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Blue Laser Technology Improves On-Machine Tool Measurement Solutions

Renishaw has announced that it will showcase its second-generation NC4+ Blue non-contact tool setting solution at EMO Milano 2021 (4th – 9th October 2021). The new system will be one of many smart factory process control solutions demonstrated by Renishaw, which are proven to help machine shops across many industries transform their production capabilities.

Building on the success of the original NC4+ Blue launched at EMO Hannover 2019, the latest evolution of the non-contact tool setter features an ultra-compact design and is now available in four sizes, with operating gaps ranging from 55 mm to 240 mm. Measurement repeatability has also been improved across the range, now down to +/- 0.5 micron on smaller separations.

Improved Machining Accuracy

Featuring industry-first, blue laser technology and improved optics, Renishaw’s NC4+ Blue systems deliver significant improvements in tool measurement accuracy, ensuring components can be machined more accurately and efficiently.

Compared to red laser sources found in conventional non-contact tool setters, blue laser technology has a shorter wavelength resulting in optimised laser beam geometry. This enables the measurement of very small tools, whilst minimising tool-to-tool measurement errors – a critical consideration when machining with a wide range of cutting tools.

Rapid, robust and reliable measurement

NC4+ Blue systems use Renishaw’s non-contact tool setting software package, which continues to evolve to ensure rapid, robust and reliable measurement even in wet conditions. Auto-optimisation technology within the software automatically adjusts the movement of the tool in and out of the beam to minimise any wasted movement and therefore cycle time. While features such as a dual measurement mode, where the tool is measured as it exits the laser beam and an advanced tool cleaning option, help ensure the tool is free from debris and coolant during measurement. Further enhancements to tool run-out and profile measurement cycles deliver increased functionality and reliability to advanced users.

Superior optical protection

The interior of a machining centre is a hostile environment with coolant drips, swarf chips and dust commonplace. Coolant mist can saturate the air and quickly coat any exposed optical surfaces. Whatever their optical design, laser tool setting systems need clean optics and an unobstructed beam path in order to function.

The NC4+ Blue uses MicroHole™ and PassiveSeal™ optical protection technologies, enabling fast and reliable tool measurement, even in wet conditions.

MicroHole technology ensures the optics are protected from contamination during measurement by delivering a continuous stream of compressed air through a very small and precise laser-drilled hole in the transmitter and receiver heads. The PassiveSeal system provides an additional layer of protection, automatically shielding the optics from contamination in the event of air supply failure. It uses a simple pneumatic installation that minimises any need for maintenance.

Simplified programming and reporting – Industry 4.0 ready

NC4+ Blue support is now embedded into Renishaw’s extensive range of graphical user interfaces, including on-machine and mobile apps including Renishaw’s Set and Inspect and GoProbe. These consistent, easy-to-use programming platforms are perfect for users who are new to probing or have little machine code knowledge, whilst still offering operational benefits to more experienced users.

Renishaw technologies provide the data that enables intelligent decision-making for Industry 4.0. On-machine tool measurement allows manufacturers to automate and optimise their processes and minimise quality problems and CNC machine stoppages. With the latest version of Renishaw’s on-machine Reporter app, users can now view historical tool data captured by the NC4+ Blue and stream the measurements in real-time. Results can also be exported via CSV file or PDF report and either stored for traceability or imported into in-house quality analysis software.

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