Laser trackers are state-of-the-art measuring machines that are capable of measuring the dimensions of large objects (up to approximately 120 meters in length) to high accuracy and with uncertainties on the order of about 60 lm. Commercially, they are used in large-scale applications such as the precise measurement of size and shape of aircraft wings, an example where accuracy is extremely important due to the significant cost of these high-value added manufactured assemblies. Performance testing of these
Historically, users have returned their instruments to the manufacturers periodically so a length calibration can be performed to make sure the instruments are functioning properly. Because these instruments are mobile, the accuracy of the measurements must be checked each time they are used. If you don't check the instrument before a measurement is performed you might not know if the instrument is performing correctly until it is too late.
NIST engineers led by
"Our expertise is developing large artifacts for all kinds of measuring instruments, including laser trackers," Sawyer says. "Brunson has expertise in manufacturing high-accuracy fixtures and mounting. Plus they know how to manufacture consumer goods."
"You need large accurate length references," Sawyer says, explaining the process of verifying the accuracy of a laser tracker. "Measuring calibrated length artifacts in the field is a powerful tool to ensure that your instrument is working properly before an inspection of actual parts is performed."
The prototype artifact is a rigid carbon fiber structure that is kinematically supported to prevent it from losing its calibrated value during the field testing of laser trackers. A laser target is positioned on each end at approximately 2.3 m apart.3 The artifact will be available with a rigid tripod that allows the unit to be held horizontally vertically, and diagonally to perform a comprehensive test of the laser tracker measuring system (per
Looking ahead, Sawyer hopes that this collaboration will ultimately lead to additional artifacts, produced by American companies, that are suitable for checking other types of coordinate measuring systems.
"Ultimately, our long-term goal," Sawyer says, "is to help U.S. manufacturers meet the critical measurement needs of the global large-scale manufacturing industry."
1 CRADAs are partneringtools allowing federal laboratories to work with U.S. industries, academia andother organizations on cooperative R&D projects. CRADAs provide flexibilityin structuring project contributions, intellectual property rights, and inprotecting proprietary information and CRADA research results.
3 The length of 2.3 meters is the minimum allowed by the
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