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Case Studies

Advanced Measurement Technologies Support Research of Precision Instruments

Advanced Measurement Technologies Support Research of Precision Instruments

Introduction

Main building of Harbin Institute of Technology (HIT).

Main building of Harbin Institute of Technology (HIT).

Research and development (R&D) in fundamental sciences is the driving force behind technological advancement and new technical applications. To that end, cutting-edge technologies often provide the added boost for R&D process enhancements. As the world’s leading measurement equipment brand, FARO plays a crucial role in impacting manufacturers’ production workflow, and makes significant contributions towards research and education.
 

Technological Advancement: Getting Acquainted with Harbin Institute of Technology

Located in Harbin, China’s Northern City of Ice, Harbin Institute of Technology (HIT) is one of the first institutions to be included in both “Project 211” and “Project 985”, nation-wide initiatives to augment the country’s institutes of higher learning. HIT is one of China’s major universities that focuses on technological studies, offering a variety of subjects across sciences, engineering, management, humanities, economics, and law.

HIT’s Department of Precision Instruments and Mechanical Engineering – one of the university’s founding faculties in the 1950s – was the birthplace for the HIT Center for Precision Instruments, a facility that specializes in large-scale geometric measurements. From as early as the 1980s, the center has been at the forefront of its field, pioneering research through the most advanced, three-dimensional (3D) coordinate measuring machines (CMMs) from Germany. As a result of the center’s activities, HIT was also one of the first educational institutions that brought a laser tracker measurement device into its midst. Today, the center focuses on conducting research and development for aeronautical and aerospace research institutes, and for assembly plants.

In 2007, in order to address the growing research and curriculum needs, the university decided to purchase a unit of FARO Laser Tracker and a unit of FaroArm for the center after careful evaluation. “We use the FARO Laser Tracker most frequently,” said Mr. Wang Jun, Laboratory Director, HIT Center for Precision Instruments. “It was professionally calibrated according to national standards by an agency in 2013, and it has maintained great precision, working well with no issue over the years.” He continued, “We have used the FARO Laser Tracker to carry out tests for projects in Nanjing and Beijing, and it has worked well. We strongly recommend the device to other organizations in search for a tool like this.”
 

One Tool, Multiple Applications

At the center, the FARO Laser Tracker is employed for large-scale geometric measurement research methodologies, including geometric measurements for device adjustments or project testing, qualitative characteristic measurements, as well as visual inspections.

With regard to geometric measurements, the FARO Laser Tracker is used in the coaxial adjustments of individual missile compartments. A missile typically measures over 10m in length, consisting of compartments that are assembled together after they are individually completed. Deviations arising from assembly for an object of this size must be carefully controlled to precision. For instance, should the angle of one docking surface differ by just a minute arc, the error could ultimately translate to several millimeters of deviation for an assembly of greater than 10m in length. In this case, where missiles are concerned, the level of error is unacceptable.

In order to confirm if the missile’s compartments are aligned, laser trackers are used to check whether the overall axis lies within the theoretical requirements of design. This important task was necessary but unachievable before the advent of laser trackers. However, the FARO Laser Tracker empowers users and also offers them impressive advantages. For one, FARO’s latest laser tracker offers a large measurement range of 80m that far surpasses the existing laser trackers’ measurement radius of 35m. Furthermore, the FARO Laser Tracker also provides micron-level precision that satisfies the accuracy requirements of the assembly project. As requirements for assembly become increasingly stringent, the usage of laser trackers is expected to grow.

Conducting visual inspections with the FARO Laser Tracker.

Conducting visual inspections with the FARO Laser Tracker.

Another common application of the laser tracker is in qualitative characteristics measurements, where an object’s 3D centroid is determined and its pose is calibrated. This application is particularly important for the aeronautical and aerospace sector, as is evident in the manufacturing process of an airplane. There are stringent requirements for the centroid of each component as they are built, and also on the overall centroid of the entire assembly after completion. In order to measure the 3D centroid of an object, it is necessary to roll the object around and view it from multiple angles. Due to the large difference in sizes – ranging from several meters for a small part, to more than 10m for larger components – it is impossible to use fixed CMMs or other measurement equipment to perform such tasks. Apart from providing portability and accuracy, the FARO Laser Tracker is capable of completing such measurements with ease. Mr. Wang commented, “This is a laser tracker-based measurement methodology that we created primarily for improving the measurement precision. In the past, an object’s pose was determined using equipment-based positioning, but we could not guarantee accuracy with that method.”

A further example of the FARO Laser Tracker’s capabilities is its ability to perform visual inspections. A double-axis, linear-lifting calibration device is often used to calibrate the charge-coupled device (CCD) sensor in a camera. By rotating and moving in a series of motions, the calibration device tests a camera’s response to the light that it emits. The camera’s quality index is determined through assessing the pixels, movement, and position of the calibration device’s light, as captured by the camera.

In this case, the FARO Laser Tracker allows users to measure the angle and linear deviation on the calibration device. For instance, to check that the device indeed moved 10cm downwards in a straight line, the FARO Laser Tracker can be employed to measure and verify the movement, as well as enable users to make accurate adjustments. Certified by an independent authority, the FARO Laser Tracker provides the faculty at HIT with an effective form of endorsement for their experiment set-ups. Alternatively, the FARO Laser Tracker can also be employed to assess a camera directly, using its coordinate system and laser beam. Measurement data collected by the FARO Laser Tracker is analyzed alongside shots taken by the test camera to determine its precision and position. In essence, the principles for this methodology are identical to that of the first scenario.

The FARO Laser Tracker tests the double-axis, linear-lifting calibration device, providing effective support for camera-based visual inspection.

The FARO Laser Tracker tests the double-axis, linear-lifting calibration device, providing effective support for camera-based visual inspection.
 

An Educator’s Vision: Keeping with the Times in Equipment, Technology, and Methodology

While discussing the role that the Laser Tracker plays in education, Mr. Wang earnestly expressed, “As teachers who are dedicated to coaching and providing answers to piercing questions, we often hope to impart all our knowledge to the students. This is not limited by the curriculum or textbooks, as it also includes our research experience. We introduce the usage of the FARO Laser Tracker in class and encourage students to operate and practice with the tool in laboratories. Our vision is to witness students majoring in Precision Measurement gain more knowledge on advanced measurement technologies and methodologies, making their learning path a complete process. Hence, aside from project research, the FARO Laser Tracker is a necessary auxiliary educational instrument.”

Advanced technology has its own charms. As a professional tool, the FARO Laser Tracker also has distinct appeal for industry specialists. “Our experience with the FARO Laser Tracker has been great, so we have strongly recommended it to our primary partners in aerospace research institutions and OEM plants,” Mr. Wang said. Even as FARO appreciates Mr. Wang’s support, the team is confident that FARO will continue to bring further delightful surprises to many more of its users who trust FARO in providing professional, high-precision measurements.
 

About Harbin Institute of Technology, Center for Precision Instruments

Located in Harbin, China’s Northern City of Ice, Harbin Institute of Technology (HIT) is one of the first institutions to be included in both “Project 211” and “Project 985”, nation-wide initiatives to enhance the country’s institutes of higher learning. HIT is one of China’s major universities that focuses on technological studies, offering subjects across sciences, engineering, management, humanities, economics, and law.

HIT’s Department of Precision Instruments and Mechanical Engineering – one of the university’s founding faculties in the 1950s – was the birthplace for the HIT Center for Precision Instruments, a facility that specializes in large-scale geometric measurements. From as early as the 1980s, the center has been at the forefront of its field, pioneering research through the most advanced, three-dimensional (3D) coordinate measuring machines (CMMs) from Germany. As a result of the center’s activities, HIT was also one of the first educational institutions that brought a laser tracker into its midst. Today, the center focuses on conducting research and development for aeronautical and aerospace research institutes, as well as for assembly plants.

For more information, please visit www.hit.edu.cn

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