Ryan E. Day’s picture

By: Ryan E. Day

Industrial Custom Products (ICP) is a world leader in prototyping, developing, and manufacturing high-quality OEM and custom thermoformed and vacuum formed plastic components, as well as die cut and dieless knife-cut parts. What makes ICP unique among its competitors is its award-winning quality, on-time delivery rate of 99.5 percent, and a dazzling 22 ppm reject rate.

As an ISO 9001:2015 registered company, ICP is serious about quality. In fact, ICP has been awarded the Polaris Industries Award of Excellence a whopping eight times in a row. How does this company do it? One contributing factor is investing in appropriate technology and infrastructure to reduce bottlenecks that increase the cost of quality and reduce profitability.

Investing in infrastructure

“We recently invested in a new quality room located right off of the production floor,” says Adam Lunde, vice president of sales and marketing at ICP. “This has given us more space to bring in large parts for 3D scanning without interrupting progress on the production floor.”

Even before the infrastructure upgrade, the ICP team’s inspection solutions included FARO products.

NIST’s picture


Ordinarily, you won’t encounter a radiation thermometer until somebody puts one in your ear at the doctor’s office, or you point one at your forehead when you’re feeling feverish. But more sophisticated and highly calibrated, research-grade “noncontact” thermometers—which measure the infrared (heat) radiation given off by objects without touching them—are critically important to many endeavors besides healthcare.

However, even high-end conventional radiation thermometers have produced readings with worryingly large uncertainties. But now researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have invented a portable, remarkably stable, standards-quality radiation thermometer about 60 cm (24 in.) long that is capable of measuring temperatures to a precision of within a few thousandths of a degree Celsius.

Ryan E. Day’s picture

By: Ryan E. Day

Midwest Metrology Solutions (MMS) is a company in Indiana that provides onsite precision measurement services using state-of-the-art metrology equipment and software. With an extensive knowledge of geometric dimensioning and tolerancing (GD&T), a primary focus on quality, and a proven track record in manufacturing expertise, MMS strives to ensure its customers have a competitive advantage.

Midwest Metrology Solutions employs laser tracker technology for large-part inspection and alignment. The company’s main customers are those that cannot justify a full-time tracker and operator setup, but still require high precision measurement on large parts.


Although laser tracker systems are the technology of choice for large-volume measurements, they do have an inherent operational challenge: line of sight.

“The Achilles heel of the laser tracker is always line of sight,” explains Cody Thacker, owner of Midwest Metrology Solutions. “There’s always some place you just can't get a tracker into. Whether there’s a deep hole you need to reach down into, or a small surface that’s just around a corner from your tracker’s line of sight, for instance.”

Isaac Maw’s picture

By: Isaac Maw

In manufacturing today, data analysis tools can give management the information it needs to make better decisions in areas such as maintenance and labor. Unfortunately, however, many data analytics systems require large sets of historical data to generate accurate and useful results.

According to Rebecca Grollman, a data scientist at Bsquare, anomaly detection is different. These algorithms can begin generating useful information without needing to be trained on historical data. Although simple, anomaly detection can be used for applications such as detecting machine stoppage, sensor malfunctions, tracking production output, and more. Engineering.com recently spoke with Grollman about this solution. 

How essential is historical data in typical data science applications?

David L. Linville, Yongwoo Park, Nay Lin, and Yuanqun Lin’s default image

By: David L. Linville, Yongwoo Park, Nay Lin, and Yuanqun Lin

Calibrating an absolute distance meter (ADM) laser tracker requires long linear distances. For such distances, the room temperature is a significant factor. Even though the calibration room’s temperature is controlled within ± 2° C, actual temperature and temperature variation in one end of the room can be different from another because of uneven airflow in the room.

Controlling the air temperature and air flow along the rail can be costly for a laboratory. Thermally compensating the ADM distance for a laser traveling over a range of 50 m is not easy with just one temperature sensor. On the other hand, multiple temperature sensors placed along the ADM beam path further complicates ADM distance error compensation.

Ryan E. Day’s picture

By: Ryan E. Day

Brodie International provides liquid flow-meters and equipment for the petroleum and industrial markets. The company specializes in producing high-precision meters and valves that are used in the custody transfer of petroleum products.

The challenge

Brodie products involve components with complex shapes and assembly that made inspection measurements a serious challenge when using the traditional tools of their industry, which included height gauges, calipers, dial indicators, and a fixed coordinate measuring machine (CMM).

“We were using a fixed CMM,” says Tommy Rogers, quality manager at Brodie International. “Our older model CMM is good for measuring things like linear dimensions, hole patterns, tapers, circles, and geometry. But when it comes to measuring a compound curve like a helical shape, we were very limited.”

3D image-laser-scanning

Much of the QC oversight depended on proofing a product after final assembly.

David H. Parker’s picture

By: David H. Parker

A 154-page report by Moreu and LaFave in 2012 explains unique problems railroad bridge engineers must contend with. The gross weight of cars went from 200,000 pounds to 263,000 pounds in the 1970s, and to 286,000 pounds in 1991. The ratio of live to dead loads are much greater for railroads than highways. Dynamic forces due to such things as wheel hunting, rock and roll, locomotive tractive forces, and braking make it very desirable to measure motions in all three directions (i.e., longitudinal, transverse, and vertical directions), which is why a survey of railroad bridge engineers ranked measuring 3D deflections under live loads as the top research interest.

George Orji’s picture

By: George Orji

What are you looking to measure? This is one of the central questions for a metrologist (a measurement scientist) and is usually answered before measurements can proceed. It is impossible to make sense of the results without knowing the measurand—the actual physical dimension or other property of the sample you want to measure—regardless of the method you use.

However, the measurand could be hard to obtain if it is not defined properly, or if multiple instruments are involved.

Based on the measurement needs, I know exactly what I want to measure. Nevertheless, what I want to measure and what the instrument actually “sees” could be quite different. To solve this problem, a good knowledge of the measurement model (i.e., instrument, measurement physics, data analysis, error sources) for each technique is needed. But one also needs an outlook that mirrors that of a private eye: a sense of humor (the error sources are there; they are just hiding) and some patience (OK, lots of it).

For a metrologist, this is quite exciting!

Ryan E. Day’s picture

By: Ryan E. Day

If your manufacturing organization is going to grow, you know you need an inspection solution beyond the capabilities of micrometers and calipers. You know you need to gather more data in a faster and more reliable manner. It’s time to invest in a 3D inspection solution like a coordinate measuring machine (CMM). You also know CMMs require a significant investment and you shouldn’t rush in uninformed. Here are three questions to ask yourself to help you make wise decisions that will result in a good return on investment.

These questions arose from a conversation I had with Elliott Mills, product and regional sales manager; and Les Baker, applications engineer; both with FARO Technologies. These two have several decades of combined experience using both fixed and portable CMMs in multiple industries. Their hard-earned insight about 3D inspection comes from many years on the shop floor. Before deciding on a metrology solution, it would be wise to consider the following:
1. What is the size of parts to be measured?
2. What is the actual level of accuracy required?
3. What are the throughput requirements?

Stephan Schlamminger’s picture

By: Stephan Schlamminger

I discovered my affinity for attractive instruments while working a job before coming to NIST. My boss at the time had a love affair with the common hose clamp—the one with the worm gear.

Whenever we had to fasten a component to an apparatus he said, “Why don’t you use a hose clamp?” With every hose clamp that we added to the experiment, my hatred for them grew larger, and I started to develop the philosophy of the “beautiful instrument.” Back then, any hose clamp-free instrument qualified as one, but I have refined my threshold since. The biggest kudos I could give students working for my boss and me was, “This is what I call a beautiful instrument.” In my ideal world, all researchers would aim to build an instrument (or experiment or apparatus) with aesthetic appeal.

All other things being equal, if you had the choice between working with a good-looking instrument or an ugly one, which would you choose? Of course you would choose the beautiful instrument because it is a joy to be surrounded by lovely things. Following this logic, no ugly experiment should exist in the world, and we can close the case.

Wait, not so fast! As a matter of fact, there are ugly instruments (although maybe not at NIST). So, we need to discuss how ugly instruments come into being.

[Read More]

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