Air to the Rescue The Air Assist Movement System can increase the productivity and throughput of a CMM, allowing for faster measurements without heavy lifting. It appears Plato was right. Necessity continues to be the mother of invention. As with many products, the Air Assist Movement (AAM) System from Mod Tech Industries Inc. (Shawano, WI) came about because of simple need. Unlike many products, however, it was initially developed just for internal use and only later sold to outside customers. Mod Tech wanted to get more use out of their coordinate measuring machine (CMM) to speed the measuring process, says Jay Samolinski, sales manager at Mod Tech Industries. “About three years ago, out of necessity and production needs, we at Mod Tech said, ‘how can we enhance our CMM to get the most out of our operating parameters?’” As a machine shop, they are measuring parts constantly—typically with substantial set-up time on a CMM— but they make money by making parts, not measuring them. To that end, Mod Tech developed the AAM system. They built plates with air channels, and then were able to rotate parts in and out of the measuring system with the AAM rotational pallet system. The system itself consists of two plates, locator stops, bumpers or guiderails, and an air supply and control system. The concept is to allow for the measurement of a manufactured part or parts located on one AAM plate in a measuring location, while another product is simultaneously being set up or staged on a second plate. After the fi rst part measurement program is complete, it is moved via the AAM plate from the measuring location to its home position by fl oating on an air cushion. The second plate is then relocated to the measuring location by the same process. At this time the fi rst plate is now available for another part setup. As soon as operators are done measuring the fi rst part, 15 to 20 seconds later they are prepared to start measuring again. With a previous method, operators would have to set up a part, measure it, tear it down and then set up again, but the AAM system allows them to set up simultaneously. With the recommended air supply, an AAM plate can lift and move more than 1 ton. All loading and unloading of product is done at waist level of the operator, and it allows better maneuverability of the lifting device. The system also is removable, which allows for fl exibility in using the CMM. When Quality spoke with Mod Tech, they had sold their fi rst system the week before, and reception to the machine has been positive. During demonstrations, many people had said, “Why didn’t I think of that?” says Samolinski. Given the current economic climate, Mod Tech decided to promote the product to others who may have experienced a similar need. Potential customers may love the system but be unwilling to invest in new equipment Now because of their limited purchasing power, Samolinski says. Instead of buying a new CMM, customers could buy the $15,000 to $20,000 AAM system to get more out of their current one—making the product a good fi t for today’s budgets, Samolinski says. For those with new CMMs, the system would allow customers to double its output and get the most out of their investment, instead of having it sit idle 60% to 70% of the time. Use of the AAM system also may help the CMM last longer. The bridge and probe can be moved out of harm’s way during loading and unloading of parts to prevent potential damage, Samolinski says, thus avoiding probe and complete head replacement, along with downtime. Parts and fi xtures now are placed on the AAM system plate, which preserves the granite table because there is no direct contact to the granite surface aside from the plate in its rest state, and it reduces the potential to drop a part directly on the granite surface. An hourly employee can now measure parts and run the CMM, freeing the skilled staff to write programs, formulate data and make decisions based on that data, Samolinski says. The system would be a fi t for machine shops, foundries, plastics manufacturers or anyone who measures parts or products.
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