Wednesday, January 21, 2015

What You Need to Know About Renishaw Styli

4 Reasons We Only Use Renishaw on Wenzel CMMs  

Below you'll find a comprehensive Introduction to Renishaw Styli. 

Before you dive into that we wanted to tell you a few of these reasons why we exclusively use and recommend their products.

At Renishaw when they talk about the ‘Production Pyramid”, they’re speaking from four decades of experience. That experience also made them the industry standard.

Besides being the standard, there are at least 3 more reasons we use Renishaw:

  • They make everything to their own exacting standards. Just like we do.
  • They make the largest variety of styli on the market. Almost any application.
  • Their styli are very good value for money. Quality + Value is important.

There is also one more great reason for you to make Wenzel America your Renishaw Styli supplier:
  • We won’t be beaten on price on Renishaw styli and accessories.

An Introduction to Renishaw Styli and Accessories 
Accuracy starts at the point of contact.

What is a stylus?

A stylus is that part of the measuring system which makes contact with the component, causing the probe's mechanism to displace. The generated signal enables a measurement to be taken. The feature to be inspected dictates the type and size of stylus used. In all cases, however, maximum rigidity of the stylus and perfect sphericalness of the tip are vital.

To achieve this, Renishaw's stylus stems are produced on CNC machine tools to exacting standards. Great care is taken to ensure that location faces give maximum stiffness whilst stylus mass is optimized to suit Renishaw’s range of probes.
Genuine Renishaw stylus balls are produced to the highest standards and are bonded to the stems in such a way as to ensure maximum joint integrity.
The performance of your gaging can easily be degraded if you use a stylus with poor ball roundness, poor ball location, bad thread fit or a compromised design that allows excessive bending during measurement. To ensure the integrity of the data you gather, make certain that you specify and use a stylus from the comprehensive range of genuine Renishaw styli.

What is the naming protocol of Renishaw styli?

Renishaw uses the following naming protocol to allow easy identification of styli by name and part number. The examples below show how this protocol is assigned and describe the abbreviations used:

Straight styli

M2 STY D2R L20 EWL14 d1.4SS

The above protocol describes an M2 threaded straight stylus fitted with a 2 mm diameter ruby ball. It has an overall length of 20 mm, has an effective working length (EWL) of 14 mm and has a 1.4 mm diameter stainless steel stem.

Star styli
M2 STR D2R L20 5BALL L19.5 S32

The above protocol describes an M2 threaded star stylus fitted with a 2 mm diameter ruby ball. It has 5 balls on the star and an overall length of 19.5 mm (from the center of the ball to the rear of the star mounting face when assembled to a probe). The span of the star cluster is 32 mm.

Disc styli
M2 DSC SD18 SLVS T2.2 L2.6 BR-Y

The above protocol describes an M2 threaded disc stylus with a spherical diameter disc of 18 mm. It is made from silver steel with a disc thickness of 2.2 mm and a length of 2.6 mm. BR stands for balls/ rollers followed by yes (Y) or no (N).

Cylinder styli

The above protocol describes an M2 threaded cylinder stylus with a critical measuring element diameter of 3 mm made from silver steel. It has an overall length of 13 mm and an EWL of 4 mm.

M4 EXT L15 d7 SS

The above protocol describes an M4 threaded extension with a length of 15 mm diameter and a diameter of 7 mm. The extension is made from stainless steel.
These notes explain the critical features of every stylus type, helping you to choose the right design for each inspection need.


Overall Length

Renishaw uses a standard description of overall length, measuring from the rear- mounting face of the stylus to the center of the ball.

Effective working length (EWL)
This is measured from the center of the ball to the point at which the stem will foul against the feature when measuring 'normal' to the part.

Choosing the right stylus for your applications

To maintain accuracy at the point of contact we recommend that you:

Keep styli short
The more that a stylus bends or deflects, the lower the accuracy. Probing with the minimum stylus length for your application is the best option.

Minimize joints
Every time you join styli and extensions, you introduce potential bending and deflection points. Try, wherever possible, to keep to the minimum number of pieces for your application.

Keep the ball as large as possible

There are two reasons for this:

• It maximizes your ball/stem clearance thereby reducing the chances for false triggers caused by 'shanking out' on the stylus stem

•The larger ball reduces the effect of surface finish of the component being measured

What types of material does Renishaw use in their Stylus Balls?

The industry standard and the optimum stylus ball material for a vast majority of measurement applications, ruby is one of the hardest known materials. Synthetic ruby is 99% pure aluminum oxide which is grown into crystals (or “boules”) at 2000 °C using the Verneuil process.

The boules are then cut and gradually machined into a highly spherical form. Ruby balls are exceptionally smooth on the surface, have great compressive strength and a high resistance to mechanical corrosion.
Very few applications exists where ruby is not the preferred ball material, however there are two applications where balls manufactured from other materials are recommended.

The first is for heavy duty scanning applications on aluminum. Because the materials attract a phenomenon known as ‘adhesive wear’ can occur which involves build up of aluminum from the surface onto the ball. A better ball material for such applications is silicon nitride.

The second is in heavy duty scanning applications on cast iron. Interaction between the two materials can result in ‘abrasive wear’ of the ruby ball surface. For such applications, Zirconia balls are recommended.

Silicon nitride
Silicon nitride possesses many similar properties to ruby. It is a very hard and wear-resistant ceramic, which can be machined into very high precision spheres. It can also be polished to an extremely smooth surface finish. Silicon nitride does not have the attraction to aluminum and so does not exhibit the adhesive wear seen with ruby in similar applications. However, silicon nitride does show significant abrasive wear characteristics when scanning on steel surfaces and so its applications are best confined to aluminum.

Zirconia is a particularly tough ceramic material with hardness and wear characteristics approaching those of ruby. Its surface properties make it an ideal material for aggressive scanning applications on cast iron components.

Please contact us if you require any styli with special ball materials. We can recommend the most suitable material for scanning different materials

What material does Renishaw use on the stylus stem?

Stylus stems manufactured from stainless steel are used widely for styli with ball/tip diameters of 2 mm or greater and with lengths up to 30 mm. Within this range, one-piece steel stems offer the optimum stiffness to weight ratio, giving adequate ball/stem clearance without compromising stiffness with a joint between the stem and threaded body.

Tungsten carbide
Tungsten carbide stems are best used for maximizing stiffness with either small stem diameters required for ball diameters of
1 mm and below, or lengths up to 50 mm. Beyond this, weight can become a problem and stiffness is lost due to deflection at the stem to body joint.

For ball diameters greater than 3 mm, and lengths over 30 mm, ceramic stems offer stiffness comparable to steel but are significantly lighter than tungsten carbide. Ceramic-stemmed styli can also offer additional crash protection to your probe as the stem will shatter in a collision.

Carbon fiber (Renishaw GF)
There are many grades of carbon fiber materials. However, Renishaw GF combines optimum stiffness characteristics, both longitudinally and in torsion (important in star constructions), with extremely low weight. Carbon fiber is inert and this, combined with a special resin matrix, provides excellent protection in the most hostile of machine tool environments.

What are the different types and uses of Renishaw Styli for CMMs?

The genuine Renishaw stylus range comprises several types:

Straight styli

These are the simplest form of stylus, incorporating highly spherical industrial ruby balls and a choice of stem material.

Ruby is an extremely hard material and hence stylus wear is minimized. It is also of low density, keeping tip mass to a minimum, which avoids unwanted probe triggers caused by machine motion or vibration.

Mounted on stems made from a range of materials – stainless steel, tungsten carbide, ceramic and a specialized carbon fiber material, “Renishaw GF” – these simple ruby ball styli are suitable for most inspection applications.

Each stylus has an effective working length (EWL), which is the penetration that can be achieved by the ball before the stem fouls against the feature.

The size of the ball and the EWL of the stylus chosen are dictated by the size of the feature to be inspected. However, keeping the stylus ball as large as possible and the stem as short as possible will ensure maximum ball/stem clearance, whilst providing a greater yet still rigid EWL. Using larger ruby balls also reduces the effect of the surface finish of the component being inspected.

Probing with very long stylus/extension combinations is not recommended with standard kinematic touch trigger probes as the rigidity is reduced and accuracy lost due to stylus bending. This is not the case with other types of probe such as those with strain gage technology, as their very low trigger forces permit the use of long stylus/extension combinations without a significant loss of accuracy.

Star styli

These stylus clusters provide you with multiple-tip probing of complex features and bores. Four or five ruby ball systems are mounted rigidly on a stainless steel center. Three standard sizes are offered– alternatively, you can create custom-made star styli using a 5-way stylus center and any of the genuine Renishaw stylus range.

Star styli can be used to inspect a variety of different features. Their use can reduce inspection cycle times by allowing multi-tip probing, minimizing the need to move the probe to extreme points of internal features such as the sides or grooves in a bore. Using star styli also allows effective probing in the –Z (upwards) direction when using a 5-way probe, provided that the stylus tips extend beyond the diameter of the probe body. Each tip on a star stylus requires datuming (sometimes referred to as ‘qualifying’ or ‘calibrating’) in the same manner as a single-ball stylus. The 'span' of star styli is taken from ball center to ball center.

Disc styli 

These styli are used to probe undercuts and grooves within bores, which may be inaccessible to star styli. They are ‘sections’ of highly spherical balls and are available in various diameters and thicknesses. Full rotational adjustment and the ability to add a center stylus are features of the Renishaw range of disc styli that make them particularly flexible and easy to use.

Probing with the ‘spherical edge’ of a simple disc is effectively the same as probing on or about the equator of a large stylus ball. However, only a small area of this ball surface is available for contact and hence thinner discs require careful angular alignment in order to ensure correct contact with the feature being probed.

A simple disc requires datuming for only one diameter (usually in a ring gage), but limits effective probing to only X and Y directions.

Adding a ‘radius end roller’ allows you to datum and hence probe in the Z direction, provided that the center of the ‘radius end roller’ extends beyond the diameter of the probe. The ‘radius end roller’ can be datumed on a sphere or a slip gage. Rotating and locking the disc about its center axis allows the ‘radius end roller’ to be positioned to suit the application.

Discs may also have a threaded center to allow the fixing of a center stylus, giving the additional flexibility of probing the bottom of deep bores (where access for the disc may be limited).

What Styli for do you have for specialist applications?

A range of specialist styli is available to enable probing of features such as thread form, thin sectioned material, tool setting and other specialist applications.

Cylinder styli

These are used for probing holes in thin sheet material. In addition, various threaded features can be probed and the centers of tapped holes located. Ball-ended cylinder styli allow full datuming and probing in X, Y and Z directions, thus allowing surface inspection to be performed

Pointer styli 
Pointer styli are designed for the inspection of thread forms, specific points and scribed lines (to lower accuracy). The use of a radius end pointer stylus allows more accurate datuming and probing of features as detailed above and can also be used to inspect the location of very small holes.

Ceramic hollow ball styli
Ceramic hollow ball styli are ideal for probing deep features and bores in X, Y and Z directions, with the need to datum only one
ball. There are two versions in the range, 18 and 30 mm diameter, specially designed for the TP2 / TP20 / TP200 and TP6 probes respectively. Probing with such a large diameter ball can average out the effects of very rough surfaces.

Tool setting styli

Typically, these are fitted with a square tip and can have threaded or plain shaft attachments. The tip faces are ground to ensure high squareness and parallelism. The TS27R tool setting probe for machining centers can also be fitted with a tungsten carbide disc stylus.

 Crash protection devices 
Renishaw’s stylus crash protection devices are designed to break in the event of impact and protect the probe from damage.

Accessories and tools
A wide range of accessories including extensions, 4 and 5-way centers and stylus knuckles complement the genuine Renishaw stylus range to achieve fully flexible inspection.

Stylus centers

These provide maximum probing flexibility with a single probe. Taking up to five styli of the same mounting thread, this accessory allows you to build stylus configurations to your own specification.

Stylus knuckles

These give full adjustment about two axes, allowing the stylus to be orientated to probe angled features. This adjustment is especially useful when the probe cannot be correctly orientated by the probe head or when access for the head is limited.
 Stylus extensions

These provide additional probing penetration by extending the stylus away from the probe. However, using stylus extensions can reduce probe accuracy due to loss of rigidity. This is not the case with electronic probes, whose extremely low trigger forces render them less sensitive to this type of inaccuracy.

Stylus thread adaptors
These allow M2, M3, M4 and M5 threaded styli to be interchanged on the majority of touch trigger probes. They are particularly useful for adapting the extensive range of specialized application M2 styli for use on larger probes.

Stylus tools
Specifically designed for mounting styli correctly onto probes and for the construction of specialized stylus combinations, Renishaw’s stylus tools protect your investment.

The S7 stylus tool
The S7 stylus tool is used for tightening styli and accessories when connecting to one another or directly into the probe. It is specifically designed to yield if excessive tightening force is applied, avoiding damage to the threads of stylus and probe.

A stylus crank
A stylus crank can allow access to features that are otherwise difficult to reach, and are often used in lathe inspection applications.

Are there comprehensive styli kits available?

Renishaw styli and accessories are available in a wide selection of kits, ranging from a small precision set of the most frequently used styli, to a comprehensive set to meet virtually every inspection need.
Some sets are housed in a quality wooden case for maximum protection and superb presentation. The styli are held in a wood insert, individually located in a nylon sleeve providing protection for the mounting threads. This type of box features a removable module which houses up to twelve ruby ball styli and contains a tray for discs, tools and accessories. This allows the stylus selection for a particular inspection task to be brought to the CMM's table. The sloping lid design of this kit provides easy access to styli, minimizing handling of ruby balls and contact surfaces, thus aiding cleanliness.
Probing kits are also available to include a probe, probe head, extension bars and styli.

What about custom applications? Can you custom design styli?

If you cannot achieve your objectives using our extensive range of standard products, Renishaw's Styli and Custom Products Division offers a unique service by providing customers with a total solution for their probing needs for CMM, machine tool or scanning applications.
The Division includes expertise in applications, design, engineering and manufacturing with extensive experience in providing tailor-made product solutions to specific customer's requirements.
In many application problems, the solution lies in the choice of the stylus which influences access of the workpiece features, inspection times and probe performance. All of these aspects are considered within the design of a custom stylus, ensuring that the solution incorporates the ideal choice of materials and optimizes probe performance for your particular application.

Renishaw's Styli and Custom Products Division has supplied over 5,000 different custom styli into probing applications worldwide, so the solution to your application problem may already exist.

For More Information

For further advice on outfitting your CMM with aftermarket Renishaw probes please email Jenny Egan (at)

Wenzel America exclusively uses Renishaw probes, styli and accessories on all of our machines.  As a dedicated supplier of Renishaw we will beat any price in the market and service any machine with Renishaw probes regardless of brand.

Get signed up for Wenzel’s America’s Metrology Matters Newsletter and keep up with the latest innovations in 3D Scanning, Coordinated Measurement, Metrology Innovations and more delivered straight to your inbox.

Not All Coordinate Measuring Machines Are Created Equal

Do your CMMs Have Rock Solid Accuracy & Durability?

The structures metrology companies use for CMMs are not all the same.  Most companies have moved to aluminum alloy for their metrology material of choice because it is lighter and cheaper. The problem with this is that they sacrifice the very thing automotive parts, aerospace parts and medical device manufacturers rely on most:


Their solution to the accuracy problems caused by cheaper and lighter materials like aluminum, is to put complex error-mapping software on top that compensates for the inherent inaccuracy of the machines. 

From an engineering perspective this is backwards, overly complex correction of errors or inaccuracies, instead of starting with higher accuracy and correcting from there, is never considered an optimum engineering solution. The only real benefit we can see is maybe a slightly lower cost machine for the buyer and slightly a better margin for the seller.  

But at what cost to everyone? In-built inaccuracies with unnecessary added complexities can create thousands of unusable parts or, worst-case, result in massive recalls. The cost-benefit ratio at that point is not worth it.

We build our CMM structures from granite for one reason only - Accuracy. 

We're traditionalists. We use what works best from a proven engineering perspective - always.  

Granite remains the perfect structure for CMMs due to its long term stability, resistance to temperature change and incredibly high stiffness.

The granite we use is sourced from hand-selected South African quarries. We work with very specific suppliers of Black Impala granite in the region. This particular type of stone is the least porous, most consistent, and the most structurally and thermally stable granite known.

Getting a that raw stone from the quarry and made into the quality thermally stable granite CMM in your shop is a feat of skill and logistics that is actually pretty incredible. But interestingly, measuring machines from Wenzel cost no more than other systems made from cheaper materials and processes.  The coordinate measuring machines we make are machines fit for a lifetime. You get a solid, stable metrological workhorse that gives consistent results over many years of service. 

Why Black Impala Granite?

The story of your CMM starts in South Africa. After more than four decades investing in and sourcing only the best granite from the best quarries, there are only a few we work with. For our Bridge and Gantry LH CMMs we need very large, unflawed pieces of raw granite and only a handful of quarries can mine and handle what we need.

Have you ever seen a  tiered wedding cake?  That is what the mountain resembles once the large blocks of granite are literally ‘sheared’ from its side. 

As you might think, there is considerable time involved in mining and shipping these huge raw granite blocks to Germany where we cut, finish and hand lap to precision Wenzel standards.  We pre-order the giant slabs based on experience and forecasts of future orders then they are mined and stored at the quarry until we need them. 

Precision German Engineering - From Rough Start to Fine, Hand-lapped Finish

These giant rough slabs are then sent out on ship across the Atlantic, loaded onto heavy-load trucks and taken to Wenzel Steintechnik in Germany. Steintechnik (literally "Stone Technique" in English), have been processing granite since 1988 and for the last 8 years they have been part of the Wenzel Group.

To get the rough blocks ready for precise machining,  large CNC saws cut them within 10 mm of the finished size. 

After this, the granite is ground, honed, and polished to a flatness of plus or minus 2 mm. This is also when the craftsman add any additional required slots and inserts.

At this point the tables,  X-beams and quills are then trucked 40 miles down the road to the Wenzel Prazision (Wenzel Precision) factory in Wiesthal, Germany.

After a few days of temperature stabilization and relaxation of stresses, large CNC grinding machines are used to machine the components to their finished size.

Many other CMM manufacturers would call it a day after the previous step, but we add one final step that ensures we get the optimal and  intrinsic accuracy. 

Each part is then thoroughly inspected with laser interferometers to make sure the exacting flatness, parallelism and squareness tolerances are met. Large tables are inspected with digital levels.

This inspection is particularly critical for the Z-axis quill as straightness of this part dramatically affects the accuracy performance of the finished CMM.
After inspection our engineers can see if grinding process delivered the required form on every piece of granite.  If it hasn't, a team of technicians will hand lap out any errors. The skill of these engineers is unmatched. No other company takes the time and care nor has the experience necessary to produce granite CMMs of this caliber.  
Now all components are assembled into the most stable and intrinsically accurate CMM structures to be found anywhere in the world.

It's easy to see why, with all that is involved in building truly accurate granite CMMs so many have moved away from the number one material in metrology.  We see it as our key difference and commitment to precision.  

With our years of experience in sourcing the world’s best granite to the painstaking, laser-precise measurement and craftsman-finishing, our processes and product quality are unduplicatable. We're confident no other coordinate measuring machine company can compare to the expertise and standards we maintain in all of our machines.

Wenzel America is your North American Source for the world’s finest coordinate measuring machines. We proudly sell and support these products with personalized customer service and training. We are always happy to answer any questions you have about CMMs, Gear Measuring MachinesCT Scanning servicespre-owned machinesRenishaw probes or any other aftermarket coordinate measuring products or services.  

If you need measuring equipment and want to discuss your measurement processes and needs you can contact one of our CMM experts here.  To get signed up for our monthly educational newsletter Metrology Matters you can do that as well, right here.   

How to Get Financing or Lease a New or Used CMM or 3D Measuring Machine

Answers to Questions on Financing or Leasing Your Next Coordinate Measuring Machine

An Interview with Matt Borman  
Tech Financial Services, A Division of Five Lakes Financial, Inc.

Who is Tech Financial Services?

We’ve been helping machine tool shops, automotive suppliers, manufacturers, tool and die shops and other small and medium sized manufacturers with CMMs, non-contact measuring equipment and other machinery financing since 2003. Since then we’ve provided industrial equipment loans to thousands of businesses across hundreds of industries.

What are some of the financing options available for new measuring machines?

We offer both variable and fixed-rate loans for equipment and machinery purchases. We also have various leasing options. 

Typically, we evaluate each client and custom-tailor a financing or leasing program that fits his or her business situation.  Our goal is to structure the right loan or lease program that allows you to expand or grow your business without hurting your cash flow and working capital. 

Should I buy or lease my new CMM?

Purchasing instead of leasing is a good idea if the equipment is expected to have a long productive life and can operate without needing a replacement or upgrade in the near future.

You can use the loan to finance a measuring machine that allows you to take in new work. This allows you to use equipment now, instead of waiting to buy it outright, while spreading loan payments over the life of the asset. That way you generate income from the equipment, gain equity, and even pay the loan off sooner.

What are some of the benefits of financing a new metrology machine purchase with a loan?

We already mentioned increased production and quality. If a getting a new CMM allows you to take a contract worth millions of dollars that is obviously the biggest benefit. Some of the other advantages could include:

  • Interest Tax Write Offs
  • Increased Business Asset Book Value
  • Equipment and Machinery Depreciation Tax Deduction
  • Keeping Existing Credit Lines Open for Expenses
  • Preserving Cash on Hand
What if my bank or other finance company says they can offer low rates?

Finding the best rate is only part of financing a purchase of a new CMM or non-contact measuring machine. You need to be very careful about hidden fees and unfavorable terms in the contract. We can compare the equipment lease or loan you are considering to ours to make sure you are making the right financial decision for your individual business needs.

Obviously, we also recommend you always discuss all potential contracts with your accountant / attorney.

What about a used CMM? Can I finance a used machine too?

Yes. Used equipment can be a valuable asset to your manufacturing facility, especially if the particular type of machinery has a low obsolescence rate.

Working with Wenzel America is especially beneficial as they fully certify and refurbish any used CMM they sell regardless of the brand.  They also customize the retrofit with the newest software and sensors to suit your exact needs. 

An advantage of this is that many companies can purchase the more machine for less. In other words you get the CMM you need instead of settling for the bare minimum or decreased accuracy of a cheaper, new machine.

It’s also possible you could afford two pieces of used machinery for the price of one new CMM. This strategy can greatly increase the productivity of your manufacturing facility while containing costs.

Another benefit of financing a used CMM versus new is you can get it in on your shop floor or in your testing lab right now. Fast availability can be a game changer for many facilities.

Can you wait months for a new machine to be delivered and setup? Used equipment can be usually be arranged, rigged up and on its way as soon as your financing is approved.

Can I lease a 3D coordinate measuring machine?


We know companies have different needs, different cash flow patterns, and unique and sometimes irregular streams of income.

Regardless of the current interest rate environment, we have a solution to help you acquire the metrology equipment and measuring machines your business needs.

What about used CMMs? Is leasing an option?

Virtually any equipment and machinery can be leased. Some tax breaks are only available for new equipment, but there are many other beneficial options available when you lease.

What are some of the benefits of leasing measuring equipment?

·      Prevent Equipment Obsolescence
·      Keep your lines of credit open
·      Lower Down Payment
·      Include installation, freight, maintenance, software, etc.
·      Keep more money for revenue generation activities
·      Increase Profits while maintaining cash reserves
·      Depreciation Benefits
·      Speed - Get the CMM you need - now

What are your current rates and how can I get more information?

If you’re considering purchasing a new or used CMM or other measuring equipment in the near future you can sign up for our monthly loan rate updates right on our website

If you have more questions or need to go over your specific business needs feel free to reach out to me directly at 800.866.1469 or email me at Matt Borman.

We also have some resources that you can access right now including an instant quote, a tax benefit calculator and a downloadable credit application.

About Tech Financial Services, Inc.

Tech Financial Services, Inc., a division of Five Lakes Financial has been providing financing solutions to the best industrial and manufacturing companies in America since 2003.

With decades of personal experience in the machine tool industry they understand the economic and organizational issues facing distributors, manufacturers, and end-user customers. Their expert finance staff provides competitive financing alternatives specific to the needs of smaller manufacturing companies.  More information can be found at or phone 800.866.2469 or visit 840 N 3rd Street, Suite 500 Milwaukee, WI 53203.