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F1 subcontractor accelerates quality control

A portable arm with a 2m reach is halving inspection time on large components for an established F1 subcontractor.

Founded in 2011, toolmaking and subcontract machining company GT Tooling spent one year using conventional manual metrology equipment to measure the components it was milling and turning before investing in a 3D articulating arm – a 6-axis model with a reach of 1.2m.

Three years later when the company moved from Petersfield to a bigger factory unit in Fareham, the company invested in a machining centre with 1,651 x 762 x 762mm travels, which meant that larger prismatic parts being produced had to be inspected in two operations.

Although satisfactory, the procedure was time-consuming and risked the introduction of errors due to the necessity for arm relocation. So in May 2022, a Freedom Classic Scan portable arm with a reach of 2m was purchased from LK Metrology, Castle Donington.

GT Tooling was introduced to this UK coordinate measuring machine (CMM) manufacturer by nearby Mech Metrology & Power Tools, which calibrates the toolmaker's inspection equipment and supplies it with conventional metrology tools such as verniers and micrometers.

Greg Simmonds, joint owner and director of GT Tooling comments: "We considered manually-operated and CNC CMMs. However, the repeatability of measurement on the former was not good enough while the latter did not offer sufficient flexibility of use.

"Neither type had the reporting capability that was up to our standards or those of our customers. We also felt that programmable CMMs were better suited to series production, whereas we machine mainly one-offs and small batches.

"We therefore decided to stay with portable arm technology, but instead of returning to the incumbent supplier we chose LK. We were keen to take advantage of the aftersales service for which they are known and we also like the PolyWorks Inspector reporting software supplied as standard with LK Freedom arms, which is particularly easy to use.

“Simply by pulling out the required dimensions and pressing a button, reports can be manipulated freely into different, easily-digestible formats to suit each customer's preference."

The precision engineering firm has held ISO 9001 quality management certification since the beginning and takes inspection and measurement very seriously, not least because it is heavily involved in supplying Formula 1 teams during the off-season.

During that period motorsport accounts for a large proportion of factory throughput, mainly the manufacture of patterns, jigs, fixtures and aluminium soft tools for producing composite race car parts.

Other industries served include aerospace, automotive, food and beverage, while rubber and injection moulds are manufactured in tool steel for a multitude of sectors. Stainless steel is also machined, as are exotic alloys, copper and its alloys, carbon fibre and engineering plastics.

Article originated in Production Engineering Solutions

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