The Renishaw Equator system has now found a home in the manufacturing operations of some of the world's top firearms manufacturers for production of handgun barrels, frames, and slides, as well as some lower and upper AR (Armalite Rifle) components.
The Equator system takes a simple concept of using a master (known) part and couples it with a highly repeatable and versatile structure for fast, flexible gaging on the factory floor. Along with Renishaw's IPC (Intelligent Process Control) feedback, the Equator system allows the gaging to update the machining process for immediate feedback without a need for manual offset adjustments.
Based on an easily scalable and adaptable "parallel kinematic" structure, the Equator system allows high speed scanning and rapid moves between features, while retaining stiffness that delivers impressive point to point repeatability, critical for accurate gaging.
"With rising production demands, gun manufacturers are designing new products, as well as ramping up production to meet demand. We support many manufacturers of gun components, both at an OEM level and the supplier level," said Ian Raupach, District Solutions Manager, Renishaw, Inc. "The Equator system offers the flexibility to scale appropriately without too much in the way of dedicated fixturing. In some cases, we have seen Equator systems deployed in a receiving inspection area, where parts can be sorted quickly without costly specialty gaging, CMMs or subjective visual inspection."
Installation of an Equator system takes minutes, and an operator can switch between gaging of different parts in seconds. Re-configuration of the gaging system to accommodate part design changes, or to measure new parts, is possible in a fraction of the time needed for conventional custom gaging, using industry standard DMIS programming.
"The Equator system has shined in this field because it provides real time feedback of the manufacturing process and provides flexibility to the ever-changing environment of the factory floor," added Raupach. "As designs change, it's a simple program adjustment. There is no need for dedicated precision gages, so decisions about process changes can be adapted to suit the immediate needs of manufacturing."
The flexible gaging concept is finding a home on today's automated shop floor. "We have seen a lot of investment going into firearm manufacturing facilities, including automation, new CNC mills, and in some cases, OEMs developing cells for trialing new technologies," added Raupach. "The Equator gauge is the flexible alternative to hard gaging, and at a fraction of the cost of a CMM. That makes it ideal for managing the process in the manufacturing cell to create a part flow that mitigates all the factors that create instability, including temperature, tool wear, and improper offsets."
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