It’s any shop’s worst nightmare – after winning a profitable contract on a large number of parts, you get to work, measure it the same way you’ve been doing it for years, send off the first shipment, and it comes back rejected. Your quality assurance is out of date and you can no longer produce components that meet today’s tolerancing standards. Too many factories continue to skate by with out-of-date technology, but as their clients’ expectations for quality increase, they quickly realize that they either need to invest in new measurement equipment or lose out on business.
A used CMM can help factories on a budget bring their quality assurance process into the 21st century, providing a quality, long-lasting machine at as little as half the cost of a new one. If you’re still using old-fashioned or manual measuring tools, you can’t achieve the kind of accuracy expected out of a modern shop, and it’s leading many who have been reluctant to change to face late deliveries or high costs due to scrap and rejected components. You can’t afford to make mistakes of that caliber, but you can afford a used coordinate measuring machine.
There are a number of brands of coordinate measuring machines to choose from, including Brown & Sharpe, Mitutoyo, and Zeiss. Zeiss, a German company, makes the Eclipse, Prismo, Spectrum, Contura, Accura, among other models. The Eclipse, a machine made in the 1990s, would still be a valuable investment for any shop today. Coordinate measuring machines are mechanically durable and can last up to 35 years, as long as you’re maintaining it properly. While you will have to replace things like the controller and the computer system, the machine itself is remarkably long-lasting.
For Zeiss CMM services like retrofitting or upgrades, your independent metrologist should be your first call. Metrology shops regularly perform retrofits on used machines to give shops the power of contemporary machines. For example, Canadian Measurement-Metrology (CMM) not only sells new and used coordinate measuring machines, they service and repair machines and offer a host of upgrade options that will improve your machine’s performance. With a used coordinate measuring machine, one of the most important upgrades you can make is software. Software is usually good for five to ten years, but if you’re using an obsolete program, you won’t be as competitive as a shop that’s reducing programming and measurement time with better software.
When you’re buying a used coordinate measuring machine like a Zeiss or any other brand, make sure you learn about the history of the machine and buy from a dealer that puts all of their machines through a rigorous inspection process, repairing any defective parts before putting it up for resale. Ask whether the machine was used in a lab or on the shop floor – older machines that were used on the shop floor may have trouble with the bearings or other critical wear and tear. If the used machine you’re buying has been upgraded recently, it’s typically a bargain, as the upgrades are often not reflected in the price. If you’ve had issues with rejected production runs in the past, it’s time to get serious about metrology and invest in a used coordinate measuring machine.