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Radio probe and tool-setting system boosts shop floor efficiency

Source:Int'l Metalworking News for Asia     Date:2021-12-03
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New in-machine measurement technologies released by Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division significantly increase the variety of probing and tool-setting options for manufacturers looking for efficiency gains in a variety of production environments. Hexagon’s multi-sensor machine tool measurement capabilities now include compact tactile radio probes and a flexible tool-setter that can be used interchangeably to identify and correct production problems early in the production process.

While in-machine measurement makes it easy to collect and quickly apply manufacturing data to work in progress, integrating probes and tool setters that match the requirements of a specific machining environment can be a challenge. Without access to metrology equipment that can accommodate tight machining envelopes, manufacturers strive for efficiency with limited inspection options, often with mixed results. With the launch of a new metrology system that offers both compact tactile measurement and tool-setting capabilities, manufacturers gain the ability to design in-machine inspection processes that fit their needs.


Hexagon’s versatile new m&h R-400 multi-sensor radio probe system can be used to fulfil both in-machine workpiece measurement and tool-setting requirements. The system can be used for a variety of purposes in a range of environments, including machining setups with any machine tool, the highly accurate measurement of complex free-form geometries with tight tolerances, and the checking of machine kinematics.

“Manufacturers struggle to gain efficiency with in-machine inspection when they don’t have the ability to customise their measurement processes. The goal of any shop is to squeeze every last drop of efficiency out of the production workflow — and that’s hard to do with one-size-fits-all technology,” said Manuel Müller, product marketing manager, sensors and components.


“A customisable and flexible system for in-machine inspection gives companies of any size the power to improve the quality of their products and processes without making disruptive changes,” Müller added.

The dual-purpose m&h R-400 probe system is the first tactile probe on the market that includes a built-in display. It provides status data at a glance, enables users to save or load settings, and makes it easy to switch between tactile-sensor and tool-setting functions. Designed for shop-floor flexibility, the system can be used as a radio probe by equipping it with a probe shank or as a radio tool setter by mounting it on a tool-setter base. In addition to offering flexible in-machine measurement functions, the probe can help cut costs by eliminating storage of replacement sensors, as only one device needs to be stored.

The system also features an illuminated ring that completely surrounds the probe body and lights up to indicate current performance conditions and activities, so that operators can easily see the status of the system. Including notifications such as “system ready,” “battery low,” and “probing,” the indicator ring makes shop-floor activity more efficient by providing immediate access to information that benefits workflow.

Designed to perform with precision in tight spaces, the m&h TP-R-400 tactile radio probe is available with three different measuring units. Configured for varied levels of accuracy and different styli configurations to suit specific measurement needs, the system is available with standard or highly accurate measuring units.


Additionally, an extension of up to 200mm in length can be used to bring the measuring unit closer to the measurement area. Despite the modularity and unique handling functions, the probe is extremely compact. With a diameter of only 40 mm, it fits into almost every tool magazine and is perfectly suited for use on small machines or applications with limited space.

Flexible tool setter with unique handling and mounting options

The m&h TS-R-400 radio tool setter measuring system is used to efficiently determine tool geometries such as tool length and radius on the machine tool. It also measures individual cutting edges and detects tool breakage.


With the m&h TS-R-400, measurement can be carried out both statically and dynamically. The measuring signals from the tool measuring system are transmitted via radio transmission over long distances to the receiver, free from interference. This ensures a streamlined process.


The tool-setter was designed for ideal use in modern production environment. Equipped with an all-round illumination ring, unique handling and a display on the probe, configuration changes and status checks of the system have never been easier. Additionally, equipped with a separate shank, the TS-R-400 can even be converted to a regular 3D touch probe.


Different mounting types are available for installation in the machine room, such as quick mounting on a pre-mounted base plate or directly on the machine table.


Multifunctional radio receiver for the complete machine tool multi-sensor portfolio

The radio receiver m&h RC-R-100 communicates with radio-wave touch probes in the 2.4 GHz range and can be easily mounted in the machine room.


The receiver supports bidirectional communication for up to 8 probes on the same machine. It can communicate with all kinds of Hexagon probing systems and sensors, including tactile probes, temperature probing systems, ultrasonic probes and laser scanners. Because of this, the m&h RC-R-100 is the centre piece of Hexagon’s machine tool multi-sensor technology, enabling the use of more than one sensing technology on the same machine tool.


The receiver is designed for reliable transmission and ease of use, with innovative pairing options making it simple to install new or additional probes and sensors. Clearly visible LEDs on the front of the receiver help users to quickly recognise the current transmission quality and status of the probes being used.


Wireless laser scanner that works automatically with a tool changer

The m&h LS-R-4.8 is a wireless laser scanner for machine tools. Data is transmitted via radio to the machine control and measuring software, which is why the sensor can be changed in and out of the tool changer without any manual steps.

Accurate machine tool measurement typically involves capturing data for a limited number of points on a part. With a metrology-grade laser scanner integrated into the machine tool, users can quickly capture and analyse a complete, data-rich image of a part and act to address flaws while the part is still clamped. The results bring new levels of speed, precision and flexibility to machine tool inspection, while minimising the need for external measurement devices.

Equipped with a blue line laser, the m&h LS-R-4.8 quickly and precisely captures data equally well on shiny or dark surfaces. The design is optimised for the harsh environment in machine tools and the large field of view is ideal to capture all relevant areas of a clamped part.

In combination with the radio receiver m&h RC-R-100, the laser scanner can be used flexibly and is fully automated. In addition, other Hexagon sensors and machine tool probes can be integrated into the production process. 

Its intuitive, highly functional software is compatible with controls from Fanuc, Siemens and Heidenhain and supports measurements with up to 5 axes.

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