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Robotic Structured Light Scanning Cell Inspects AM Sand Cores

Loramendi S. Coop, headquartered in Vitoria, Spain started its activity in 1973, and has been part of the Mondragon Corporation since 2005. Loramendi’ s activity is focused on the design and supply of global foundry solutions: sand core manufacturing equipment, vertical molding machines.

Principle customers are global automotive manufacturers (OEMs and TIERs) including BMW, Daimler, Volkswagen, Toyota, General Motors, Renault Nissan Group. The main products manufactured are cylinder heads and engine blocks, electrical housings, structural body parts, disc brakes, valves, and cores of different types.

Additive Manufacturing of Sand Cores

Loramendi started a project with a German OEM in 2010 for which they have developed an inorganic process which is a green casting technology that reduces emissions and strengthens the cast components. As a result of this project, Loramendi has positioned itself advantageously against its competitors for this type of solution. In 2016, they launched a new ambitious project related to the inorganic core manufacturing process comprising the industrialization of the sand core’s by additively manufacturing (AM). This project has allowed Loramendi to develop worldwide, the first sand core production-line using additive manufacturing technology. In this project, the need for the verification of the generated part geometry arises, a requirement that in the traditional process is obtained in a relatively simple way. But, in this new process, it’s one of the points that cannot be stabilized so easily.

Many Variable Affect Part Quality

In the case of AM there are many variables that affect the end result. The domain of these variables and their influence isn’t total, so Loramendi contemplated the option that the complete line should include a final inspection cell.

Metrology systems and solutions provider, Sariki, collaborated with Loramendi on the project, by implementing a core inspection cell that uses structured light scanning technology. SK/cell is a robotized inspection solutions, developed by Sariki, characterized by being automatic, flexible, and high speed. It’s capable of covering a wide range of part’s dimensions and geometries, and can be used both for verification of additive manufacturing parts, along with traditionally manufactured parts.

The structured light technology offers great versatility by allowing high-quality scanning of sand and resin materials. A validation process of the technology was carried out, involving many different parts regarding materials and geometries. SK/cell proved to be a complete solution for all the parts selected by Loramendi. “We have performed validation tests with different technologies and manufacturers, and we finally identified that the structured light technology was the one that best fits our requirements” states Ales Olea R & D Project Manager.

The additive manufacturing process allows both reducing the number of parts and optimizing their geometry topologically. SK/cell is a suitable option for this kind of manufacturing process, due to its flexibility and capacity for massive point data capture.

The part’s verification using traditional methods, was previously performed using conventional equipment and ‘go-no go’ gauges. Loramendi also outsourced measurements on an ad hoc basis. The robotic structured light scanning cell supplied by Sariki has allowed Loramendi to:

  • Optimize the part validation process
  • Digitize the inspection process
  • Become more agile when detecting errors and implementing process improvements
  • Generate more information to analyze trends and process failures in a more visual way
  • Pace manufacturing process by working at high speed and providing reliable measurements

The SK/cell comprises collaborative robot, structured light scanner, and the SK/inspect software, that allows the cell’s integral management and the complete part inspection process. The structured light scanner high capture speed, combined with the wide scanning volume, allows to significantly reduce the inspection time. The scanner is attached to the robot, which is suspended on a stand in a vertical position, in order to optimize the useful range of movement around the part.

SK/inspect is specifically developed to work in a CAD and ‘point-cloud’ environment. Once the scanner captures the point-cloud from the sand-printed core, it performs the complete inspection of the part. The software includes a web platform where users can view the results from remote locations away from the measuring cell, and it includes algorithms that automatically perform both the scanner’s calibration and the adjustment between the scanner and robot coordinate systems.

The complete line is installed in Loramendi’ s facilities in Vitoria; the responsible process-technicians have received the necessary training from Sariki to be able to operate and manage the inspection cell. Technicians have been performing different tests (changes of different variables) during the validation process, and the analysis of its impact on the part’s final result is being verified with the SK/cell solution which allows them to have all the information to identify if a part is within tolerance.

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