Since its maiden flight in 2009, the renowned Boeing 787 has been providing a quality travelling experience for air travelers around the world. The performance of the 787 Dreamliner can be attributed to its high-quality advanced components, of which approximately one-third of them are made in Japan. The heart of Japan’s aerospace industry is located at the Gifu and Aichi Prefectures in Central Japan. True to its image as the aerospace hub of Japan, Gifu houses the Aerospace Industry Division, an aerospace cluster that is centered at the city of Kakamigahara in Gifu. The city is also home to the Aerospace Science Museum and Japan Air Self-Defense Force, where an annual air show is put up by the fighter jets at the Kakamigahara air base.
The city of Kakamigahara is also where one of the oldest aerospace company, Nabeya Manufacturing Co. Ltd. (Nabeya Manufacturing), is based in. Founded in 1560 – the period when Nobunaga Oda defeated Yoshimoto Imagawa at the Battle of Okehazama – the long-established company has long cemented its place as one of Japan’s leading manufacturer in the aviation industry. Today, Nabeya Manufacturing’s primary business activity is still in aircraft components manufacturing, but it has also started developing a measurement service. Using the finest state-of-the-art 3D measurement devices, the company’s Measurement Division provides high-accuracy measurement services for a range of products, including aircraft components, automobiles, and power-generating turbines.
Previously, the team at Nabeya Manufacturing used to measure aircraft components using traditional handtools such as calipers and micrometers. It was challenging to do conduct inspection with manual methods, as these aircraft components possess free-form surfaces. Besides, due to a tightening of requirements over the years, now the components required to be delivered with a report created by 3D measurement devices. And while the team had access to a gantry-type coordinate measuring machine (CMM), some of the aircraft components were too large for the measuring plate, so the team still could not rely on it for certain tasks.
Commenting on their decision behind choosing FARO, Mr. Hiroaki Noda, Leader of Nabeya Manufacturing’s Measurement Division, explained, “We frequently perform measurements on aircraft components such as the fuselage and wings, and these parts can measure up to seven meters in length. These parts are too bulky to fit on the fixed CMM, and it became evident that we had an urgent need for a portable laser tracker.”
Since introducing the laser tracker in 2000, Nabeya Manufacturing has successfully laid out a framework for its division to support measurements of large components.
In addition to aircraft components, Nabeya Manufacturing recently expanded its laser measurement services to include inspection of automobile parts and tool jigs, alignment of large-scale energy machinery, and reverse engineering of turbine casings. In one of their alignment projects, Nabeya Manufacturing worked with SPring-8, a large synchrotron radiation facility in Harima Science Garden City in Hyogo, Japan. The team makes a trip to the facility to measure and align the equipment installed at SACLA – a an accelerator complex – in preparation for any upgrade plans the customer might have. The alignment of the accelerator is crucial in order for the facility to function, and the job requires the highest precision with a narrow alignment tolerance of 0.03 mm. Using FARO’s portable laser tracker, the team carries out measurements swiftly while keeping to a tight time frame, as alignment can only be done during a shutdown. Through this, Nabeya Manufacturing demonstrated its ability to go a step further to address its customers’ needs, providing not just measurement but also alignment services.
In addition to the measurement and alignment services, Nabeya Manufacturing also employ the FARO ScanArm to work on reverse engineering projects involving turbine casings, tools, and rotors for several customers – allowing them the flexibility to make design and specification changes based on the scanned data. Mr. Noda shared, “Increasingly, we are receiving more requests to scan the interiors of casings or components within them. These arise because our customers do not have existing CAD data for these old components and they want to modify designs based on a specific piece. We often deploy the trusty high-performing ScanArm for such jobs.”
Beyond that, the team engages in other various measurements projects using the FARO 3D laser scanner, such as the scanning of large structures and highway tunnels. As visual inspections in a dark tunnel can be difficult to perform, the team addresses this by deploying the FARO 3D laser scanner to record any cracks on the internal walls, seamlessly transforming the point cloud data into visuals. The team has even scanned the remains of a T-Rex for the National Museum of Nature and Science, and it helped the paleontologists reconstruct the bones with much more ease. Using FARO 3D laser scanner, the team was able to quickly obtain accurate 3D data of the T-Rex for reverse engineering.
As more manufacturers adopt automation and industrial robots in their factories, Nabeya Manufacturing observed a corresponding rise in demand for robot calibration too. Robot calibration is essential for maintaining accuracy of these industrial robots as they tend to drift from their intended paths over time. Using the FARO laser tracker, the team conducts dynamic measurements to check the precision of a robot’s movements, whether it reaches its exact programmed spot.
Mr. Noda and his team are pleased with the FARO measurement devices they have been using. He said, “The high portability of the equipment has allowed us to travel almost anywhere in Japan, and even overseas to support measurement projects elsewhere. 3D measurement devices are a must-have for any manufacturer, whichever sector you may serve, because even the smallest components require measurement data for delivery. The different measurement devices have helped support our varied measurement requirements.”
An employee scanning an antique lantern using FARO ScanArm.
Scanning the T-Rex remains at the museum.
Scanned 3D data of the T-Rex.
With a gamut of FARO measurement devices at its disposal, Nabeya Manufacturing successfully expanded its measurement business within a short period. On Nabeya Manufacturing’s future plans, Mr. Noda shared, “We need to keep up-to-date with the rapidly changing field of measurement technology, as well as its related devices and software, in order to respond to our customers’ needs efficiently. With the help of FARO 3D measurement devices, Nabeya Manufacturing will continue to grow year-on-year as we expand our business into the Kanto region of Japan.”
Established in 1560, Nabeya Manufacturing is a manufacturer of aviation-related tools and facilities, as well as aircraft manufacturing tools and machinery. Located in the Kakamigahara city of the Gifu Prefecture in Japan, Nabeya Manufacturing accepts measurement requests through its Measurement Division, not only from within Japan but also from overseas companies. With its Kyushu sales office opened in 2015, Nabeya Manufacturing has since grown to provide quality measurement services that are tailored to each of their customer’s needs, using portable 3D measurement devices such as the laser tracker.
For more information, please visit: http://www.nabeya-mfg.co.jp/
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