Metrology’s Role in Reverse Engineering

July 7, 2011

With many OEM’s out of business or the details of their designs lost or out of reach due to closings, downsizing, and consolidation, many replacement parts are needed for which drawings are unavailable.

Critical components deserve better than calipers and a hand mike, especially when they provide essential functionality to aerospace, automotive, or automated systems.

PMPA Technical Member FARO Technologies provides this case study on use of their Faro Arm Platinum for shop floor measurement and data acquisition to reduce time to measure the parts and to assure key characteristics (like blended radii) are captured.

Headquartered in Ephrata, Pennsylvania, Astro Machine ( serves top regional and national companies like GE, Hershey, DuPont, Bayer, and the U.S. government. They serve industries such as aerospace, general manufacturing, medical, pharmaceutical, food processing, and energy.


Each of Astro Machine’s different applications presents unique challenges, but their work in reverse engineering obsolete OEM parts was a particular challenge. These parts range in size from 1” cubes through 48” cubes and larger. Previously, AMW used older methods such as hand gages, calipers, micrometers, and protractors. These options proved to be ineffective since many of these OEM parts are very complicated, with an array of blended radiuses and compound angles. Manual tools, even when used carefully, resulted in “hit or miss” accuracy.


AMW searched for a better solution for their metrology needs. They considered a conventional fixed CMM, but found a more versatile solution matched their needs: the 8-foot FaroArm® Platinum. This tool serves both in-process and final inspection functions, as well as reverse engineering. It can be taken directly onto the assembly floor and secured to custom machine assemblies while manufacturing is still in-process. This provides an integral inspection device that can aid in alignment and part position during various stages of assembly.

Any inconsistencies associated with manual reverse engineering have been eliminated and AMW’s work is now totally accurate, while increasing productivity. What previously took hours of work has been reduced to approximately one-tenth the time. Many of the parts they reverse engineered manually in the past are now being done again so as to bring the accuracy up to their new “FARO standards.”


The greatest value to Astro Machine with the FaroArm has been the massive time reduction in reverse engineering obsolete OEM parts. In many cases, the time has been reduced ten fold. “Prior to our FARO solution, it was not uncommon for our more sophisticated parts to take 8 to 50 hours to reverse engineer,” says Designer Dan Hughes. “This time has now been reduced to 30 minutes to 5 hours.” A reduction in time is a reduction in cost, which makes AMW even more valuable to their customers.

Astro Machine invests heavily in its technology, and advancements are the cornerstone of their continuous improvement strategies. Not surprisingly then, the FaroArm was well accepted. The implementation process was very easy and the learning curve was extremely simple with the user friendly software. AMW uses their FaroArm on a regular basis for inspection purposes and at the outset of projects for reverse engineering. With the gained versatility of the FaroArm, no part is outside their capabilities.

Here is link to Faro Case Study

Best Free Video You’ll See This Year

October 29, 2009

Nova produces wonderful scientific specials.  They are sumptuously filmed,  compellingly written, and always interesting.  This years’ two hour season premier is probably the best free video that you will see this year.

Best Techie TV Of 2009!

Best Techie TV Of 2009!

Absolute Zero explains the history of the ‘science of cold,’ and even uses the example of boring out a cannon barrel to demonstrate generation of heat to  attack the theory of “caloric.” Air conditioning, refrigeration and delivery of electricity are other industrial applications of the ‘science of cold’ that are produced by our industry.

Alchemy, Chemistry, Guillotines, Dangerous Experiments, Explosions,  Ox Sledges, Metrology, Gas Laws, Math, Steam Engines, Explosions,  Bose Einstein Condensates, and a ‘cool look’ at globalization of ice trade in the 19th century. A real treat for both sides of your brain. And its free on HULU.



What Does A Molecule Look Like?

October 8, 2009

As machinists, we are used to handling materials in the bulk world.

As machinists, our ease in obtaining productivity is influenced by the microscopic world of phases, microstructures, and chemistry.

Underneath this microscopic world lies the world of molecules  and atoms themselves.

This is the chemical formula for pentacene. It is used in organic thin film transistors.





Recently researchers from IBM research team in Zurich used an atomic force microscope to capture an image of a single molecule of this substance.

Compare to the structure above.

Compare to the structure above.

This image of a single molecule shows the five rings of six carbon atoms and suggests the hydrogen bonds along the edges.

The precision needed to resolve at this atomic level requires both extremely high vacuum and frighteningly cryogenic temperatures. And you thought you had temperature control issues in your metrology lab.

Our industry will not be at this atomic-level nanoscale any time soon, at least not for our production processes.

We hope this glimpse of what makes up our material world from the frontiers of science gives you a better appreciation for the work of all the chemists, metallurgists and engineers in the supply chain that produce our raw materials, tools, and metalworking fluids. For all of history, scientists have struggled to  make sense of their observations, develop theory, structure and formulas that made sense. This IBM image confirms that we’re on the right track.

Full story care of BBC .