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China CMMs Moving Out of the ‘Stone Age’

China has become the largest market for coordinate measuring machines in past years with a plethora of domestic CMM builders supplying the market appetite along-side all major global CMM brands, many of which produce machines domestically in China.

Given that China has a plentiful supply of granite, and relatively low cost labor-force to product precision granite components, its no surprised that until recently all Chinese domestic CMM manufactures produced machines with exclusively granite structures.

Now the introduction of aluminum and ceramic frame bridge machine structures, are starting to be introduced to the market, to compete with the advanced CMM structures being offered by many of the leading western based CMM builders. With the ‘need for speed’ many western CMM manufacturers made the transition to aluminium and ceramic CMM structural components, away from granite many decades ago, but China had lagged due to the technologies involved in manufacturing these most critical parts from advanced materials.

Xi’an based RONGYUN has launched a range of bridge style CMMs with both X and Z axis produced from ceramic – a material long used by the CMM industry and with thermal properties similar to granite.

Qingdao based LEADER METROLOGY compliments its ‘all granite’ CMM ranges with its Tornado series of bridge CMM with X and Z produced from aluminum.

In addition Qingdao based METRO 3D offers its Super series of Bridge CMM with aluminum X and Y. Shenzhen based SEREIN, a division of Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence, also provides its Croma bridge CMM series with aluminium components as an alternative to its all granite’ structures.

The Chinese market is estimated to be some 4500 units per annum. Currently non of the domestic manufacturers have entered into the shop-floor CMM market, with mechanical bearings replacing air bearings, and a more open structure, allowing for their integration with automation, including robot loading. Shop-floor CMMs operate directly in the harsher production environment; with the advent of industry 4.0 the uptake of shop-floor CMMs in China is expected to increase dramatically over coming years as metrology moves further out of the quality lab and adjacent or integrated with manufacturing processes.