Dimensional Metrology Critical to Prime Machine Inc. Improvements

Assembly of James Webb telescope with Prime Machine craftsmen at ATK clean room

Dimensional Metrology Critically Important to Prime Machine Inc.

The Laser Tracker and Laser Scanner ability to collect accurate dimensional data have been critical to the development of Prime Machine.  Prime Machine from the 90’s have been producing large machined parts.  The measurement of the part features became critical to accurately machining and producing functional parts.  The real and multiple functionality of accurate three dimensional measurements became apparent immediately and we began to use the Laser measurement technology in our industrial services in 2001.  Our craftsmen gained experience completing difficult measurements tasks in the harshest of environment’s and are now some of the best in the industry.

Some functions include:

  • Machine tool and process equipment alignments, calibration, diagnosis, wear trending, and geometry.
  • Complex surface analysis of 3-dimensional objects. Comparisons to digital cad models, or creation of cad models from surface data. (Reverse engineering)
  • Tooling layout, assembly, and diagnosis. (Multi-frame vantage comparisons)
  • Multiple set-up machining of single or multiple parts.
  • Collation of data taken from different positions, temperatures, and time-span to establish trending or conditional changes in position, size, alignment, or wear. Hot/cold, loaded/unloaded alignment condition information, soft foot/structural integrity checks in real time.
  • Align equipment to gravity vector (level) with extreme accuracy.
  • Eliminates other less accurate and more time consuming ways of large part inspection and alignment.
  • Unlimited size measuring capability, using strategic relocation techniques.(Portability)
  • Overcomes previous physical measurement, and engineering barriers. Do things that were previously impossible.

At Prime Machine, Inc. in Salt Lake City, Utah, our philosophy is to keep stepping in the right direction.

  • Certification of our machine tools.  Verify all machine, line and encoder compensation, along with machine geometry. (Specifically some of the manual machines where ball bar testing can not be utilized, the laser works very well.)
  • Using Laser Measurement  with dimensional software we best fit a mold for the X34 space plane to 3D CAD model to determine if mold could be used in as is condition after being shipped across the country, for lay up of graphite fiber wing skin. After establishing the deviation condition of the mold, we were able to anchor and manipulate it to minimize the actual error, to the CAD model it was created from.
  • Leveled our granite surface inspection table using a real time data watch window in a third the time it took using optical level.  The watch window made the job a one-man operation.
  • Inspected large gearbox bores for parallelism and distortion after the box sustained a major crash.  The box was inspected in place, which saved the cost of removing, sending to shop, and setting up on a machine tool for inspection.
  • Installed a custom filament-winding machine.  The tracker was used to position surfaces and locate components accurately.
  • Used the data collected by the Tracker to reverse engineer a high-speed centrifugal compressor impeller.  Down loaded data toUnigraphics version CAD system to develop CNC-machining programs
  • Inspect condition and profile of 20′ Babbitt mill bearing on 24′ V.T.L., for match machining the mating surface to existing bearing profile.
  • Oriented field machining boring bar to a gear box output shaft located 30 feet from area requiring machining, which needed to be in line.
  • Measured forward and aft rocket motor adapter rings after machining to verify true position, surface flatness and feature dimensions.
  • Check alignment and shell condition of ball/rod mills and rotary kilns and dryers while in operation to determine action necessary to correct problems.
  • Align steam barrel and internal components in Delaval steam turbine, inspect case condition for bearing and seal alignments, and splitline flatness.

The Tracker has been a big step in the right direction.  Improvements in shop accuracy, increased Customer confidence and shop efficiencies.  All these projects have been accomplished because of the embrace of laser measurement and new sophisticated computer measurement software.  The rapid collection of data with the ability to quickly graphically represent the data is impressive and exciting.