Sub Micron CMM Provides High Precision Inspection for Prototype Manufacturer

Located in the Bavarian town of Roding, Germany, Stangl & Co. GmbH often only has a few days to manufacturer prototypes and small batches featuring the necessary high-level of precision to fill the orders it receives from around the world. For the past several months, the company has been using the ZEISS XENOS, a high-end measuring machine, to ensure the quality of its products. It is the first company in Europe to do so, joining the laboratories and research institutions that have invested in this coordinate measuring machine launched by ZEISS in 2014.

The challenge: a significant increase in the measuring load

While the ramp up for mass production allows for multiple adjustment loops so that the machinery accommodates manufacturer requirements, prototypes must be within tolerance right from the get go. “This makes the manufacturing process exciting, like a good mystery,” says Andreas Löffler. This industrial engineer at Stangl & Co. GmbH is responsible for quality and process management. If just one characteristic is not within tolerance, then companies are forced to invest a lot of time and effort in finding the cause, e.g. calculating the interactions of individual components or eliminating unwanted effects by performing adjustments in other areas. “This means a lot of work that eats up valuable development time which you simply do not have if you want to compete globally,” says Löffler. This explains why the time and resources devoted to measurements during prototype construction has increased tenfold over the past five years. And that is not all. “The requirements for documenting the measuring results have kept pace with the effort needed for the measurements themselves.”

The solution: reliable measurements with the ZEISS XENOS

To demonstrate to their customers that workpieces had been manufactured to specification, Stangl & Co. GmbH used to commission an external service provider when there were extremely demanding precision requirements. This service provider would then inspect the manufactured prototypes on a ZEISS PRISMO ultra. “The process always went smoothly, but it limited our flexibility,” says Löffler. To get results more quickly and outdo the competition when it comes to quality assurance, the mid-sized Stangl & Co. GmbH became the first manufacturing company in Europe to invest in a ZEISS XENOS. “This ensured that we were off to a flying start when it came to precision,” explains Stefan Kulzer, one of the company’s two Managing Directors.

The benefit: faster troubleshooting

With the ZEISS XENOS, the length error is just 0.3 micrometers with a measuring range of just under one cubic meter. Thanks to this high level of precision, Löffler and his colleagues can, for example, determine if workpiece clamping has caused a roundness error. “This makes troubleshooting a lot faster and ultimately optimizes all our processes,” says the Quality Engineer. Another system feature also impressed the company: measurements on the XENOS are performed more quickly thanks to the machine’s linear drive. In order to speed up the measuring process even further, ZEISS developed a rotary table for the ZEISS XENOS. This add-on  makes the measuring machine in Roding one-of-a-kind, reducing the number of stylus change outs, even when inspecting highly complex components. “We’ve already noticed how much time we’ve saved,” reports Löffler.

ZEISS XENOS uses an innovative silicon-carbide ceramic for the parts of the machine structure relevant to accuracy. Compared to the standard aluminum-oxide ceramic, silicon-carbide ceramic exhibits around 50 percent lower thermal expansion, up to 30 percent higher rigidity and 20 percent less weight. Compared to steel, it delivers twice the rigidity at half the weight.

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