Measuring large

Author CTE Staff
February 10, 2023 - 03:00pm

Stalybridge, England-based engineering company Park Engineering Ltd. has significantly increased the size of parts that it can machine and subsequently measure on a coordinate measuring machine. This capability follows the installation at the start of 2022 of two new machines: a Spanish-built Correa Fox 50 five-axis machining center with a 5 m × 3.25 m × 1.6 m (16.4'×10.7'×5.2') working envelope, which is nearly 16% larger than the prior largest machine, and an Altera M 30.20.15 CMM with 3 m × 2 m × 1.5 m (9.8'×6.6'×4.9') axis travels built by LK Metrology Ltd. in Castle Donington, United Kingdom. (LK Metrology Inc. is in New Hudson, Michigan.) Compared with the biggest of three LK CMMs previously operated by Park Engineering, this machine offers twice the measuring volume.

Park Engineering specializes in the design, manufacture, assembly and certification of tooling jigs and fixtures for the aerospace, nuclear, defense and automotive industries, so the company is accustomed to managing large components. It also provides subcontract machining services. When looking to invest in new technology to offer even larger capacity, there was a desire to inspect the bigger parts on a CMM platform rather than a portable measuring system, which may have a big measuring volume but is usually lower in accuracy than a CMM.

Park Engineering first encountered LK Metrology in the mid-1990s when buying a 10-year-old, 2.5 m × 1.5 m × 1.2 m (8.2'×4.9'×3.9') capacity G80K CMM. Its performance, coupled with LK Metrology’s ability to provide control and software upgrades, prompted the purchase a few years later of another used LK CMM: a G80C.

Measuring large

The metrology department continued in this vein, adding a new LK Integra 10.10.8 with a measuring volume of 1 m × 1 m × 0.8 m (3.3'×3.3'×2.6') in 2007 for quality control of small, tight-tolerance aerospace components.

At the time, Park Engineering conducted all its activities at a factory in Reddish, England, but the company relocated in the second half of 2021 to larger premises owned by Hyde Group in Stalybridge. In the process, the company decided to upgrade its machining and measuring technologies and capacities, which included retiring the two older CMMs and replacing them with a new, bigger machine. Because of his long-term experience with the reliability of LK CMMs and its customer service, Quality Manager Will Reeves said he examined other CMM suppliers but saw no reason to change.

“The process only served to underscore LK’s reputation and reaffirm the trust we have in them as a preferred supplier,” he said. “The fact that it is a U.K. manufacturer is an added benefit as it means that the in-depth engineering expertise in the factory is local to us, should it be required.”

Reeves said discussions with LK Metrology soon identified the ideal size of the new CMM to be installed: the Altera M 30.20.15.

“The increase in speed and accuracy of the Altera M, which is around six times faster and 216% more accurate than the oldest of our previous CMMs, was a great selling point,” he said. “But we were also delighted to have a larger-capacity CMM with a smaller overall footprint.”

LK Metrology
Will Reeves, quality manager at Park Engineering, sets up an aluminum free-form surface-profiled part for measurement on the LK Altera M 30.20.15 CMM in an air-conditioned room. Image courtesy of LK Metrology

In day-to-day operations, the Altera M CMM supports the inspection of large parts with drawing tolerances of typically ±50 µm (0.002"), but it is sufficiently accurate to measure smaller parts with tolerances as tight as ±10 µm (0.0004"). Irrespective of tolerances, LK Metrology’s software application Camio, with its user-friendly operator interface, allows CNC programs to be generated either online or offline for the inspection of batch quantities, further reducing inspection time and cost, especially when CAD models are available.

“Across the broad spectrum of work packages, we have access to CAD models approximately 50% to 60% of the time, with the remainder being work to print,” Reeves said. “However, the provision of CAD models is something we are always encouraging our customers to provide as it minimizes the risk of incorrect data being entered due to human error during the programming process.”

He said Camio also saves time by automatically generating comprehensive reports that Park Engineering is able to send to customers with inspected components.

“The professional appearance of the documentation adds to the perceived professionalism of the service we provide,” Reeves said. “The new metrology platform is significantly more productive than our old G80K and the G80C put together, as well as being more accurate. Along with the Integra, it puts Park Engineering in a good position to provide metrology support not only to our own production but also to external customers that want subcontract measurement support now and into the long-term future.” 

Related Glossary Terms

  • computer numerical control ( CNC)

    computer numerical control ( CNC)

    Microprocessor-based controller dedicated to a machine tool that permits the creation or modification of parts. Programmed numerical control activates the machine’s servos and spindle drives and controls the various machining operations. See DNC, direct numerical control; NC, numerical control.

  • computer-aided design ( CAD)

    computer-aided design ( CAD)

    Product-design functions performed with the help of computers and special software.

  • machining center

    machining center

    CNC machine tool capable of drilling, reaming, tapping, milling and boring. Normally comes with an automatic toolchanger. See automatic toolchanger.

  • metrology


    Science of measurement; the principles on which precision machining, quality control and inspection are based. See precision machining, measurement.

  • quality assurance ( quality control)

    quality assurance ( quality control)

    Terms denoting a formal program for monitoring product quality. The denotations are the same, but QC typically connotes a more traditional postmachining inspection system, while QA implies a more comprehensive approach, with emphasis on “total quality,” broad quality principles, statistical process control and other statistical methods.

  • sawing machine ( saw)

    sawing machine ( saw)

    Machine designed to use a serrated-tooth blade to cut metal or other material. Comes in a wide variety of styles but takes one of four basic forms: hacksaw (a simple, rugged machine that uses a reciprocating motion to part metal or other material); cold or circular saw (powers a circular blade that cuts structural materials); bandsaw (runs an endless band; the two basic types are cutoff and contour band machines, which cut intricate contours and shapes); and abrasive cutoff saw (similar in appearance to the cold saw, but uses an abrasive disc that rotates at high speeds rather than a blade with serrated teeth).


CTE magazine staff

News items authored by Cutting Tool Engineering have been written or edited by the editors of Cutting Tool Engineering magazine. The reports represent material submitted to CTE by outside authors, and edited by CTE editors for style and accuracy.