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Renishaw Equator gauging system reduces inspection times for NIMS trainees

Posted on 04 Nov 2023. Edited by: John Hunter. Read 288 times.
Renishaw Equator gauging system reduces inspection times for NIMS traineesTo ensure student skill levels meet current manufacturing industry standards, many trade schools in the USA have aligned their training with certification from the National Institute of Metalworking Skills (NIMS) — a non-profit organisation that helps organisations improve overall performance by ‘empowering educational institutions to validate training with practical experiences that reflect what individuals will face once they enter the metalworking industry’.

To help support this initiative, global engineering technologies company Renishaw has developed an Equator gauging system package that significantly improves the inspection of NIMS parts. Spencer Black, an instructor at the Enoree Career Centre in Greenville, South Carolina, said: “Using the Equator gauge to measure NIMS parts has been hugely beneficial. Previously, if a student brought me a part to check it might take me 20min to inspect in-house — if there are no interruptions. By using the Equator, I can now check a part in 3min; and when we earlier had a problem with the system that I couldn’t resolve, Renishaw engineers made sure we were back up and running as quickly as possible.”

To validate the students’ machined NIMS parts, all features are measured. These include geometric dimensioning and tolerancing (GD&T), as well as plus or minus tolerances; and only when each measurement meets specification does the part pass inspection. Once a student passes both inspection and a technical test from an instructor with a NIMS Inspector credential they receive their certification. However, conventional inspection was invariably creating a bottleneck in the certification process, with teachers having many parts to inspect and inspectors often taking up to two weeks to return the parts.

Clint Smith, a former NIMS teacher, who now works with Mastercam, said: “On the courses I have run at NIMS schools, you can have around 30 students who, during their 10-month course, can gain six or seven ‘credentials’; that requires a lot of parts to be measured. However, my circumstances were such that these were sent to a local metrologist or machine shop that would use a CMM to measure and report on quality.”

Essential time saving

Mr Smith continued: “This often took a couple of weeks because the businesses prioritised client work, resulting in a frustrating wait for students. To address this delay, NIMS partnered with Renishaw to develop the NIMS educational package, which features the Renishaw Equator gauging system, along with fixtures, styli, and prewritten programs.

Renishaw“The Equator gauge is a flexible system that provides speed, repeatability, and ease of use for manual or automated measurement in machine shop environments; and because it has an integral re-mastering process, the system does not require annual machine calibration.

“Moreover, the prewritten and proven gauging programs provided by Renishaw include those for each part required for NIMS certification; the Equator package also includes styli, two metrology fixturing plates, and fixtures that can fit all 13 parts, providing everything needed to inspect the NIMS parts — and the system features an operator interface that allows easy program selection and execution, along with a clear display of results. Renishaw has now provided multiple packaged systems to USA high schools and technical colleges that offer NIMS certification, as well as in-house industry apprenticeships.”

Highly engaged students

Scotty Nicholson, technical training manager at Renishaw Inc, said: “Creating the NIMS package and introducing teacher training has enabled colleges to improve their training programmes; and by adding metrology into the machine tool certification, students can not only better validate the parts to an industry standard but also benefit from immediate feedback. Over time, this means we will have highly engaged students who will be more employable in the future. Introducing the package also brings recognition to the NIMS programme, as we can provide evidence that the training reflects current manufacturing practices.”

Mr Black concluded: “The NIMS certification is integral for students that want to get into the manufacturing industry, and it is the only machining certification I know of. If a student misses one small detail, the part is scrap and they have to start again, which can leave them feeling deflated after working on it for weeks. However, using the Equator gauge, I can check a part in minutes, and we can improve their part quickly, while also helping them understand the measurement process which, in my experience, is a side of machining that people don’t often think about.”