Monday, December 29, 2014

Customized Innovation for One Customer Leads to 7 Breakthroughs in PointMaster 5.4 Industrial Scanning for All Customers.

PointMaster is our successful and reliable industrial scanning software with proven modules for Reverse Engineering, Verification, CAM Milling and Computed Tomography.

This latest version boasts lots of improvements. What started out as a custom project became a whole new product release for you.  This version allows efficient scan path planning, plus a fully automatic measurement protocol generation capability.

 In a recent interview we asked Chief Developer and Branch Manager, Ralf Jaumann, to explain the most important innovations.

What’s new in Wenzel PointMaster 5.4 Industrial Scanning Software?

industrial scanning
Earlier this year we teamed up with a leading car manufacturer to develop a customized application solution for new a new quality center.

Based on that customization we implemented many new features into the latest version for all of our PointMaster 5.4 industrial scanning software customers.

For example, measurement reports can be created automatically via a script language. We’ve also made a big step toward virtual tool compensation by taking already reproached tool geometries into account in our compensation calculation.

Can you describe the project in detail?

It was a challenging, multi-faceted project with a leading automotive manufacturer here in Europe.  First, we equipped a new measurement center with a total of 18 WENZEL R-Series horizontal-arm measuring machines. Using PointMaster industrial scanning we enabled direct data import from the CAD program CATIA V5. 

We then integrated the customer’s 3D line scanner to run parallel to the new Wenzel scanners on the CMMs we installed. The 3D Line Scanner and our scanners were run into the PointMaster 5.4 software.   Finally, we developed a new scanning method for complete car bodies.

What are the advantages of the new scanning method?

The work was radically simplified. Previously, only unidirectional movements were possible. That means that the sensor could only be moved in one direction when scanning. Now, due to a specific calibration, both sides can be measured bi-directionally.

Programming Time Reduced by 98% Due to New Bi-Direction


With the new PointMaster 5.4 programming time went from 4.5 hours to 5 minutes!

Total Time For Scan Down by 88% Due to New Scanning Method


The scanning time for an entire car body went from 3 hours and 20 minutes to about half an hour.

Total Scanned Points Shrunk by 93% Due to New Intelligent Efficiencies

Also the scanned cloud of points was reduced from 39 million to 2.7 million points, as a result of less overlapping scan fields and intelligent motion paths.

In addition, the measurements are fully protected against collision and it is possible to scale, move and reflect the CNC scan programs.

You talked about automated measurement reports. How do these work? 


We’ve integrated a programming language similar to JavaScript in PointMaster. This makes it possible for PointMaster 5.4 industrial scanning software users to create programs, which automatically generate a test report.

With his much power and versatility, is intensive training necessary to work with the software?

No, PointMaster 5.4 is very intuitive and most features are supported by automation. The ease of use and intuitive operation is part of the appeal of PointMaster with our customers.  You can take very complex problems and solve with minimal training and relatively few hours of effort.

industrial scanning
Screenshot PointMaster Version 5.4 – Scan path planning

About Wenzel America

Wenzel America is a division of Wenzel Group GmbH & Co. KG, a 45-year-old, family-owned, world-leading manufacturer of metrology solutions. Wenzel America is a top supplier of High-Speed Optical Scanning, CT 3D Scanning and traditional CMMs and GMMs. North American aerospace, automotive and medical device manufacturers all depend on Wenzel’s intrinsically accurate granite measuring machines and innovative metrology software and sensor solutions.  For more information about Wenzel America and its products contact Andy Woodward @ 248.295.4300 or email

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

American Manufacturing is Alive and Doing Very Well

Often when we talk about manufacturing and industry in this country, we talk about loss, decline and shrinking markets. Contrary to much of this type of news, many indicators show that our industrial economy is doing quite well and overall we are still the largest economy in the world.

Recent reports about the USA slipping to number two are based on projections and statistics using weighted methodology and are not accurate.

This article from Marketwatch tells a more complete story: Sorry, But America is Still #1

Another telling data point of how well we’re doing is this one: Taken alone, the U.S. Manufacturing GDP would be the 8th largest economy in the world.

Here’s how the actual breakdown looks:
  1. USA 2014 GDP is  $17.5 trillion
  2. China  $ 10 trillion
  3. Japan $4.8 trillion
  4. Germany $3.9
  5. France $2.9
  6. United Kingdom $2.8
  7. Brazil $2.2
  9. Italy $2.2
  10. Russia $ 2.1
  11. India $2.0
That’s something to think about the next time you see a doom and gloom article about U.S. manufacturing. Here’s the full world economy visual from CNN Money.

We still make some of the best products in the world. This article from a few years ago gives a top 10 list of things made in USA.

On a side note, though not on this particular list, I am happy to say Whirlpool is one of our best customers with 8 manufacturing facilities and 28,000 people making iconic American-made products across the Midwestern United States.

The predictions made in that article in 2011 about back shoring (jobs coming back to the U.S.) are coming true. We may have lost 33% of our manufacturing jobs from 2000 to 2012 but the situations that brought that about are changing fast.
  • Jobs left when you could get work done at 58 cents an hour.
  • The coastal wage in China is now $3 per hour and growing.
  • We’ll see a trillion dollar swing real soon.
  • China’s growth has stalled.
  • Currently down to 7.5% in 2014 from 9.3% in 2011 & 14% in 2007
  • China has declined almost a 50% in just a few years.
Like many developing economies, they face inflation and have possibly over extended their buying of offshore products. Spent too much. 

Sound familiar?

The biggest advantage we have always had in the United States is the quality we produce and the innovation we create.  You can’t find that anywhere in the world and certainly not for pennies.

So let’s end the year on a high note. Instead of focusing on what we’ve lost, let’s remember all we still have and the innovative, quality products we still make.

To get started focusing on just that here is an article from the National Association of Manufacturers that tells the real comeback story of American manufacturing.

And, with the holidays right around the corner there’s plenty of American made gifts to be found at Still Made in America and Americans Working.

About the author

Mike Bingham is a Regional Sales representative for Wenzel America.  Mike welcomes questions about the article or Wenzel America Coordinated Measuring Machines, 3D Metrology, Gear Measuring Machines and metrology machine training and service. email: Ph: 248.295.4300.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

3 ½ Minutes Could Save You Thousands on 3D Scanning Technology

3d scanning
 By: Giles Gaskell

This is the third article in our series on the Fundamentals of 3D scanners and 3D imaging technology. It covers the basics of optical scanners and could also save you a lot of money.

If you measure shiny parts, machined metal or any parts that need to be coated and you use (or want to use) 3D scanning technology you’ll want to read all the way to the end.

Laser Line or Structured Light 3D Scanners – Which is better?

People ask me this question at every presentation, and 20 years on, to be honest, I can’t say which is better – Laser 3D Scanners or Structured Light Scanners/White Light Scanners. With certain applications one may be better than the other and have slight advantages. Like so many things in technology and metrology - it depends.

So, let’s cover how they work as a way to ascertain which is best for your needs.

All optical scanners work basically the same way, whether they are laser line scanners, structured or white light scanners.

Laser Line Scanning

Usually the laser is red, but sometimes it may be green or blue. The level of power of these lasers is very similar to the laser you might see in the check out line.

The basic method of operation is the laser beam is played on the object and it moves across the surface in a series of lines and it squiggles.  It works by triangulation wherein the laser shines on the object and a camera is picking up the data it delineates.
3d scanning

Structured Light Scanners also called White Light Scanners

Generally speaking these scanners use white light, though they can use blue or other colors - they are known collectively as White Light Scanners.

The way these work is instead of a moving laser line that is being read, the Structured Light Scanners shoot a square patch of light that looks quite like zebra stripes. These stripes then change “structure” or move into a new pattern of zebra stripe which is then read by the camera and the light goes away.

3d scanning

Both of these use triangulation and give highly accurate depth perception for the camera which then equates to very accurate measurements.  It’s an obvious way for this to work and delivers excellent measurement accuracy.

There are definitely some drawbacks and problems associated with structured light scanners and laser line scanners though.

One major problem that almost all optical scanners suffer from - they have real difficulty measuring shiny surfaces.

Shiny or reflective surfaces will reflect or disperse the light into all different directions and the camera system is confused and cannot read properly.

How Accurate Does Your 3D Scanner Really Need to Be?

Recently machined metal is in that category.  The normal metrological method to fix this is to coat the part with something that gives it a matte finish.

Here’s the scoop, when you do that the accuracy of the 3D scanner you are using is no longer what the manufacturer said it was.  The accuracy now is the uncertainty of the thickness of the coating you applied to your part.

The only way to stay within the reported accuracy is if you somehow know that the paint you’ve applied is within a micron of thickness.  This unfortunately, is not possible and tests have shown us that the paint thickness could be as little as 10 microns and as thick as 10,000th of an inch - you just don’t know.

Your new uncertainty is no longer tied to the accuracy of the machine you bought, but instead to the thickness of the coating you had to apply. 

Got Shiny Parts? Read This & Save Thousands on Your 3D Scanner

This is the little tidbit that could save you tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands when you purchase a 3D Scanning machine - whether it’s a white light scanner or laser scanner. From us or somebody else. It doesn’t matter. The reality is the reality.

If your parts are always shiny and you’re going to have to coat all of them before measuring, then you might as well buy a 3D Scanner that has an accuracy of plus or minus 3 or 4 thousandths of an inch. No higher level of accuracy is warranted. At this point, your benchmark is no longer accuracy.

Get a high value, relatively low cost 3D scanner that’s portable and easy to use and still accurate within the real uncertainty you’re going to be dealing with after you coat the parts.

If you’re coating all the parts before measuring then you’re chasing a level of accuracy that is impossible to achieve anyway due to the need to spray your parts. One of our mantras at Wenzel America is don’t buy more machine than you need. We hope this helps you do that.

About Wenzel America

Wenzel America Ltd. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Wenzel Group of Germany. Contact Wenzel America by phone at 248.295.4300, email us or subscribe to our newsletter.

About Giles Gaskell

Giles Gaskell has been involved in industrial 3D Imaging and 3D Scanning since it’s earliest beginnings. He founded the first distribution company for hand-held 3D Scanners in the UK and then Italy. Since arriving in the United States in 2005 he has continuously worked in the 3D Scanning an Imaging arena in business development and education. Giles is 1 of 3 Advisors North American advisors to SME’s RAPID show which is focused on 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing. Since 2010, Mr. Gaskell has been the Applications and Sales Manager for 3D Imaging products at Wenzel America.