Manufacturing Today - January/February 2017 - 131

4D Technology

"in this case, what we
said was, 'tell us more
about what you need
and we will develop
the best technology
into the best product
to do that job.' it's a
much better solution
in the end." - Mike Zecchino
Driving Innovation
4D prides itself on being the leader
when it comes to innovation and driving product advancements or developments based on customer requirements, Zecchino explains. "General
Electric came to us to develop a way
to measure surface pits and defects
with a handheld gauge," he says. "GE
required a portable, handheld system
that can measure surface features with
micrometer-level resolution. That was
the impetus for a whole new product
line with a wide reach and a much higher manufacturing volume for us."
4D InSpec Surface Gauge is the result of two years of research and development and a major new version of
the company's software. The handheld
device serves a wide range of applications that involve precision surfaces,
including aerospace, drive train, engine components, turbines and medical devices. "What we found is there is
no instrument that did this," Zecchino
says. "It's very exciting not only meeting a customer's need, but also finding
that this solution is launching us into
manufacturing new technology. It's a
game-changer for the industries that
we are selling it to."
To date, the most common methods for measuring surface defects
such as corrosion, scratching, pitting, etc., involve visual comparison
to known samples. These methods,

however, are subjective and not
highly repeatable. High-resolution
metrology systems, such as stylus
and optical profilers, provide more
accurate data. Their price, however,
is often prohibitive for smaller manufacturers and repair facilities.
Furthermore, these systems are
typically confined to a stand in a
metrology lab. In order to measure
large components or difficult to access features, small areas of the surface must be replicated using rubber
or silicone. The replica can then be
measured in the lab. The entire process can take an hour for one measurement, Zecchino says.
"4D InSpec will give inspectors
a repeatable and traceable number
in a few seconds," he adds. "They
can make many measurements and
sample large areas of a surface in the
time it used to take to obtain a single
data point."

Making Metrology Affordable
4D InSpec is expected to be invaluable
to 4D's customers because it reduces
cost, waste and time.
"Inspectors err on the side of caution, scrapping parts that may actually be within specification," Zecchino explains. "4D InSpec gives a more
accurate image of the surface and
the severity of wear and defects so
inspectors can make much more accurate decisions. And, reducing the
inspection cycle translates directly to
a manufacturer's bottom line, and to
getting refurbished parts back to the
field for duty."
4D InSpec delivers the same surface measurement precision as larger interferometers that are too expensive for smaller manufacturers.
"Small manufacturers must be more
reliant on lower-tech options because
high-resolution metrology is prohibi-

West

tively expensive," Zecchino explains.
"We brought 4D InSpec down into
a price range that will allow smaller
manufacturers and repair facilities
to access precision metrology that
couldn't before."
In addition to economies of scale
helping 4D bring its new product to
customers at a more affordable rate,
the manufacturing process is simpler
than the larger instruments.
"We are using additive manufacturing and other techniques to simplify
the assembly process," Zecchino says.
"We know that the gauge has to withstand the rigors of a manufacturing
facility. The engineers spent a lot of
time with beta testers to hear what
they needed from that standpoint."
4D InSpec debuted in September
during the International Manufacturing Technology Show. Customers have been impressed, Zecchino
attests, saying they are affirming the
product is a game-changer.
"This is the combination of usability, affordability and accuracy that lets
[customers] actually do what they
want to do," Zecchino notes. "We are
hearing such things as, 'This is exactly
what the industry needs,' and 'It is the
holy grail for shop floor inspection.'
It's very satisfying to see that we are
really delivering what's needed."
"Several other companies have
considered handheld metrology systems with this resolution, but they
have approached it from the standpoint of, 'we have a technology, how
can we make something useful from
it?'" Zecchino says. "In this case, what
we said was, 'Tell us more about what
you need and we will develop the best
technology into the best product to do
that job.' It's a much better solution in
the end because we have something
now that's not just a compromise, but
it's actually answering the need." mt
JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2017 manufacturing-today.com

131


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Manufacturing Today - January/February 2017

Table Of Contents
Manufacturing Today - January/February 2017 - Cover1
Manufacturing Today - January/February 2017 - Cover2
Manufacturing Today - January/February 2017 - 1
Manufacturing Today - January/February 2017 - Table Of Contents
Manufacturing Today - January/February 2017 - 3
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Manufacturing Today - January/February 2017 - Cover3
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