Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division today announced the launch of a ground-breaking new laser scanner. The Absolute Scanner AS1 pairs best-in-class accuracy and data quality with an automation-capable data collection speed of 1.2 million points per second and first-of-its-kind interoperability between portable arm and laser tracker systems. The AS1 is the ideal sensor for the aerospace industry – use the scanner mounted on an Absolute Arm to inspect ribs inside a wing structure, and then pair the same scanner unit with an Absolute Tracker to scan the large outer surface of the same wing for a more integrated and lower-cost quality process.
The AS1 is a modular blue laser line scanner that is the first in the industry to operate with both laser tracker and portable measuring arm systems. When used together with a Leica Absolute Tracker AT960 laser tracker, the AS1 can deliver scanning accuracy to within just 50 microns from up to 30 metres away, handheld or automated. For smaller applications, the AS1 scanner unit can be easily mounted to any existing current-generation Absolute Arm 7-Axis system, enabling precision scanning and hidden area inspection within a measurement volume of between 2 and 4.5 metres in diameter.
Tracker functionality for the AS1 is powered by a new handheld positioning unit, the Absolute Positioner AP21. The AP21 unit allows the AT960 tracker to pick up complete position and orientation information for the scanner. The AS1 can be quickly mounted to the AP21 using Hexagon’s patented kinematic joint – the same repeatable mounting system already found on Absolute Arm systems. This makes it possible for a busy aerospace inspection team to swap the same AS1 scanner unit on-the-fly from use on a tracker system to an arm system without the need for any time-consuming realignment or setup.
“In developing an upgraded laser scanner for our tracker systems, we wanted to bring the SHINE technology we developed for our portable measuring arms into the large-volume aerospace applications where trackers are needed,” said Duncan Redgewell, President, Metrology Devices at Hexagon. “The breadth of our team’s hardware expertise has allowed us to develop a solution that breaks down the established barriers between product categories, letting users enjoy best-in-class scanning performance across aerospace inspection processes that demand both arm and tracker functionality without the need to invest in multiple scanner units. The AS1 can be used in the same way and with the same high-quality results whether paired with our Absolute Tracker or Absolute Arm systems.”
The laser scanning performance of the Absolute Scanner AS1 is built on the proven Systematic High-Intelligence Noise Elimination (SHINE) technology that has already impressed aerospace customers since its introduction in the RS6 Laser Scanner for Absolute Arm systems in 2019. The SHINE concept enables extremely high-quality and high-accuracy data to be collected at full-speed on almost any surface type or finish at default exposure settings, including the highly reflective surfaces common in aerospace construction. This minimises the need to constantly toggle settings during the measurement process, as well as the associated operator training needs. With SHINE, the AS1 always delivers full performance – any surface type can be scanned at any time without the decrease in performance on difficult surfaces that is common with legacy products on the market.
The dynamic tracking performance of the Absolute Positioner AP21 unit means the newest Absolute Scanner is fully automation ready, allowing for high-speed blue laser scanning within automated cells and structures whether in-line, at-the-line, near-the-line or in the quality room – a vital functionality for the future of smart manufacturing in the aerospace sector. Hexagon’s network of registered and accredited integrators is prepared to develop custom automation systems for the aerospace industry based on this new metrology technology.
“Metrology-assisted automation is widely regarded as the future of manufacturing in aerospace,” said Daniel Moser, Technical Product Director at Hexagon. “Laser tracker-based systems have an important role to play in that future, primarily in ensuring the high quality and fine margins demanded by aerospace applications aren’t sacrificed in the pursuit of increased productivity. One of our key goals in developing the AS1 was to deliver a system that was built from the ground up with automation in mind, and that could be integrated into a wide range of automated manufacturing solutions for the aerospace sector.”
For Absolute Arm systems, the AS1 replaces the current flagship RS6 Laser Scanner, which will be phased out immediately. For more information, contact a local Hexagon representative or visit HexagonMI.com/AbsoluteScanner.
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Hexagon’s Manufacturing Intelligence division provides solutions that utilise data from design and engineering, production and metrology to make manufacturing smarter. For more information, visit hexagonmi.com.