Non-contact laser scanning ensures consistent product quality for UK diecasting company

PMS Diecasting in Rotherham is using an LC15Dx laser scanner on an LK ceramic bridge co-ordinate measuring machine, supplied by Nikon Metrology, for the inspection of products. The non-contact, 3D laser scanning is carried out to an accuracy of 2.5 microns, mirroring the precision of touch probing.

The diecaster prides itself on using the most advanced technology and incorporates robotics wherever possible to streamline processes and make them more efficient and cost-effective. Automated part separation, 100% quality control and management control systems ensure consistent quality.

The equipment is capable of inspecting tolerances of ±20 microns required on cast parts as well as features down to half that limit on the tooling that produces them. Freeform surfaces as well as geometry can be captured to the same high level of accuracy, 10 times better than previously possible at PMS, claims the company. As a result, time-to-market for new products has been reduced and development costs are lower.

One of the drivers for PMS investing in the new metrology equipment was an increasing amount of work being carried out for the automotive sector, including Jaguar Land Rover, requiring a higher level of accuracy and repeatability than was needed in the past. The diecaster also intends to target the medical industry, which also demands top precision components.

The improved measuring capability led the company to become increasingly critical of the tools it was buying from external suppliers and this led to the decision to start making tools to gain control over their accuracy. This resulted in the formation in 2012 of the GoTools subsidiary.

High quality tooling is key to successful die casting. The laser scanner is able to monitor the toolmaking process as it progresses to make sure that the moulds, and hence the cast components, will be within tolerance. Cavities, cores, slides, electrodes, ejector pin plates and other features are inspected individually after they have been machined, along with the jigs and fixtures holding components during manufacture. The approach avoids introducing errors into the tool as it is assembled.

The Nikon equipment means the company knows definitively if each part is within tolerance, so its tools are always right first time.

3D laser scanning at Rotherham, however, has given rise to a further new PMS venture – a reverse engineering service for local firms.

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