Wednesday, July 15, 2015

CMM Certification and Calibration - Why? What? When? Who? How?

Considering a service provider to certify and calibrate your metrology equipment?

Your quality department has a written policy stating the exact interval of service your CMM needs to adhere to in order to maintain accuracy. Having a service provider do this means you know the performance of your CMM is precisely up to its specifications like ISO 10360, ASME, or VDI / VDE and you don’t have to have your own people trained in another complex procedure. In some cases 3rd party service providers are equal to CMM manufacturers’ service departments, in other cases, maybe not.

What do CMM certification and calibration entail?

All CMM service providers compare the errors of your Coordinated Measuring Machines against known standards. In the case of CMM Certifications, any errors will only be verified and reported to you. In the case of a full CMM Calibration, they are verified and corrected. Depending on the service provider you choose, their capabilities and certification levels will vary. The minimum accreditation you should look for is the industry standard - ISO/IEC 17025. The article, Calibration vs. Certification from Quality magazine covers the definitions in detail. 

When should CMM Calibration be done vs. CMM Certification? 

The frequency of service of CMM calibration or CMM certification depends on what your quality program requires. Typically, the rule of thumb given by most manufacturers calls for a full CMM calibration every 2000 hours. This works out to about once a year based on an estimated usage of one eight-hour shift per workday. Eight hours per day X 5 days per week = 40 hours a week. 50 weeks X 40 hours = 2000hrs.

Who should do the calibration and certification of your CMMs?

That depends.

If you just need to verify potential machine errors against a known standard, this could be done with equipment like an MCG (Machine Checking Gauge) system for CMM performance monitoring. You could get your own system and train your own people. This gives you the ability to easily verify your CMM is okay after a collision or in between your regularly scheduled service intervals. This level of testing can be done in as little as 10 minutes in many cases and gives you interim verification of volumetric accuracy to ISO 10360-2 standards.  

It will also definitively show you when you need to have 3rd party or factory calibration services and could save you money and downtime as a result. So, in many cases an MCG could be a good investment, even when you’re on a regular measuring machine maintenance and calibration plan. 

Do you require full calibration to ISO 10360 standards?

If your quality system requires full calibration with any errors found also corrected, how that is done depends on the company performing your CMM calibration. They may use measuring gage blocks or a ballbar. Additionally, because calibration also includes correcting the errors, in some cases this may require adjustment of the CAA (Computer Aided Accuracy) or error map. In some cases it may require mechanically correcting errors and even re-lasering the error map for complete correction.
Depending on what the calibration entails, this may not be something a typical 3rd party CMM service provider can do, as they may not have enough experience with the internal workings of certain CMMs or adequate programming knowledge of your software. In these cases getting the service performed by the manufacturer is the best course of action.

Is your CMM service partner familiar with your machine & software?

On the other hand, if they regularly retrofit your specific measuring machine model type and sensors or program the metrology software you use, they may be just as capable as the manufacturer. In any case, using an accredited service is usually much easier and more cost-effective than obtaining the training, equipment and certifications needed to do it in-house. But you have to do your homework.

Obviously, as users of the measuring equipment, you want the machine to have the highest accuracy, maximum availability, and most economical lifecycle-cost possible. 

Poor calibration & certification could mean shipping bad parts

Shipping bad parts or producing scrap is directly impacted by the quality department and can cost much more than ensuring your quality system and processes are at their highest standards. Catching bad parts before shipment and giving feedback to the manufacturing processes are a couple of reasons to implement stringent quality standards that include regular metrology calibrations and certifications. 

Servicing your CMM in a perfect world vs.  reality

In a perfect world you would, of course, have your CMM serviced exactly on the established interval your quality department dictates and you would have the most complete preventative maintenance procedures done in the shortest amount of time possible. This would, in theory, give you perfectly measured parts and 100% uptime. The reality is a bit different.

It looks more like this - create a workable CMM service interval that meets quality requirements, guarantees accuracy creates as little downtime as possible, and stays within budgetary constraints. So, how do you do that?

Choosing the right CMM Certification and Calibration service provider

The answer then is a strategy where you partner with a fully-accredited and experienced service provider equipped to perform calibrations with the least amount of downtime while identifying an intelligent PMs (preventive maintenance) that will keep your CMMs accurate and maximize your uptime. Your service partner needs to hold the certifications that are dictated by your quality department. If you need them to be an ISO 17025 accredited company and have the ability to perform complete ISO 10360 calibration, this gives you a specific pool of available service providers. 

9 Questions you need to ask when choosing your best CMM servicing partner

Does the CMM service provider have expertise in the following:
1. Can they mechanically make adjustments to the machine if necessary?

2. Are they able to adjust the error map of the measuring machine?

3. Are they able to use the laser system to remap the CMM when required?

4. Are they aware of the various service notices for your machine types?

5. Do they have the necessary tools to perform the calibration?

6. Do they have access to the latest firmware updates for the controller?

7. Do the technicians have access to factory training for the CMMs?

8. Does the service provider have experience with a variety of CMM types and manufacturers?

9. Do they have technicians who can do calibration and certification on site?

Is Wenzel America the best choice as your Coordinate Measuring Machine Service Partner? 

There is a good chance our technicians can perform any calibration needed on any CMM you own, no matter what make or manufacturer or software you use.

We not only sell and service Wenzel CMMs, but, because of our legacy in upgrading used CMMs and recycling good granite with new software and sensors, we have unique experience and flexibility with other company’s CMMs as well. We’re pretty confident you’ll discover we may be the best choice for your CMM calibration and certification partner no matter your specific needs.

And if you want to set up in-house verification we also have the best prices on Renishaw MCG systems. Just fill out this quick form and we’ll get back with you within one business day.

Questions about CMM Calibration and maintenance services? Send us an email at or call our service department @ 248-296-4300.

What Human Trait is Most Valuable to the Future of Manufacturing?

Raise your hand if you have the exact job, doing the exact thing, you imagined you would be doing as a child?

Is your hand up? No? Yes?

Ok, if it is, now keep it raised:
  • If you live exactly where you thought you would as a kid?
  • How about your car? Is it the car you always said you’d have?
  • How about your family? Did you marry your childhood sweetheart?
Hmm. I don’t see anyone with their hand still raised.

Now, hopefully that little exercise didn’t fill you with too much regret. That’s definitely not my point. My point is, despite all those differences between our plans and our actual outcomes, we did okay.

In fact, we may even have thrived. 

But how can that be?

Maybe it’s because - Just because plans change, that doesn’t mean we’ve failed.

After all, it’s not always obstacles or failures that change our plans.

Sometimes plans change because of opportunities.

Opportunities that lead to:

  • New Ideas.
  • New careers.
  • New experiences. 
  • New products.

I’m sure there are lots of people smarter than me that have more scholarly explanations for this, but I think it all boils down to one very valuable human trait - Flexibility. 

Flexibility lets us tackle unexpected challenges, explore new opportunities and follow new passions we never imagined we’d have.

Translated to the world of work this may mean starting new business ventures, finding new clients in unlikely places or facing a change in the market that requires a new and more agile approach.

  • Flexibility of thought and action lets us navigate these changes smoothly.
  • Flexibility lets us move forward - by moving sideways - or even backing up. 
  • Flexibility helps us find growth in a down market by focusing on our core competencies.
  • Flexibility helps us reimagine our products and services to take advantage of new trends and new innovations. 
Flexibility is a core value at Wenzel America.

Flexibility drives what we do everyday, not only with our products, but with our services as well. 

We help our customers maximize their capital resources by helping them be flexible too, so they can adapt to a changing work environment and always be prepared for new market demands and innovations.

Whether you need to mix and match software and hardware solutions or find the best CMM service partner for your calibration and maintenance - we will help you find the best tools, processes and people to fit your specific needs, now and down the road.

None of us know what the future holds for us personally and with the technological advances we’ve seen just since the start of this century, we certainly have no idea what the future holds for the workplace or our industries. 

Seems like a good idea to partner with people and companies who’ve proven they’re flexible and able to help their customers handle the obstacles and opportunities that will inevitably come. That’s what we look for in partners and we think you should too.

Did you miss our One-of-a-Kind Metrology Event?

Here's a recap and video overview of everything that happened

Attendees at our recent open house had a behind the scenes look at how seven metrology measuring machine and CMM inspection methods fit their manufacturing needs. Also on hand were representatives from Automation Alley, Southeast Michigan’s technology business association and business accelerator and Fisher/ Unitech, the leading distributor of Stratasys 3D printers.

What happens when you take a single, specially created, 3D-printed part and measure it with each of the seven major metrology technologies now available?

Everyone at our Metrology Matters Live! Open House event last month discovered exactly that. 

The 3D-printed part, co-created by engineers from Wenzel and Fisher/Unitech’s 3D printing experts, was tested using touch trigger CMM, tactile scanning CMM, 5 Axis Scanning CMM, white Light Inspection, Laser Scanning, High Speed Scanning and CT Inspection.

“The part was designed specifically to show the strengths and weaknesses of each metrology technology type,”  Andy Woodward, Wenzel America President said. “Our purpose is to help guide the customer towar d the technology that is going to best help their manufacturing processes.”

The finished inspection reports were made available in hardcopy for all attendees. We'll also be publishing the full tech overview and individual reports along with videos of each metrology machine  and measuring technology over the coming months for anyone not able to make the open house in person. Get on our list and don't miss out.

People at the live event witnessed a very special demonstration area showcasing each of the metrology measuring machines running an inspection on the exact same 3D-print ed part. 

We're pretty sure no other metrology company has ever done this type of side-by-side comparison of metrology machines and technologies.

“We created a special technology scorecard as part of the event,” Drew Shemenski, Wenzel America’s Regional Sales Manager, told us. “This allows customers not only to discover what is the best metrology tool, but what is the best tool for them and their specific application.”

Along with the live demonstration of the metrology and CMM inspection results,  manufacturers were also able to learn more about the latest 3D printing technology available from the leading Stratasys dealer, Fisher/ Unitech. They showcased the Stratasys Objet Connex, the printer they used to print the unique part for the event and the uPrint SE, a smaller 3D printer.

Also on hand were Automation Alley, Michigan’s largest technology business association that connects government, business and education to drive the growth of Southeast Michigan’s economy. Attendees learned about the value of this 1,000-member networking resource and the nearly half a billion dollars in international contracts it has brought to the region since its 1999 inception.

About Wenzel America

For more information about Wenzel America contact Andy Woodward at 248.295.4300 or email

Are You Ready for the Smallest Footprint Air-Bearing CMM Possible?

In response to customers and the manufacturing market’s need for a highly accurate, air bearing coordinate measuring machine that will take up as little valuable shop floor real estate as possible, we've just launched the XOplus 5.5.5 SF.

4 Big Reasons smaller is better with the new XOplus 5.5.5 SF 

Do you make small parts? 

We have customers who make small turbine blades for example. Parts like this require a coordinate measuring machine with 500mm or 20” cubic volume, simple tool set-ups and need no space for change racks. 

Is shop floor real estate valuable? We know it is. If you’re like our customers, you need to keep the amount of shop space occupied by machines to an absolute minimum. It’s just too expensive.
Do you need the accuracy of an air bearing CMM? Now our customers don’t have to make the sacrifice of accuracy from a mechanical bearing CMM vs. air bearing to get the small footprint.
Is your shop floor vibration free? If you’re like most customers we’ve talked to, the fact that an air bearing CMM has built in dampers (the air bearings themselves) to isolate the machine from variable and unpredictable amounts of floor-born vibrations is a big deal.

If you need it, we will build it - well, at least in this case

Up to now this machine didn’t really exist, but we are renowned for our flexibility and customer responsiveness. So, after many conversations with our customers and requests for this exact set of features in a smaller coordinate measuring machine, we consulted with our engineers and craftsmen at Wenzel Group and lo and behold the XOplus 5.5.5 SF was born.

All the features of the XOplus CMM family - only smaller

coordinate measuring machine

Of course the structure of XOplus is the same as our regular, all-granite XO CMM measuring machines with new covers on the X- and Y-axes and a few other modifications.

If you haven’t guessed, the SF initials stand for Small Footprint rather than Shop Floor. Having said that, the shops we install in are pretty clean these days and most have some rudimentary temperature controls in place. Let’s not forget that the all granite structure of the Wenzel frame offers excellent temperature stability in varying temperature conditions and that the Wenzel XOplus family offers an excellent price/performance ratio.

More unique features that you won’t find in any other CMM 

  • The XOplus 5.5.5 SF only has a 20” cubic volume. 
  • The controller and PC are housed in a special stand under the machine. No separate desk is required saving even more floor space. 
  • The monitor, keyboard and mouse are installed on a swivel arm and fully adjustable to suit the operator. 
  • Wenzel’s precision all-granite structure guaranteeing good measuring performance even in varying temperature conditions. 
  • Occupies less than 45 inches by 55 inches of floor space. 

OK, that’s all good, but can I get it custom?

There’s no one size fits all and we’re not going to say, “You can have it in any color you want as long as you want black.”

  • For one customer we recently customized this unique small footprint CMM by adding: 
  • Touch screen monitors 
  • Special placement of main power switches 
  • And … even custom paint colors 

Of course these special, tailored versions can only be made with multiple machine purchases, sorry, no one-offs if you want it customized.

But, we’re obviously flexible and responsive, so let us know exactly what you need - whether it’s a single coordinate measuring machine or a customized solution you’ve never seen anywhere else. You never know, we might surprise you - and say “Sure, we can build that.” Get in touch and let us know your quality needs.