Today, the CMS certification program is a way for metrologists, and the companies that employ them, to ensure that their skills and knowledge meet the highest requirements for repeatability and accuracy.

The Level-One Certification is a written, proctored test that allows applicants to demonstrate that they understand the CMS body of knowledge. The Level-Two Certification is a hands-on test that is intended to examine an applicant's proficiency in the use of metrology equipment, as well as that individual's ability to achieve accurate results, taken in the proper way. Examinations of those wishing to seek Level-One or Level-Two Certification will be ongoing at CMSC 2015.

The CMS has just released a Certification Handbook to guide interested metrologists through the certification process.

Future developments

The science of metrology never stands still, and the CMS is in the forefront of changing developments.

On June 23, 2015, the society announced the formation of a consortium with the University of North Carolina Charlotte. The CMS and UNC Charlotte are sharing in an Advanced Manufacturing Technology (AMTech) grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The purpose of the grant is to accelerate the growth of advanced manufacturing in the United States, an undertaking for which UNC Charlotte, with its world-class facilities, and the CMS, with its large and active membership inside industry as well as academia, made a perfect partnership. Other partnerships with like-minded organizations across the world, for the purposes of spreading the word about the importance of portable, close-tolerance, large-volume metrology in the global economy, will almost certainly be announced in future months and years.


Laser tracker, 2014 CMSC Measurement Zone

The AMTech grant is just the latest confirmation that the CMS is a leader in the transfer of knowledge within metrology, just as it has been throughout its three decades of existence. With Baby Boomer engineers retiring en masse, and calls for a greater emphasis on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education, the mission of the society is more important now than ever before. Government, academia, and industry will need to continue to come together to support these initiatives, and the CMS is an ideal nexus of information, ideas, people, and technology to push these opportunities forward.

The science of metrology advances the world, and for more than 30 years the Coordinate Metrology Society has advanced the science of metrology. This relationship is sure to continue and grow in importance in the decades to come.

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Mike Richman