Established in 1991, and headquartered in Hamamutsu City, Shizuoka, Japan, MSK. Inc. (MSK) is a prototype manufacturer of sheet metal parts for various industries and applications. MSK’s facilities overlook the city’s natural landscape, offering a magnificent view of the surrounding mountains and water bodies. This location also puts MSK close by to the headquarters of Suzuki Motor Corporation and Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd., as well as musical instrument makers such as Yamaha Corporation and Roland Corporation among others, which are located in neighboring cities.
The lifeblood of MSK’s business revolves around manufacturing sheet metal prototype parts and components for four- and two-wheeled automobile vehicles. Ranging from engine parts to brackets and bike frames, each component undergoes various rigorous testing and experiments for collision and performance before final modifications are made to the prototypes. “At MSK, we listen to our customers’ needs before proposing the prototypes, which are made from materials and with methods that are within their budget considerations and total lead-time,” explained Mr. Kentaro Ota from the Prototyping Division at MSK. “We cater to all kinds of prototypes,” he added, indicating the company’s intentions to expand its current business scope of manufacturing prototypes for automobile vehicles, to include prototypes for musical instruments and agricultural equipment.
In the past, measurement tasks at MSK were carried out using conventional two-dimensional tools such as calipers and height gauges. The measuring process was time-consuming because the parts that MSK worked with varied widely in size and came in complex shapes. Furthermore, the parts had to be positioned in a specific orientation, which took up more of the operator’s time. Amidst other measurement challenges that MSK faced with using manual methods, there was a pressing need to incorporate computer-aided designs (CAD) within prototype manufacturing, and also an increasing demand for precision parts. These push factors led MSK to consider incorporating coordinate measuring machines (CMMs) in its workflow. Eventually, MSK acquired a FARO Platinum Arm and began evaluating the quality of their parts with 3D contact measurement methods.
Since integrating the FaroArm to its manufacturing operations, MSK has reduced the amount of time spent on positioning components, setting up measurement devices, and performing the actual measurement process. A job that used to take half a day to complete now only requires one to two hours, allowing MSK to enjoy significant time-savings. The FaroArm has also enabled the manufacturer to expand its business portfolio, as MSK can now accept more complex prototype projects that it previously was unable to handle. Furthermore, the metrology device provides detailed measurement reports on a component’s status, enabling MSK to move away from subjective intuition towards objective figures. Pleased with the benefits that they gained through the portable CMM, Mr. Ota shared, “The FaroArm has made quality standards more ‘visible’, and our operators are more motivated to refine their craftsmanship as a result. I am confident that our prototypes’ quality has improved.”
The FaroArm can assist manufacturers in measuring complex components.
As the usage of CAD increased at MSK, internal requests for reverse engineering grew, sparking another search for a metrology device that is capable of this application. Due to the team’s positive experience with the FaroArm earlier, MSK was keen to purchase a new device to meet these requests. After considering various CMMs from different providers, MSK introduced the FARO Edge ScanArm HD in December 2015, welcoming yet another FARO device into its fold. Mr. Ota elaborated, “Aside from its scanning capability, the Edge ScanArm HD is equipped with an LCD for immediate inspection of parts requiring only simple measurements, without the need for computer support. Its lightweight and easy-to-use features also made the device suitable for our female colleagues.”
A MSK employee demonstrates the use of the touch panel for simple measurements without a computer.
The Edge ScanArm HD uses blue laser to improve its scanning performance, allowing operators the ability to scan glossy, dark, and strong contrasting colored objects more easily. The device’s enhanced scanning speed significantly reduces its scanning time, and the non-contact scanner offers MSK new capabilities to digitize 3D-printed objects and to perform point cloud comparisons with CAD. Separately, the Edge ScanArm HD’s accompanying metrology software can also be pre-programmed, making it convenient for recurring measurements. MSK intends to provide training for their staff to ensure that all operators can uphold their measurement standards. The company will also focus on reverse engineering applications by making improvements to the metrology software.
The Edge ScanArm HD scans a 3D-printed prototype for CAD comparisons
As MSK receives more projects for large welded components, the team is thinking of using the Edge ScanArm HD to check for weld distortions. “In the past, MSK relied on its experienced welding artisans to make necessary adjustments based on instincts honed over the years. However, that is not an ideal situation when it comes to the imparting of skills to our junior employees. There needs to be a way to document these steps via our measuring machines, to assist our senior staff in explaining the various outcomes that may arise from carrying out different welding techniques,” said Mr. Ota.
Over the past 25 years, the company has bore witness to the dynamic transformation of the welding industry – from using mock-ups and wooden molds to create prototypes, to achieving machine-designed prototypes with the use of 3D data. In moving with the times, MSK has retained its competitive edge by employing the latest technologies such as CAD, NC machining centers, and CMMs. Since integrating the FaroArm into its measurement processes, MSK has seen distinct improvements in its quality standards. As the President of MSK puts it, “It is not enough to just manufacture components. Quality assurance must be factored into the equation.”
Not one to forget its roots, MSK now combines modern measurement technologies with its conventional methodologies. Mr. Ota concluded, “Sometimes, final detailed adjustments to prototypes are still carried out manually. While we have incorporated and leveraged on the support that technology can provide, we still honor and cherish prototyping traditions in some ways.”
Established in 1991, MSK is a prototype manufacturer of sheet metal parts. Besides providing components for the automotive industry, the company is also expanding its business in other fields. MSK offers high-quality and short lead-time manufacturing solutions to meet customers’ needs. With the experience of its highly-skilled technicians, the company strives to provide one-stop development support – from design to prototyping – which involves press, sheet metal, machining, 3D modelling, and many more applications.
For more information: http://www.MSKinc.co.jp/
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