Metrology retrofits: Why the best new technology may be what you have already

Although investing in equipment involves significant outlay and is never a decision to be taken lightly, one of the major plus points of purchasing a stationary coordinate measuring machine (CMM) is that the frame – the machine’s main structure – is not subject to significant wear. As a result, CMMs can remain in service for many years and customers typically have plenty of time to see return on the investment.

However, with the pace of technological progress today, the machine structure will see many other changes around it during its lifespan. Equipment, inspection techniques, production methodology and operator skillsets may all change around it. Although the frame might remain fundamentally sound, other vital elements of the CMM – like the software, electronic controllers and probing equipment – can become outdated or even obsolete long before the business is ready to purchase a replacement machine.

This is why Hexagon Metrology offers a line of dedicated retrofit controllers for CMMs. Drawing on more than 50 years of industry knowledge, we have created these controllers specifically to upgrade existing measuring machines to modern standards, offering significant savings compared to the cost of new equipment. Critically, these retrofit solutions are not limited to just Hexagon Metrology CMMs. In fact, the state-of-the-art RC1 and B5 controllers can be fitted to equipment of practically any brand and type, and still make a huge difference to the performance. Similarly, software and probes can usually be updated to the latest versions without the need for major adjustments to the rest of the machine, breathing new life into aging equipment.

While the idea behind retrofits seems simple, and the process can completely transform old CMMs to meet the accuracy, speed, productivity and efficiency demands of modern industry, the potential benefits do not end there. Retrofits can also add functionality to a system. Our retrofit controllers support touch-trigger probing, analogue scanning, temperature compensation and dual-read functions, as well as a wide range of contact and non-contact sensors. Advanced motion control features allow rapid movement around the part and smoother, faster scanning.

Software upgrades can also make a huge difference to the usefulness of a CMM. The latest platforms enable CAD-driven programming, which provides automated inspection processes and optimised measurements with lower operating costs. Modern graphical reports add more functionality, while Hexagon Metrology’s retrofit controllers also support I++-compliant software.

Of course, no retrofit solution can be effective without the support of skilled engineers to implement, calibrate and set up the CMM. But with Hexagon Metrology’s global presence extending to over 70 precision centres globally, customers around the world are taking advantage of our local service and support teams. Our aim is to be where customers need us, offering services that make a difference. From calibrations, certifications and geometric compensations, through servicing, repairs and mechanical adjustments, to complete retrofit solutions, we protect equipment to protect our customers’ investments.

Filippo Racciu

Filippo Racciu is responsible for project management and business development activities for the Aftermarket Product Line at Hexagon Metrology. He joined the company in 2012 with 15 years’ experience of international direct sales, marketing and business development in the automation and metrology industries.