Ryan E. Day’s picture

By: Ryan E. Day

Headquartered in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Plasan North America (PNA) manufactures metal, composite, and ceramic-composite components for defense and commercial applications. PNA brings decades of process experience to bear in creating the world’s most advanced armor, metal components, and fabrications.

Challenge

PNA has a vision to become the global leader in armor solutions based on innovation and quality. This vision spurs growth that regularly challenges the company’s quality team to grow right along with production. Accelerating product development forced PNA’s quality department to reassess the capability of its current inspection equipment.

“We were facing some pretty aggressive timelines on launch activity,” explains Tony Bellitto, quality manager at Plasan North America. “We were scheduled to launch 140 new part numbers, and most of them included GD&T [geometric dimensioning and tolerancing], not just basic measurements.”

Some of the parts PNA manufactures are of considerable size and weight, which posed further challenges.

“Some of these products are up to eight feet across,” says Christine Foley, senior quality engineer at PNA. “One of the underbelly parts we produce for tactical vehicles weighs about 2,500 pounds.”

Dustin Poppendieck’s picture

By: Dustin Poppendieck

On August 29, 2005, I was starting my first semester teaching freshman environmental engineering majors at Humboldt State University in Arcata, California. At the exact same time, Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana and Mississippi with 190 kph (120 mph) winds and a storm surge in excess of 6 meters (20 feet). Levees failed, flooding more than 80 percent of New Orleans and many surrounding areas. This tragedy left more than 1,800 people dead, many of whom had been trapped in their own homes. It took nearly six weeks for the water to recede, exposing more than 130,000 destroyed housing units.

I spent the rest of the semester (and subsequent ones) discussing with my students the lessons that environmental engineers should learn from Katrina and its aftermath (levees, water treatment, mold, air testing, planning for disasters, and more). Little did I know I would still be dealing with some of the issues revealed by Hurricane Katrina nearly 15 years later as a scientist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

Ryan E. Day’s picture

By: Ryan E. Day

Headquartered in Houston, Texas, Dimensional Engineering was born on the back of a dream, a major contract from an aircraft manufacturer, and a process developed specifically to fulfill that project. Dimensional Engineering has steadily grown to become a full-service team of consulting and field metrologists, focused on the application of 3D metrology services. With aerospace and automotive applications firmly established, Dimensional Engineering has expanded into the fields of gas and oil, while positioning itself to tackle marine applications as well.

Challenge

Equipment at gas and oil facilities present a unique challenge in that many system components involve precision-machined interior features, but a rough casting on the outer surfaces. In addition, the cast pieces present numerous compound curves and varying wall thicknesses. This means that many components in an oil and gas system are an inspection nightmare, and traditional tools are often incapable of providing the quality dimensional data necessary for repairs and reverse engineering.

NIST’s picture

By: NIST

Just as a journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step, the deformations and fractures that cause catastrophic failure in materials begin with a few molecules torn out of place. This in turn leads to a cascade of damage at increasingly larger scales, culminating in total mechanical breakdown. That process is of urgent interest to researchers studying how to build high-strength composite materials for critical components ranging from airplane wings and wind-turbine blades to artificial knee joints.

Now scientists from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and their colleagues have devised a way to observe the effects of strain at the single-molecule level by measuring how an applied force changes the three-dimensional alignment of molecules in the material.

Myles Puentes, Shawn Haar, Paul Jeffers, Predrag Sekulic, and Mary Liang’s default image

By: Myles Puentes, Shawn Haar, Paul Jeffers, Predrag Sekulic, and Mary Liang

The Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope (DKIST) is strategically constructed on the summit of Haleakala, 10,023 ft above sea level, which is an ideal vantage point for solar observations. Site construction started in 2012 and moved into the integration, testing, and commissioning (IT&C) phase during the summer of 2019. DKIST will reveal features three times smaller than anything we can see on the Sun today and will do so multiple times a second.

Mounted on the telescope mount assembly (TMA) and measuring in at 4 m is the world’s largest off-axis parabolic primary mirror along with five other feed optics and the thermal system. Following the TMA is the rotating coudé laboratory, which houses the scientific instruments. All of the aforementioned elements need to be optically aligned as well as mechanically aligned to the mechanical axis of the TMA, a theoretical location whose location and motion is derived by solar altitude and azimuth. Using today’s laser tracking technologies and metrology software has made it possible to survey and interpret large articulating mechanical structures like DKIST’s telescope mount, optics, and thermal systems.

Samantha Maragh’s picture

By: Samantha Maragh

I didn’t understand what people were asking me when I was a kid. The question would come in several different forms. Sometimes it was, “What are you?” Other times it was, “Where are you from?” I would answer with things I knew to be true, like, “I’m a girl,” or, “I’m a person,” or, “I’m from Maryland,” in a sincere, but failed, effort to satisfy my questioner.

I later came to understand that these people actually wanted to know my ethnicity. I grew up in a stereotypical melting-pot USA kind of place, otherwise known as Howard County, Maryland, where many neighbors and classmates were of various ethnic backgrounds. Even in this melting pot, I was different. I am of mixed ethnicity: My mom’s half is Afro-Caribbean by way of Jamaica, and my dad’s half is East Indian by way of the West Indies. I couldn’t be placed in one bin, and I was keenly aware from the questions I received that I was different. This made me want to understand this “otherness,” and that is what sparked my love of human genetics.


Credit: Mark Esser/NIST

Alberto Castiglioni’s picture

By: Alberto Castiglioni

Ensuring the quality of a car’s performance and design, FARO 3D measurement technology solutions provide simple yet accurate ways of taking contact and noncontact measurements for quality control in automobile manufacturing and assembly.

Portable CMMs such as articulated arms can be used for rapid prototyping, analyzing car body panels, or inspecting a body-in-white, while large-volume laser trackers can be implemented for part inspection, alignment, machine installation, robot calibration, or reverse engineering tasks.

FARO has recently developed and introduced new portable metrology solutions that add measurement features and capabilities to its FaroArm product family: the FARO 8-Axis system and the FARO PRIZM Laser Line Probe.


The FARO 8-Axis system delivers innovative, real-time part rotation to streamline quality inspection processes.

The FARO 8-Axis system combines the portable FARO Quantum FaroArm or Quantum ScanArm portfolio products with a functionally integrated, yet physically separate, eighth axis.

Ryan E. Day’s picture

By: Ryan E. Day

Every year, Manufacturing Day brings attention to the career path that has financed millions of growing families throughout the decades—including mine. This attention also recalls the ongoing shortage of people to fill the thousands of available jobs in manufacturing. The same can be said for the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers that go hand-in-glove with manufacturing. According to a 2018 Deloitte study, the lack of manufacturing workers could result in the United States losing up to $454 billion in the GDP.

The fact that so much wealth will go untapped by prospective employees is a poignant reminder of the need to shine a light on the various ways that some people and organizations are taking positive steps to mitigate the issue. One of the companies taking action is CNC Machines in Sanford, Florida. Founded in 2014, CNC Machines has grown to become one of North America’s top three used machinery dealers and named one of Inc. magazine’s 5,000 fastest-growing companies in the United States.

Jody Muelaner’s picture

By: Jody Muelaner

Attribute gauges are a type of measurement instrument or process that gives a binary pass/fail measurement result. Examples of attribute gauges include go/no-go plug gauges, feeler gauges, and many other types of special-purpose hard gauges. Many visual-inspection processes may also be considered attribute gauges. They are commonly used in manufacturing for product verification. Knowing the accuracy and capability of these measurements is therefore vital for a comprehensive understanding of quality in manufactured goods.

Jody Muelaner’s picture

By: Jody Muelaner

I’ve written a lot about how to evaluate the uncertainty measurements. My articles have ranged from basic introductions to metrology and uncertainty budgets, to more advanced topics such as sensitivity coefficients and Monte Carlo simulation. To date, all of the examples I’ve used have been for variable gauges. These are measurement instruments that give a numerical measurement result, on a scale, dial or digital display.

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