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JUL/AUG 2013  

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Keyence’s IM Series speeds up inspections for Timex

Keyence’s IM Series of image dimension measuring systems are being used to speed up and simplify inspections for Timex.


Timex, Middlebury, Conn., is a well-known American watchmaker. Fralsen, its French entity, makes watch movements using three technologies: plastic injection molding of small parts with very fine details; turning and cutting of parts such as wheels, pinions, arbors and rivets; and cutting and coiling of complex springs. These precision parts must be inspected with contact sensors (comparators, Cary equipment, feeler-spindles) and optical systems.

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Keyence’s image dimension measurement system.

Sylvain Scotto of Fralsen’s quality control department said in a statement that the company was looking to inspect more parts in less time. The company also wanted machines that could be operated by non-specialists and that would be able to log measurements.

The company was working on achieving tolerances and accuracies of about 15?m for concentricity and ±10?m for center-to-center spacings and distances, with at least five critical points per part.

With the IM-6500 Series image dimension measurement system from Keyence, Itasca, Ill., the company was able to reliably measure features in very little time, according to Fralsen. Up to 99 points are measured in a matter of seconds with a repeatability of ±1µm. Targets are found and measured regardless of their position or orientation and there is no risk of measurements being affected by variations in operator skill levels.

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Fralsen used Keyence's IM Series machines for the inspection of center distances of geartrain bores on plastic plates. It took less than three minutes to inspect two parts.

“With conventional inspection equipment, measurements took too long,” said Scotto in a statement. “As a result, we couldn’t measure many parts and there was a risk of overlooking significant variations within batches. Before obtaining the IM Series, we used a variety of equipment. Our optical measuring device, which, although very accurate, is not very practical for quick measurements on a daily basis. Furthermore, it requires a high level of skill to operate. The shop microscopes provide accurate measurements, but are tricky to operate and severely limit the number of measurements and parts. In addition, a reference point for truing-up has to be created. Lastly, due to the sometimes long inspection times, our templates and projectors allow only a limited number parts to be measured and there is a risk of misinterpretation,” he said.

In regards to how Keyence’s IM Series improved their processes, Scotto added:

The IM Series is simpler to operate, saves time and eliminates variations of interpretation of measurements. Results are conveniently displayed green (for good) or red (for bad). Keyence’s solution allows several parts to be measured simultaneously. The size of the parts and the number of elements making up the program are the only limits. There is no need for manual truing-up because the system does it all by itself by recognising each part’s geometry. Furthermore, results can be saved and statistics tracked. Part profiles can be compared against master profi les imported from CAD fi les. As a result, we no longer need to position templates on parts and measure differences in shape by eye. The machine does so automatically and extracts an image of the contour showing the difference with the tolerance. All in all, measurements are fast and do not require special skills.

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Fralsen, Timex's French entity, makes watch movements using three technologies: plastic injection molding of small parts with very fine details; turning and cutting of parts such as wheels, pinions, arbors and rivets; and cutting and coiling of complex springs. These precision parts must be inspected with contact sensors (comparators, Cary equipment, feeler-spindles) and optical systems.

Thanks to the iPASS shape detection method, the system determines the position and angle of targets, making measurements automatic.

Getting to grips with the system was easy because all you have to do is adjust the focus and load the program for the part being inspected. All the QC technicians in the Quality Department use the machine for final inspection of parts before their placement in stock. The operators in the cutting shop also use it to measure certain parts during production.

The programming is completely user-friendly. The faster inspection times enable us to track dimensions better and thus improve the quality of a large number of the parts we deliver. What’s more, we haven’t received a single complaint from clients about any of the parts measured on the machine. For example, we use Keyence’s IM-6500 to inspect the concentricity of every single cut wheel and automatically record the measurements.

 

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