Enabling efficient reverse engineering with a portable measuring arm

Engineering company uses the quick scanning of an Absolute Arm to verify parts and capture them for optimisation in CAD

Image of person using a Portable Measuring Arm to scan a part, the scan is displayed on a computerscreen
Modellteknik has been serving Swedish manufacturers since the early 1960s, offering a range of services from 3D product design, to machining of small to large components, to inspection and verification.   

Image of a person looking at a scan of a model on a computer screenOne of the company’s specialities is contract manufacturing, often involving short-run or one-off manufacturing of complex components. As such, delivering on short lead times is crucial to Modellteknik’s business. With the Absolute Arm, Modellteknik found a portable measuring arm solution that could meet this key criteria as they brought reverse engineering into its range of services.

In Eskilstuna, Sweden, Modellteknik has an advanced machine shop with ten 5-axis milling machines plus two robot controlled machining cells. The company has the capability to machine material such as steel, castings, aluminium and plastics on their multi-purpose machinery.

Although Modellteknik could draw on great experience and expertise in CAM preparation and CAD design, they wanted to find a solution that would meet an increasing demand for reverse engineering. “Even though we had the knowledge,” says Anders Larsson, Measurement Technician at Modellteknik, “we didn’t have the equipment to quickly handle reverse engineering ourselves until we began to use the Absolute Arm to scan in components.”
The fact that the measuring arm is portable means that we can also go out to our customers and scan products on site, so they don’t have to pick them out and send them to us The ideal solution would also deliver quick inspection capabilities. As Anders observes, Modellteknik was “looking for ways to verify incoming goods and it was clear we had an increased need for scanning.” The right technology was discovered at a Hexagon industry event, HxGN LOCAL Scanning Day, where new scanning technologies are showcased alongside presentations from metrology experts. “At the HxGN LOCAL event, we noticed the flexibility offered by the Absolute Arm with tactile probing and an integrated laser scanner,” says Anders.

Enhancing customer products

Alongside its inspection capabilities, the Absolute Arm’s suitability for reverse engineering brings a new level of offering to Modellteknik’s customers.

Image of a part that is shaped like a boxWhen Modellteknik receive a part that is damaged and has no original design drawing, the Absolute Arm enables the technicians to quickly capture the data points for the creation of a fully-realised 3D drawing in the SolidWorks CAD software. This quick scanning gives the designers at Modellteknik more time to spend optimising the drawing and the final product. As Peter Zazis, a designer at Modellteknik observes: “There are always minor discrepancies on old tools. They can be worn after having been used for decades and may have indentations and other issues. You don’t want to have old damage in your CAD model.” The designer uses the 3D CAD design to digitally remove any unevenness, cracks, or other issues in the worn-out tool.

After the correct radii to be used in machining is added to the CAD design, the new design is loaded into a CAM program for milling and further production of a new, optimised tool. “We haven’t just bought a product,” says Anders. “We’ve bought a complete package that helps enhance collaboration with our customers.”

Not only is the Absolute Arm helping to optimise customer products, it’s also saving customers time and effort. “The fact that the measuring arm is portable means that we can also go out to our customers and scan products on site, so they don’t have to pick them out and send them to us”, says Peter Zazis. “Everything is possible.”

Image of software on screen showing a 3D model

A fruitful partnership

Modellteknik had already collaborated with Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence before they purchased the Absolute Arm. The partnership dates back to 1996, when Modellteknik bought a Hexagon coordinate measuring machine (CMM), and a GLOBAL Classic bridge-type CMM has been in use at the workshop since 2008. These machines use Hexagon’s PC-DMIS metrology software, which is protected and regularly updated by a software maintenance agreement (SMA).

These machines, along with the Absolute Arm, are calibrated regularly by Hexagon’s engineers. Furthermore, Modellteknik’s staff get their skills and expertise enhanced with Hexagon training in PC-DMIS, portable measuring arms, and CMM handling.

With Modellteknik’s staffs’ skills being continually brought up-to-date and machines performing at maximum capacity, the future looks bright for this 50+ years stalwart of the Swedish manufacturing industry.