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Coordinate Metrology Society Turns 30

Ron Hicks, Chairman of the CMS Conference Committee and president of API Services

Ron Hicks, Chairman of the CMS Conference Committee and president of API Services.

If it’s been a while since you’ve been acquainted with the term metrology, you may recall it is the science of measuring objects. Applied industrial metrology focuses on measuring instruments, their calibration and quality control measurements for purposes of designing, testing and manufacturing objects.

This summer, the Coordinate Metrology Society (CMS) will celebrate its 30th anniversary at its annual conference. Taking place July 21-25 in North Charleston, SC, conference organizers expect to welcome an international audience of around 500 metrologists, manufacturing executives, quality managers, scientists, students, educators and other industry professionals.

“I’ve only missed about five of these conferences in the last 30 years,” says Ron Hicks, Chairman of the CMS Conference Committee and president of API Services. In fact, six years ago, Hicks found his latest job through networking events offered at the CMS Conference.

At the 2014 CMSC Measurement Zone, attendees will be able to take part in a just-for-fun hands-on Laser Tracker Competition to see who can measure a part and complete a design model most accurately and efficiently Other interactive activities in the Measurement Zone will include training in Portable Arm measurement applications, and access to the National Physical Laboratory’s coordinate measurement courses on e-learning workstations.

During the conference, CMS will also conduct its Fifth Annual CMS Measurement Study, which is still under development.

Evolution of the Industry

Hicks says the enormous changes in portable measuring technology over the last 30 years are largely because of the advances in both the measuring instruments themselves and in computer technology.

Quick Conference Details

The 2014 CMS Conference will showcase state-of-the-art portable 3D metrology technology, including articulated arm coordinated measurement machines (CMMs), laser trackers, laser radar, photogrammetry/videogrammetry systems, scanners, indoor GPS and laser projection systems.

Besides access to more than 40 exhibitors at the trade show, attendees can choose from a wide variety of events, including technical paper presentations, metrology solutions and services, industry updates, user group meetings and educational workshops.

The CMS Conference’s educational program includes dozens of technical papers and presentations covering successful applications, best practices and research and development in the field of metrology.

“Thirty years ago, design engineers had limited options,” Hicks recalls. Back then, engineers used manual measurements, or an optical alignment instrument like a theodolite or precision piano wire to establish the exact location of a point on an object. Hicks adds that turning obtained data into something useful was quite the time-intensive process.

“Today, we have very accurate portable scanning systems that can quickly take millions of 3D points from all around an object, and create an accurate CAD file that can interact with another object’s CAD file,” he says.

Hicks says there will be new technological advances introduced at the CMS Conference, but companies who attend the trade show typically wait until the conference to unveil their latest improvements.

“Any portable measurement system on display will probably be even more rock-solid and have an even better software user interface than last year,” he predicts. “In addition, advances are being made on equipment that can actually probe inside an object to measure interiors and hidden points.”

3D Metrology Certification Program

At its 2013 conference, the CMS launched the Level-One Certification Program for Portable 3D Metrology. This proctored, online assessment covers foundational theory and practice common to most portable 3D metrology devices. The CMS Certification credential aids in quantifying knowledge of metrology.

At this year’s conference, CMS will also offer a Level II Certification, which will involve hands-on use of a portable CMM measurement arm under a proctor’s supervision. Hicks says the rigorous practical test will ensure the individual can produce accurate results.

“We’ve been working on this certification program for the last five or six years,” he explains, noting that it came about because often it is shop-floor employees, rather than engineers, who need to operate the equipment and help interpret the results. Both the equipment and the software are very technical.

“Over the years, representatives from many different industries have asked CMS to develop this certification system, which will allow them to be confident an employee can successfully perform the required tasks,” Hicks says. Now employers can actually search for CMS-certified metrologists on the organization’s website.

The CMS Measurement Study

The 2013 Measurement Study evaluates how decisions made during and after measurement affect the final result. Download a summary of the report, “Non-Contact Scanning: How Data is Affected by the Decisions We Make” here: cmsc.org/2013measurementstudysummary.

Lynne Brakeman is a freelance writer based in Northeast Ohio. Contact her via de-editors@deskeng.com.

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