“Well, we haven’t done that before, but…” – Custom Measuring Machines

While the standard machines that we build will suit the needs of many users, there are occasions when someone has a tricky part that a standard machine or component we build just won’t do the trick. Now, at that point, we could give up, send the person on their way to find another supplier, but where’s the fun in that? It’s more interesting and fulfilling to apply some teamwork, a bit of creativity and out-of-the-box thinking, and solve a problem in a way that wasn’t apparent at first.

The edge perpendicularity problem

Custom air-actuated angle-checking device

One client came to us looking for a big single axis table for checking sheet metal parts. Easy, right? Not so fast. There were a couple of dimensional measurements that needed to be taken that our standard machine and accessories just weren’t built do do. One was to check the bent edge of a fabrication to make sure the bend angle was within specification. After some thinking, a refresher in trigonometry, and a chat with our encoder supplier, we came up with the device shown here. This air-actuated cylinder pushes two probes at a specified distance apart against the bent edge of the part. By calculating the difference between probes, we can show that the angle is in or out of specification.

The long and narrow parts problem

Long overhead barstock with clamps
Long overhead barstock with clamps

Another client had an older machine of ours, which was working well-enough for them, but they thought if we could do something different for them, that would be better. They made long narrow parts, like extrusions, that had holes in specific locations. The problem was, the extrusions could flex and move, which made getting an accurate and repeatable measurement difficult.

What we created was a variation of our overhead probe barstock table along with a series of lever-actuated push clamps and some angled stops. This provided a quick and easy way for the operator to secure the parts in place so the parts wouldn’t move. It also meant that the client didn’t need to create custom fixtures for individual part variations.

A fixture table

A custom fixture table built for a client. They provided the drawing, we provided the table.
Custom Fixture Table

Sometimes, the machines we build don’t require electronics. We have one client who owns some of our Single Axis tables, but for this application, all they needed was a table with a series of holes for some custom fixturing.

They sent us a drawing with the layout of the holes for their application. We built our standard-style frame, then mounted a ground plate with their custom hole pattern. Now they have a flat, durable, mobile, shop-floor fixture table that can be moved from station to station as needed.

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