Derbyshire-based LK Metrology
, a leading coordinate measuring machine (CMM) manufacturer, is celebrating its 58th anniversary this year as a fully independent company again, following a change of ownership in 2018.
The company, which pioneered CMM technology, is also linked to a number of innovations including ceramic bridge design, air bearing and granite guideways, carbon fibre composite spindles and horizontal-arm coordinate measuring.
The new proprietor, Angelo Muscarella, who also runs Italian firm ASF Metrology, said, “We are delighted to find ourselves entering the fourth year of operation in April 2021 with a healthy order book. Revenue met budget in the last financial year and we even made a profit, despite incredibly difficult trading conditions due to the pandemic. Machine service and upgrade activities actually performed ahead of budget every month since July 2020.”
LK has made great strides growing its product range in the last three years. In 2020 it entered the articulating-arm 3-D metrology system sector with the launch of a range of six different ‘Freedom’ arms with six size options.
Earlier introductions included the SCANtek 5 version of the ALTERAM CMM with Renishaw REVO-2 probe as well as a brand new product, AlteraC 10.7.5, in three sizes. The latter range lowers the price of entry to LK CMM multi-sensor inspection technology and has recently been enhanced in terms of accuracy and speed of measurement.
Two further notable introductions have been made on the software side. The company's DMIS-based CMM programming software, now called CAMIO 2021, has been given enhanced features in five important areas, helping to increase inspection productivity, improve the quality of data collected and gain better insight into the components being measured.
Prior to that, LK introduced the Metrology Gate portal, a web-based platform consistent with the aims of Industry 4.0 that enables inspection activities performed by connected metrology devices to be monitored and controlled around the clock from anywhere in the world.
A new MTConnect adapter has just been made available to allow users to add their LK CMMS to existing dashboard applications in their factories that previously were only able to display information on machine tools.
In the USA, an expanded dealer sales network has been established by LK's Michigan subsidiary involving nine new companies and 20 facilities.
Considerable sales success has been achieved in this market, a case of note being the supply to an automotive OEM of a CMM capable of 0.8µm measuring accuracy throughout a 1,500 x 1,000 x 800mm measuring volume, a level of performance that competitor CMM suppliers were unable to match. The installation is supporting the inspection of machined automatic transmission gears and shafts prior to their transfer to an assembly line.
Meanwhile, sales in Asia continue to be strong, major corporations throughout Europe have resumed investing and activity levels are high in Russia and South Africa. In all markets, the automotive and aerospace industries are particularly buoyant. In addition to new machine sales, retrofit projects and the renewal of service contracts boosted LK's revenue globally. Approvals and new products
The ASF Metrology group has completed ISO 17025 accreditation, the main standard used by testing and calibration laboratories around the world, which places the LK team of service engineers in the accredited list. The company also recently passed the ISO 9001 audit without a single non-conformance. Furthermore, after two years of endeavour, the CMM manufacturer has been officially registered for the Russian market through its local sales partner in Moscow.
At the end of 2020, a new stylus cleaner was introduced to remove contamination from the stylus tip automatically during a measuring cycle. Called LK StyliCleaner, it takes just 30secs to remove any debris present to ensure accurate metrology. Due for imminent release are two new horizontal-arm CMMs, one a conventional machine and the other of layout configuration, as well as a new range of large, gantry-type CMMs.
The past year has given LK Metrology an opportunity to concentrate on R&D in the areas of new CMM sensors, accessories, software integrations and other new products to enhance its offering. Work is at an advanced stage on the development and integration of a new laser scanner and several derived products for deployment on static CMMs and articulated arms. Ease of use will ensure that the benefits of laser scanning will be routinely exploited, even by inexperienced operators, and a competitive price structure should lead to their widespread adoption.
Inspecting the quality of machined parts often involves the verification of surface roughness, which historically has been checked using either handheld roughness sensors or dedicated set-ups in a metrology laboratory. Both are manual disciplines that require skill and are subject to variation.
Moreover, as they are time consuming, often only a small number of samples out of a production batch can be measured. With the integration of a roughness sensor on a CMM, the measurement would become part of the inspection programme and therefore automated, repeatable and fast enough for 100% inspection.
Development of this technology including the associated software, without using top-end, expensive scanning probes, is currently a focus of attention at LK.
Additionally, a third-party 2-D vision probe with plug-and-play integration is being introduced, with LK showrooms in Portugal and Sweden already able to perform demonstrations. It is particularly applicable for quality control applications in the electromobility sector.