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Still Precisely Measuring After 80 Years

The most beautiful nostalgic equipment in the metal working industry – that was the aim for the photo contest of the Dutch consultancy organization P.K.M. Not just the picture itself, but also the story behind it was taken into account.

The contestants sent pictures of all sorts of equipment: an old press, a sheet metal roller, a drill press and a borer. Also an old computer with a double floppy drive of five and a quarter inch. “P.K.M. was thrilled with all the contestants: terrific photographs and beautiful stories. Of course there could only be one winner.” said the jury.

The winner was Nobby Assmann with a Zeiss measuring machine from the late 1930’s.

Nobby receives two days of bespoke consultancy. P.K.M. is a consultancy organization addressing topics such as company strategy, staff management, marketing, quality and sustainability. “A thorough advice about the strategy of our little company would be welcome.” the winner says. “We were consulted by P.K.M. earlier about our company’s succession planning. That was very helpful.”

Tool Shop With Strong Focus on Measuring

Together with his parents Nobby runs a small tool shop. The company offers services as wire EDM’ing, die-sinking EDM’ing, bore honing, flat lapping, flat and cylindrical grinding as well as contract measuring work. The winning antique measuring microscope is in the lobby. When you enter, it’s immediately clear that measuring is very important to this company. In the measuring lab Nobby inspects the company’s own products, but does contract work most of the time: inspecting the products his clients made.

“Measuring really is my passion.”, Nobby says. “The products I inspect are highly diverse – and so are my clients.” Last year the company acquired a modern CMM: a Zeiss Contura with VAST XT scanning head. “I really enjoy working with the accurate machine and the powerful software. In its own way the old measuring microscope is impressive as well: very precise and well engineered. I can stare at it for hours.”

An Old Zeiss with Many Tricks up its Sleeve

As if he were in love Nobby watches the mere 500 kg weighing device and gently strokes the matt black paint. “This is the original oak table – made by Zeiss. It came with the original manual printed on ultra-thin paper and illustrated by beautiful photographs, showing a wide variety of accessories. One special feature is the tilting of the workpiece microscope. It enables you to inspect a thread under the pitch angle. That is a useful feature that I have never seen before – not even on modern day optical or vision measuring machines.”

“The most special in my opinion are the readings of the X and Y axes.” You read the axes by 2 microscopes, both lit by an old-fashioned bicycle light bulb. “You can easily read thousandths of a millimeter. With a little practice you can even read tenths of thousandths of a millimeter. Hundred nanometers… by a machine of the nineteen thirties! Ain’t that something?!”

80 Year Old Design Still Up To Date

“It is wonderful to see how precisely ground the frame is. In a semicircular profile even – that is very impressive.” The guideways lie fully separated in the frame. Modern machine tools and CMMs tend to have stacked axes: one or two axes travel along another axis. That is far from perfect: deviations in the first axis (pitch, roll, yaw and straightness) have their effect on the following axes. So the old Zeiss has its X and Y axes fully separated. Nobby: “In the nineteen thirties they already knew this was the most precise way to build a machine.”

When asked if the machine is still in use, he answers: “I actually very rarely need to use the old measuring microscope. Sometimes it’s very time consuming or even impossible to measure a dimension with our CNC CMM or CNC roundness measuring machine. It is very rewarding to achieve your result in the old fashioned way, rather than with modern CNC equipment.”

Another First Prize – Measuring Hero Award from Zeiss

Last year Nobby Assmann won a world wide contest, held by Zeiss, by measuring the tiniest part: a part of a hearing aid of only 0,4 x 0,4 x 0,03 mm – made in his own workshop. “Winning that contest brought me a lot of interesting new contacts – and some challenging measuring jobs. I am excited to see what winning this contest will bring me.”

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