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Quality Digest


Nikon Upgrades LC15Dx Laser Scanner

Features improved accuracy, resolution, versatility, and efficiency

Published: Thursday, May 25, 2023 - 11:01

(Nikon Metrology: Brighton, MI) -- For more than a decade, the LC15Dx laser scanner manufactured by the Industrial Metrology Business Unit of Nikon Corp. has been a global benchmark for efficient measurement and inspection of manufactured components, especially those having complex free-form geometry, such as turbine blades, orthopedic implants, and intricate plastic parts. Compatible for use with all industry-leading metrology platforms and software, a new version of the sensor has been launched with significantly upgraded functionality in several key areas.

The LC15Dx is certified according to ISO 10360-8, the industry standard for the performance of CMM laser scanning devices. The “ISO 10360‐8 Probing size error All” on the new device is one-third better than the previous (10 rather than 15 microns), so the scanner is able to deliver more accurate and repeatable dimensional measurements very close to those achieved using a tactile probe.

Improvements have been made to the way in which data captured by the lens and imager are converted into measured data points, improving structural resolution to allow even finer surface texture and detail to be seen. Manufactured in-house with glass produced within the group, the Nikon lens is custom designed for this laser scanning application, enhancing resolution by avoiding an off-the-shelf, third-party lens that merely approximates the ideal specification.

The LC15Dx has always incorporated a patented Nikon software algorithm that maintains scanning accuracy, speed, and data quality by automatically adapting the laser settings in real time at each measured point to match the type and reflectivity of the material being examined. Coupled with a high-grade daylight filter to accommodate different ambient light conditions, it enables the inspection of any material, regardless of its color, shininess, or transparency, and with no need for spraying or other surface preparation. This capability has been improved further in the new unit by facilitating better data acquisition from very dark materials. There is even a high ISO mode that can be switched on for coping with black surfaces, including those with a gloss finish.

The instrument can start scanning more quickly than before after being switched on, raising productivity when inspecting or reverse-engineering components. It continues to have zero warm-up time, as an algorithm compensates for any measurements taken while the sensor’s temperature is rising to match that of its environment. New, however, is a halving of boot time to 14 seconds, so the internal computer is ready to receive data much faster. This upgrade promotes metrology productivity by allowing almost instant operation.

Product manager Kristof Peeters says, “Alongside all these improvements is a change of livery to a smart black-and-white appearance, so a user can immediately see they are using the latest sensor version. LC15Dx retrofit kits are available for controllers fitted to all leading makes of the coordinate measuring machine [CMM], while a rich array of programming and reporting options is offered by many well-known software providers.”

As with all laser scanners, the new unit can provide a huge amount of point cloud data in a very short time for comprehensive insight into what is under investigation, whether it’s a prototype, a production component, or assembly. The wealth of information enables color-coded, 3D CAD-to-part mapping for rapid understanding of process variations.

Laser scanning is a noncontact inspection tool, so there’s no risk of deforming flexible items such as foam or rubber, or of damaging delicate samples. Operation may be combined with tactile probing for multisensor measuring routines on a CMM, with automation options using a change rack, allowing deep bores or other difficult-to-see internal features to be accessed by a touch-trigger probe.

Peeters says, “The increased resolution and accuracy of data acquisition with our latest LC15Dx laser scanner make it even more suitable for Quality 4.0 inspection applications. Continuous feedback of metrology information to a production line can ensure product conformance by preventing parameters from drifting out of tolerance, avoiding the expense of scrapped parts, rework, and product recalls.”

Learn more about Nikon Metrology here.


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