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Quality Digest


Renishaw’s Flexible, Cost-Effective Gauging

Equator system aids manufacturers of precision firearm parts

Published: Thursday, February 2, 2023 - 13:01

(Renishaw: West Dundee, IL) -- The Renishaw Equator system’s patented low-cost design, unique construction, and capability for high-speed comparative gauging for inspection of manufactured parts were developed and proven on the shop floor. This was in collaboration with industry-leading companies in the automotive, aerospace, and medical sectors. The result—a lightweight, fast, and highly repeatable gauge that operates with push-button simplicity—has now found a home in the manufacturing operations of some of the world’s top firearms manufacturers for production of handgun barrels, frames, and slides, as well as some lower and upper AR (ArmaLite rifle) components.

The Equator system takes a simple concept of using a master (known) part and coupling it with a highly repeatable and versatile structure for fast, flexible gauging on the factory floor. Along with Renishaw’s IPC (Intelligent Process Control) feedback, the Equator system allows the gauging to update the machining process for immediate feedback without manual offset adjustments.

Based on an easily scalable and adaptable “parallel kinematic” structure, the Equator system allows high-speed scanning and rapid moves between features while retaining stiffness that delivers impressive point-to-point repeatability, critical for accurate gauging. “With rising production demands, gun manufacturers are designing new products as well as ramping up production to meet demand. We support many manufacturers of gun components, both at an OEM level and the supplier level,” says Ian Raupach, Renishaw district solutions manager.

“The Equator system offers the flexibility to scale appropriately without too much in the way of dedicated fixturing. In some cases, we have seen Equator systems deployed in a receiving inspection area, where parts can be sorted quickly without costly specialty gauging, CMMs, or subjective visual inspection.”

Installation of an Equator system takes minutes, and an operator can switch between gauging of different parts in seconds. Reconfiguration of the gauging system to accommodate part design changes, or to measure new parts, is possible in a fraction of the time needed for conventional custom gauging, using industry standard DMIS programming.

“The Equator system shines in this field because it provides real-time feedback of the manufacturing process and provides flexibility to the ever-changing environment of the factory floor,” says Raupach. “As designs change, it’s a simple program adjustment. There is no need for dedicated precision gauges, so decisions about process changes can be adapted to suit the immediate needs of manufacturing.”

The flexible gauging concept is finding a home on today’s automated shop floor. “We have seen a lot of investment going into firearm manufacturing facilities, including automation, new CNC mills, and in some cases, OEMs developing cells for trialing new technologies,” says Raupach. “The Equator gauge is the flexible alternative to hard gauging, and at a fraction of the cost of a CMM. That makes it ideal for managing the process in the manufacturing cell to create a part flow that mitigates all the factors that create instability, including temperature, tool wear, and improper offsets.”

Equator systems are available with two levels of software: a programmable version for production engineers to create DMIS programs and, at a lower price, a shop floor system that allows those programs to be executed but prevents operators from making modifications. Both software levels include easy-to-use MODUS Organizer operator front-end software. In the programmable version, MODUS Equator programming software allows engineers to rapidly create gauging routines for any part—simple or complex, prismatic or free-form.

For more information on all of Renishaw’s solutions for manufacturing, visit www.Renishaw.com.


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