Renishaw (38)

Renishaw is recruiting for a record 68 apprentices across its Gloucestershire and South Wales sites. The 2019 intake will be the 40th round of apprentices to join Renishaw, which has taken apprentices every year since 1979. Applications for a range of roles including engineering, software, embedded electronic design and development, and IT are now open until Friday March 1st, 2019.

To begin the application process, Renishaw held an information evening at its Gloucestershire headquarters for students interested in science, technology, engineering or maths (STEM) careers. At the event, over 500 students from years 11 to 13 and their parents heard about the different pathways into STEM careers, including apprenticeship schemes after GCSEs or A-levels and a graduate scheme after university. Students also had the opportunity to hear personal experiences from current apprentices and graduates at the company and to ask questions about Renishaw and the available roles.

“My teachers pushed university as the only option after leaving school,” explained Lucy Spiteri-Beale, a Software Apprentice at Renishaw who spoke at the event. “However, I was lucky to hear from STEM Ambassadors at Renishaw at the time who encouraged me to apply for a degree apprenticeship, which allows me to study at university while working. Now, as a STEM Ambassador myself I get to pay it forward and let students know about all the options available to them.”

“Renishaw has consistently recruited apprentices since 1979 because of the value they add to the company,” explained Chris Pockett, Head of Communications at Renishaw. “Apprentices have the opportunity to work on projects in a range of departments to find their passion and future career direction. Our apprentices go on to have fulfilling careers in a wide range of engineering and commercial positions in the company. For example, Gareth Hankins, Director of Group Manufacturing Services joined as an apprentice aged just 16.”

“At Renishaw, apprentices are heavily involved in projects from the start,” explained Ryan Taylor, Engineering Apprentice at Renishaw. “Each department treats you as a valued member of the team and offer you opportunities for personal development.”

As well as gaining on-the-job experience and nationally recognised qualifications, apprentices at Renishaw receive a tailored induction programme and in-house training to ensure they get the best possible experience. Apprentices are also eligible for Renishaw's comprehensive benefits package, which includes a nine per cent non-contributory pension, private medical insurance and a competitive salary.

To apply for an apprenticeship at Renishaw before March 1, 2019, visit

Renishaw is pleased to introduce the new Equator™ 500 – designed to gauge larger parts with all the benefits of the proven Equator 300 gauging system.

Equator gauging systems have helped to improve yield and increase process capabilities of production lines around the world, by providing high accuracy dimensional inspection data next to turning and machining centers, at the point of manufacture. The new larger Equator 500 system now enables the gauging of larger parts, with a working volume of 20” in diameter and up to 16” in height.

Both Equator 300 and 500 systems are accurate between 41ºF and 122ºF at any rate of temperature change, and are capable of scanning speeds in excess of 8 inches/second. Every system is compatible with simple-to-use Organizer operator software, EZ-IO software for automation, and IPC (intelligent process control) software for updating tool offsets on CNC machine tools.

The Equator 500 has a gauging volume of 20” diameter in the X/Y plane and 10” in Z when used with the SM25-2 scanning module. This can be expanded to 16” in Z with the SM25-3 scanning module, which allows styli up to 8” in length to reach many more features. The base of the Equator 500 supports workpiece and fixturing with a total weight limit of 221 lbs. The ratio of gauging volume to footprint means that the machine is extremely space efficient, with a footprint of just 36.2” by 36.4”. This allows manufacturers of larger parts to easily fit the Equator 500 onto the shop floor alongside their production machines. Typical applications include the manufacture of car and truck transmission and engine casings, drive-train parts like connecting rods and differential housings, suspension castings, pressed parts, valves and pumps.

Most users of Equator systems need short cycle times to maximize throughput from their manufacturing processes. Both Equator 300 and 500 systems, while maintaining high levels of repeatability, are capable of rapid scans and high speed touch points on a wide variety of features. Years of customer experience with Equator systems have proven the capability to gauge size, position and geometry on a single device. This can eliminate the need to stabilize parts to the temperature of the quality room prior to measuring geometry and form of critical features.

Climatic conditions can result in variable daily and seasonal temperature cycles. For example, early in the morning a cold machine shop can increase in temperature due to both external conditions and machinery heating up. The system has been proven to cope with this by re-mastering – meaning that accurate gauging can start as soon as the first part has been produced and continue regardless of how conditions change.

The Equator range is compatible with new IPC software which allows constant monitoring and automatic adjustment of a machining operation, keeping part dimensions close to nominal and well within process control limits. This correction of process drift improves part quality and manufacturing capability, and reduces scrap. The proximity of the Equator gauge to the CNC process allows adjustment at the point of manufacture, avoiding time delays or reliance on finished part inspection. An Equator gauging system can be connected to one or multiple CNC machine tool controllers.

IPC software can average results from several parts to determine the true process mean for adjustment of critical cutting tools. For process control purposes, often only one machined feature per cutting tool will require gauging, in contrast with the many features inspected for typical Quality Assurance (QA) applications. The frequency and magnitude of offset updates can be configured on a feature-by-feature basis depending on design tolerances, process variation and tool wear rates.

IPC is an integral function of Equator Process Monitor software, using recent historical gauging data to determine process corrections. Connection to a compatible machine tool can be as simple as connecting an Ethernet cable from the Equator controller to a CNC machine.

The ability to correct a process automatically with IPC software eliminates the potential for manual data entry errors, and removes the requirement for an expert to decipher traditional measurement reports into a process correction value at the CNC machine.

The new EQ-ATS (Equator Automatic Transfer Systems), for the Equator 300 and Equator 500, allows parts to be loaded on to a fixture plate in front of the gauge, and transferred in and out of the measuring volume under automatic program control. They can be used for either manual loading by operators, cranes or forklifts, or robot loading in an automated cell, protecting the Equator gauge from accidental damage. EQ-ATS is easily integrated, bolting directly on to the base of the Equator gauge.

Renishaw officially launched its Fabrication Development Centre (FDC) on March 28th, 2018 at the company's Miskin facility in South Wales. On the day, Renishaw will also launch its education partnership with BLOODHOUND SSC. To celebrate this, Andy Green OBE, current holder of the World Land Speed Record and BLOODHOUND SSC driver, opened the facility.

The FDC is a unique educational resource for hands-on learning. It aims to inspire young people and to encourage a pipeline of talent into science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) careers. Schools or groups of young people can use the facility for free for lessons or workshops. The FDC contains two classrooms, staffed by a qualified teacher and Renishaw's STEM ambassadors. It is equipped with state-of-the-art equipment, including 3D printers.

“With companies already struggling to recruit skilled candidates, it is important to get more young people interested in STEM subjects at GCSE and A-Level,” explained Simon Biggs, Education Outreach Officer at Renishaw. “Creating engaging educational experiences for pupils at a young age can be essential to their selection of the subject at degree or apprenticeship level.

“The Fabrication Development Centre not only gives pupils a chance to escape the classroom, but it also enables them to grasp the link between the school curriculum and industry. They can take part in motivating workshops that complement the exam specification and give them a better understanding of the career opportunities available to them in the future.”

Large numbers of young people have already experienced success from using the facility, including students at Radyr Comprehensive. After using the FDC for just a few months, the school noticed increased motivation among the pupils. Radyr Comprehensive School now plans to extend its use of the facility across the three years of its GCSE programme to increase the interest and uptake of design subjects.

Renishaw announced two new metal additive manufacturing (AM) systems: the RenAM 500M and the AM 400.

RenAM 500M industrial metal additive manufacturing system (initially introduced as EVO Project)
Fully designed and engineered in-house to be used for serialised production, the RenAM 500M builds complex metal components directly from CAD using metal powder fusion technology. Highlights of the system include a Renishaw designed and engineered optical system with dynamic focusing; automated powder sieving and recirculation; 500 W ytterbium fibre laser and patented high capacity dual filter SafeChange™ system.

AM 400 metal additive manufacturing system
Renishaw also launched the AM400 flexible metal additive manufacturing system. This new model is a development of the AM250 platform. It includes all the advantages of the latest machine updates with larger SafeChange™ filter, improved control software, revised gas flow and window protection system, and a new 400 W optical system that gives a reduced laser beam diameter of 70 micrometres.

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At the TCT exhibition in Birmingham, UK, taking place from September 30th to October 1st 2015 Renishaw will announce plans to open a global network of Renishaw Solutions Centers for metal 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing (AM).

“Additive manufacturing is still mostly used in rapid prototyping applications, where the ability to build metal components direct from CAD, with no special tooling, is especially valuable,” said Clive Martell, Head of Global Additive Manufacturing. “However additive manufacturing has so much more potential than this – it enables us to design and make innovative products with spectacular gains in performance and efficiency. Renishaw's vision is to make additive manufacturing a mainstream manufacturing technology, used in series production of high performance parts for aerospace, medical, automotive, oil & gas, mould & die and consumer products.”

When adopting any disruptive new manufacturing technology, companies will go through a rigorous assessment process to understand the potential benefits, and to prove the reliability and capability of the production process. The investment in time, resources and equipment to achieve this can be significant.

Renishaw Solutions Centers will lower this entry barrier by providing cost-effective access to machinery, facilities and AM expertise. Equipped with the latest additive manufacturing machines and staffed with knowledgeable engineers, the Solutions Centers will provide a confidential development environment in which firms can explore the benefits that additive manufacturing can bring to their products, and quickly build their knowledge and confidence in AM as a production technology.

Each Solutions Center will feature Incubator Cells – private development facilities containing an AM machine, design workstation and all the ancillary equipment needed to design, build and refine a new product design. As the product and process design matures, Renishaw will also provide pre-production capacity where the productivity and capability of the AM process can be established. Renishaw will provide support in the form of operators and applications engineers, as well as access to a range of machining, finishing, treatment and metrology processes.

“Whilst additive manufacturing can create complex geometries in a single process step, some level of finishing is generally required to produce functional products,” said Marc Saunders, Director – Global Solutions Centers. “Renishaw's knowledge of metrology, machining and finishing processes can help customers to develop an integrated manufacturing solution for their innovative new product.”

The network of Renishaw Solutions Centers will open during the final quarter of 2015 and the first half of 2016, and will include facilities in the UK, Europe, USA, Canada, India and China.

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Renishaw recently broke ground on its new 133,000 sq. ft. office and warehouse facility in West Dundee, IL, about 40 miles from Chicago. The two-story facility will be located at the Oakview Business Park and will be the company’s North American headquarters. The new building, slated for completion in June 2016, will also include space for product development, testing, warehousing and distribution.

The facility will consolidate the company’s two existing sites, with a 47,000 square-foot area dedicated to warehousing/distribution, while the 86,000 square-foot office portion provides additional space for corporate services staff, as well as demonstration, training and conference facilities. The additional space includes flexible training and demonstration areas, with an open two-story exhibit hall for customer tours and product demos. The facility can also accommodate future expansion as Renishaw Inc. continues to grow.

UK-based Renishaw is a world leading engineering technologies company, supplying products for applications as diverse as jet engine and wind turbine manufacture, dentistry and brain surgery. Throughout its history Renishaw has made a significant commitment to research and development, with historically between 14 and 18% of annual sales invested in R&D and engineering.

Today the company has over 4,000 employees, and achieved annual sales of $781 million for the year ended June 2015. The company has 15 offices in the UK and an additional 56 offices in 32 countries, including 12 offices in China.

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Renishaw plc is pleased to announce the appointment of Clive Martell MSc, CEng, MIET, former President and CEO of Delcam, to a new role as Head of Global Additive Manufacturing.

Clive, age 54, progressed from a graduate recruit to become CEO of Delcam plc, where he successfully managed the company's transition from an AIM (Alternative Investment Market) company to an operating division of Autodesk. After his appointment as Delcam's CEO in 2009 his successful track record of delivering strong revenue and profit growth earned him the CEO of the Year Award at the 2013 Grant Thornton Quoted Company Awards.

In his new role at Renishaw, Clive will report to Geoff McFarland, Group Engineering Director and will be responsible for the strategy and direction of additive manufacturing across the Renishaw Group. He will liaise with development teams in the UK and sales and marketing operations across the world and will be particularly focused on making a global success of Renishaw as an additive manufacturing (AM) solutions provider.

As part of this new role Clive will also guide the company's Additive Manufacturing products line based in Staffordshire, UK, which develops new AM systems and the Medical Dental products line, which delivers AM solutions for the healthcare sector. Clive will also become a member of Renishaw's International Sales and Marketing Board.

Commenting on the appointment, Geoff McFarland, said, “Having worked closely with Clive Martell during my six-year tenure as a non-executive director of Delcam, I am delighted to welcome him to Renishaw. His extensive experience within the global manufacturing industry, including the ability to grow customer service activities, the development of dedicated software solutions and the establishment of Delcam's Healthcare division, will be especially valuable to Renishaw as we develop additive manufacturing as a standard solution for production applications.”

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Renishaw is pleased to unveil the machine that it is developing specifically for production manufacturing. Provisionally named EVO Project, it is the first additive manufacturing system designed and engineered in-house at Renishaw and reflects the company's 40 years of experience in supplying high quality equipment to demanding global manufacturing businesses.

The new machine, which has a strong emphasis on automation, monitoring technologies and reduced operator interaction, is designed for single material industrial production. Powder handling is almost entirely hands off, whilst powder recirculation, recycling and recovery are all carried out within the inert atmosphere of the system, protecting both the user and the integrity of the material.

The EVO Project machine incorporates a high power 500 W laser which will aid productivity whilst still maintaining precision and surface finish. It also boasts a class leading high capacity filtration system, a large 19” HMI user interface and intelligent workflow to further reduce the need for operator interaction.

The new machine, which is planned to be available in the second-half of 2015, is designed to complement and not replace the current Renishaw AM250 system which is better suited for flexible manufacturing and research applications where changes between materials are a requirement. The AM250 has an interchangeable hopper system which allows various materials to be used on the same machine.

Renishaw continues to develop the AM250 system which is also benefitting from some of the developments made for the EVO Project machine. This has led to the recent introduction of the PlusPac™ upgrade pack which offers improvements to Z-axis seals and chamber lighting, plus substantially improved gas recirculation and filtration.

At Euromold 2014, taking place between 25th and 28th November in Frankfurt, the Renishaw stand will feature an EVO Project machine, AM250 system and an AM250 fitted with the PlusPac upgrade.

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Tuesday, 05 August 2014 11:33

Renishaw Opens New Headquarters in China

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Renishaw, a world leading engineering technologies company, is pleased to announce that its Chinese headquarters has moved to a new state-of-the-art facility in Shanghai. The new office for Renishaw (Shanghai) Trading Company Ltd is located in the Shibei High Tech Park in the Zhabei District, a rapidly developing area which is well connected with Shanghai's public transportation network.

The new headquarters building covers over 3,200 square metres, of which an initial phase of 1,860 square metres has been developed, with the 2nd phase due be completed in early 2015. A new demonstration facility offers comprehensive technical support to OEM customers, distributors and end-users for the full range of Renishaw's market leading metrology products, plus Raman spectroscopy systems and additive manufacturing (metal 3D printing) systems.  The new building has also allowed Renishaw to expand its warehouse and logistics facilities, and to increase the size of its Service Centre, all contributing to improved customer service and support.

“Renishaw has been strongly committed to the Chinese market ever since we opened our first office in Beijing in 1994, which was followed by a wholly owned subsidiary in Shanghai in 2005,” said Paul Gallagher, Managing Director, Renishaw (Shanghai) Trading Company Ltd. “Our investment in this fast-growing country has been further strengthened by the expansion into this new facility.  We look forward to many more years of strategic growth, and to continuing to build a strong business in Mainland China. ”

Renishaw currently has 11 offices across China with a total of 125 employees.  The headquarters expansion enhances the company's cohesion and competitiveness in offering cutting edge products and excellent customer service in China.

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Renishaw has purchased the business of Advanced Consulting & Engineering, Inc. (ACE), a US-based supplier of dimensional measurement products and services focused on the automotive industry.

The acquisition of family-owned ACE, based in Rochester Hills, Michigan, provides Renishaw further specialized programming capabilities using leading industry packages, and will help to support Renishaw’s sales of co-ordinate measuring machine (CMM) probing systems and Equator gauges in the USA.

For over 15 years ACE has provided a range of in-house and on-site measurement services to its customers including contract inspection, CMM fixture design, machine retrofits, CMM programming, training and full turnkey solutions from concept to completion. Since 2011 the company has also been a distributor of Renishaw’s CMM and gauging products, including REVO®, PH20 and Equator™.  ACE has A2LA lab accreditation.

“We are very excited at becoming a part of the Renishaw Group, which is globally respected in the metrology industry," said Ken Bergler, Founder of ACE. "This is a great opportunity to expand our existing operations, and I believe that we can make a significant contribution to Renishaw’s U.S. operations through the specialized skills we have developed servicing our high quality customer base.”

Leo Somerville, President of Renishaw Inc, added: “This is an excellent acquisition for Renishaw and further underlines our commitment to invest in the development of our metrology business. We have known Ken and his team for many years, over which time ACE has built an excellent reputation for delivering high quality measurement solutions, particularly for demanding applications in the automotive sector.

"As Renishaw continues to focus on supplying end-user metrology solutions, including CMM retrofits and installations of our Equator gauge, the specialized programming and applications knowledge of the ACE team will be particularly valuable.”

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Renishaw has collaborated with a leading British bicycle company to create a 3D-printed metal bike frame. Empire Cycles, located in Northwest England, designed the mountain bike to be stronger and lighter, using a process called topological optimization and employing Renishaw’s AM250 additive manufacturing system. The additive process offers design, construction and performance advantages that include: blending complex shapes or hollow structures with internal strengthening features, flexibility to make design improvements right up to the start of production, and the convenience of making one-off parts as easily as batches, which allows for customization. The new titanium alloy frame, about 33% lighter than the original, was manufactured in sections and bonded together.

The two companies originally agreed to optimize and manufacture only the bike’s seat post bracket, but after the part’s successful production, improvement of the whole frame became the new goal. Empire started with a full-size 3D printed replica of its current aluminium alloy bike and the frame was sectioned into parts that could be formed in the AM250’s 12-in. (300-mm) build height. The design was updated with guidance from Renishaw’s applications team and an optimized design – one that eliminates many of the downward facing surfaces that require wasteful support structures – was created using topological optimization.

Topological optimization software programs use iterative steps and finite element analysis to determine the “logical” material placement. Material is removed from areas of low stress until a design optimized for load bearing is created, resulting in a model that is light and strong. Historical challenges in manufacturing these computer-generated shapes are overcome through the additive manufacturing process.

The AM250 uses a high-powered fiber laser to produce fully dense metal parts direct from 3D CAD data. Parts are built layer by layer, in thicknesses ranging from 20 to 100 microns, using a range of fine metal powders melted in a tightly controlled atmosphere. A fully welded vacuum chamber and ultra-low oxygen content in the build atmosphere allow processing of reactive materials, including titanium and aluminum.

The key benefit to Empire Cycles is the performance advantages derived from the additive process. The design has all of the advantages of a pressed steel “monocoque” construction used in motorbikes and cars, without the investment in tooling that would be prohibitive for a small manufacturer. “As no tooling is required, continual design improvements can be made easily, and as the component cost is based on volume and not complexity, some very light parts will be possible at minimal costs,” said Dave Bozich, Business Manager, Renishaw.

The original aluminium alloy seat post bracket is 12 oz. (360 g) and the first iteration of the hollow titanium version is 7 oz. (200 g), a weight savings of 44%. Comparison of the entire frame has the original bike frame weighing in at 4.6 lbs. (2100 g), with the redesigned additive-made frame at only 3.1 lbs. (1400 g), a 33% weight savings. “There are lighter carbon fiber bikes available, but the durability of carbon fiber can’t compare to a metal bike,” said Chris Williams, Managing Director at Empire Cycles. “They are great for road bikes, but when you start chucking yourself down a mountain you risk damaging the frame. We over-engineer our bikes to ensure there are no warranty claims.”

Titanium alloys have more density than aluminium alloys, with relative densities of around .14 lb/in3 (4 g/cm3) and .11 lb/in3 (3 g/cm3), respectively. Therefore, the only way to make a titanium alloy part lighter than its aluminium alloy counterpart is to significantly alter the design and remove any material not contributing to the overall strength of the part. The companies believe further analysis and testing it could result in further weight reduction.

In addition to durability and corrosion-resistance, titanium alloys have a high Ultimate Tensile Strength (UTS) of more than 900 MPa, when processed using additive manufacturing. With near perfect densities – greater than 99.7 percent – the process is better than casting and the small, spherical nature of additive-part porosity has little negative effect on strength. The seat post bracket was tested using the mountain bike standard EN 14766, and it withstood 50,000 cycles of 270 lb ft (1200 N). Testing continued to six times the standard without failure.

Empire is passionate about partnering with top British engineering companies to create elite products. Research into bonding methods resulted in Mouldlife providing the adhesive, which was tested by technical specialists at 3M test facilities. The wheels, drivetrain and components required to finish the bike, were provided by Hope Technology Ltd.

Empire and Renishaw plan to continue testing the completed bicycle frame in the laboratory, using Bureau Veritas UK, and in the field, using portable sensors in partnership with Swansea University. “We plan to develop this further, in partnership, to look at iterative improvements in bonding methods, such as specific surface finishes,” said Bozich. “This project demonstrates that excellent results can be achieved through close customer collaboration.”

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Renishaw, one of the UK's leading engineering technologies companies, is contributing its knowledge in additive manufacturing to create key prototype parts for the BLOODHOUND Supersonic Car, which will attempt to break the 1,000 mph speed barrier during Summer 2015.

One of the most critical components is the nose tip for the car, which will be the very first part to break through any new land speed record and is subject to forces as high as 12 tonnes per square metre. To cope with such loadings, a prototype tip has been designed in titanium and will be bonded to BLOODHOUND's carbon fibre monocoque body which forms the front-half of the car.

Renishaw is providing a manufacturing resource to the project team to produce the nose tip on its laser melting machines, which use an additive manufacturing process to fuse together very thin layers of fine metallic powders to form highly complex functional components. The prototype will be used by the BLOODHOUND team to evaluate possible manufacturing processes and carry out further engineering analysis.

Dan Johns, lead engineer at BLOODHOUND SSC responsible for materials, process and technologies, says: “We believe that the key benefit of using an additive manufacturing process to produce the nose tip is the ability to create a hollow, but highly rigid titanium structure, and to vary the wall thickness of the tip to minimise weight. To machine this component conventionally would be extremely challenging, result in design compromises, and waste as much as 95% of the expensive raw material. ”

Science Minister David Willetts and his prototype nose cone (image courtesy BLOODHOUND SSC)On 4th July, the Rt Hon David Willetts MP, UK Minister for Universities and Science, formally opened the new BLOODHOUND Technical Centre in Avonmouth, Bristol, where the iconic car is now being assembled. He also announced a £1 million grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to support the BLOODHOUND Project's education and outreach mission, which aims to inspire children about STEM subjects.

During his visit, Mr Willetts was presented with a special commemorative plaque containing a prototype nose tip manufactured by Renishaw on one of its AM250 additive manufacturing machines.

Says Simon Scott, Director of Renishaw's Additive Manufacturing Products Division, “With 3D printing having such a high profile within the media and political circles, it is fantastic that the only UK manufacturer of a metal-based additive manufacturing machine is able to contribute to this iconic British project which aims to inspire a new generation of engineers here and around the world.”

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The business assets of LBC Laser Bearbeitungs Center GmbH, Kornwestheim, Germany, have been purchased by the German subsidiary of Renishaw. A new business, LBC Engineering, has been created which will be integrated within Renishaw GmbH.

Renishaw, a global company operating in the fields of metrology, healthcare and additive manufacturing is acquiring, as part of an asset deal, the business and employees of LBC Laser Bearbeitungs Center GmbH, a pioneer in the field of additive manufacturing for tool and mould making. Already a leader in the supply of laser melting systems, the deal will also allow Renishaw to offer additional additive manufacturing services, including design and simulation, and the contract manufacture of metal prototypes and production parts.

The deal will create a new business, LBC Engineering, comprised of former employees of LBC Laser Bearbeitungs Center GmbH, which will continue to offer services to its existing customers. The new business will be fully integrated within Renishaw GmbH at its offices in Pliezhausen.

Rainer Lotz, Managing Director of Renishaw GmbH, said: “Through this acquisition the Renishaw Group has gained excellent additional skills and experience, which will allow us to further develop our additive manufacturing business for a wide range of applications. The customers for our laser melting machines will benefit from this additional expertise, allowing them to quickly integrate this exciting new technology, with its many benefits, into their everyday processes.”

LBC Laser Bearbeitungs Center GmbH was established in 2002 as a service provider for laser inscription and 3D laser engraving, and is a recognised pioneer in the field of metal-based additive manufacturing. The company has mainly focused on the additive manufacture of conformally cooled mould tools and tool inserts for injection moulding and die-casting applications. An important part of the service offered includes component design and simulation to maximise the economic benefits of the laser-melted inserts.

Laser melting is an additive manufacturing process capable of producing fully dense metal parts direct from 3D CAD using a high-powered laser. Parts are built from a range of fine metal powders that are fully melted in a tightly controlled atmosphere layer-by-layer. The process gives designers more freedom, resulting in structures and shapes, such as conformal cooling channels, that would otherwise be constrained by conventional ‘subtractive' processes, or the tooling requirements of volume production.

Ralph Mayer and Marc Dimter, executive shareholders of LBC Laser Bearbeitungs Center GmbH, see important synergies for additive manufacturing: “Through the new relationship with Renishaw, we can drive this new technology forward together and specifically focus on meeting increased customer demands for stable processes and industrial use of additive manufacturing machines. Renishaw offers extensive technological knowledge and highly effective research and development from which our existing customers will also benefit.“

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Following the widespread success of the Equator™ 300 gauging system launched in 2011, supported by a turnkey installation service and global support network, Renishaw has expanded the range with the new Equator 300 Extended Height system. Developed in response to customer needs, it provides users with extra fixturing space below the measuring volume.

This new variant allows components to be transferred onto the machine on their machining fixtures and also allows the use of automated systems such as robots and conveyors. The system can inspect features on parts up to 300 mm tall, with rapid changeover to smaller parts using an extended fixture plate spacer.

Since its launch Equator systems have been installed in multiple automotive, aerospace, medical and electronic companies across the world. Users have been attracted by the reduced purchase, maintenance and fixture costs compared to traditional gauges, plus the ability to gauge multiple parts and to re-program for design changes. Equator 300 Extended Height systems have already been supplied to customers looking for the flexibility allowed by an extra 150 mm height below the measuring volume.

In seconds, users can load parts that are still attached to the fixtures used during machining operations. The Equator fixture plate can be easily exchanged for other plates, each mounted to the Equator base using highly repeatable three-point kinematic seats. The plates can also be exchanged for fixture plate spacers, allowing smaller parts on their own fixture plates to be gauged in the same measuring volume.

Turnkey installations

Since the launch of the Equator gauging system in 2011, many customers have also taken advantage of the turnkey programming service offered by Renishaw and its partners. Using Renishaw's comprehensive MODUS™ software, experienced engineers work closely with a customer to generate programs that allow a wide range of parts to be gauged on a single Equator system.

A customer's shop-floor staff then simply select and run programs using the intuitive Modus™ Organiser operator front-end software, requiring little or no training. The Organiser software can report gauging results with a simple ‘pass' or ‘fail' message, while also allowing a full inspection report to be viewed.

Global support

Reflecting the international nature of many modern manufacturing organisations, Equator customers have been able to take advantage of Renishaw's extensive network of Equator support engineers. Projects initiated in one country or region can be easily transferred and locally supported in multiple locations. Renishaw now has approaching 70 regional support offices and multiple approved partners, covering every industrialised area of the world.

Equator principle of operation

Equator is a radical alternative to traditional dedicated gauging, filling a gap in the market never before addressed. The patented low-cost design, unique in construction and method of operation, is capable of high-speed comparative gauging for inspection of high-volume manufactured parts. Equator is a lightweight, fast and highly repeatable gauge that operators can use with ‘push-button' simplicity. Equator can switch between parts in seconds, perfect for flexible manufacturing processes or accepting parts from multiple machines.

Thermal stability

Equator's innovative and highly repeatable gauging technology is based on the traditional comparison of production parts to a reference master part. Re-mastering is as swift as measuring a production part and immediately compensates for any change in the thermal conditions of a shop-floor environment. Equator can be used in factories with wide temperature variation – simply re-master and the system is ‘re-zeroed', ready for repeatable comparison to the master.

Traceability to calibrated CMMs

Master parts do not need to be expensive custom parts like those used on a traditional gauge; users simply take a production part and measure it on a co-ordinate measuring machine (CMM) to establish the variation from CAD or drawing nominals. The results from CMMs can be configured to be used directly within the Equator software.

Effectively, the calibrated absolute accuracy of the CMM (often located in remote temperature controlled rooms to ensure accuracy) can be ‘extended' onto the shop floor to provide calibrated traceability to Equator measurements. With the calibration file loaded into the Equator software, measurements made in the Equator system can be referred back to the CAD or drawing nominals.

Low-cost fixturing

Compared to dedicated gauging, Equator cuts fixture costs considerably. By using fixturing that positions parts to within 1 mm of where the master was measured, there is no significant effect on system repeatability and the need for expensive precision fixtures is removed.

Integrated stylus changing

Further versatility is offered by the Equator-specific stylus changing rack, included in the purchase price of an Equator system, which allows automated in-cycle changing of SH25 stylus holders. The SH25 holders couple to the industry-standard Renishaw SP25 probe, allowing Equator users to swap the stylus configurations without re-qualifying each time. Up to six stylus combinations can be loaded into the rack at any time and they can be used on a single complex part or with multiple parts of varying geometries.

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Tuesday, 04 December 2012 12:15

Renishaw Sponsors The Big Bang Fair

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Renishaw has been announced as a sponsor of The Big Bang UK Young Scientists and Engineer's Fair as part of its ongoing commitment to develop the next generation of engineers.

The Big Bang Fair, which takes place at ExCeL, London from 14 – 17 March 2013, is the largest celebration of science and engineering for young people in the UK and is designed to inspire young people to make the link between their classroom experiences and a future career. At the fair, visitors will experience a wide range of explosive theatre shows and interactive exhibits, as well as having the opportunity to meet some of the country's leading scientist and engineers.

In sponsoring the Big Bang Fair, Renishaw is continuing its commitment to raising awareness surrounding Engineering as a career. The Company's Education Liaison Executive, Julie Collins, explains, “It is increasingly important that we encourage young people to study subjects that will give them the qualifications that they will require for an interesting and rewarding career in engineering and science. Events like the Big Bang Fair really help to spark the interest of young people and inspire them to keep studying STEM subjects.”

In 2012, the Big Bang Fair hosted 56,000 visitors of all ages, who both enjoyed and learned from their experiences. The organisers report that over 76% of 12 – 14 year olds viewed engineering more positively as a result of their visit. Renishaw is working with education establishments to help promote STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) in schools, and engineering as a career, to help combat the nationwide skills shortage of high calibre scientists and engineers.

The Big Bang Fair is delivered by over 170 organisations from the public, private and voluntary sectors, including EngineeringUK, the British Science Associate and the Institute of Physics.

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Renishaw’s new SFP1 probe option for the REVO® five-axis measurement system is the first to allow surface finish inspection to be fully integrated within coordinate measurement routines.

With a measurement capability of 6.3 to 0.05 Ra, the SFP1 surface finish probe makes the CMM a “single platform” metrology system. It eliminates the need for hand-held surface measurement devices or transporting parts to a dedicated surface measuring machine, reducing labor costs and inspection lead times. The system allows automated switching between dimensional measurement and surface finish measurement, with the analysis contained in a single report.

The SFP1 probe is a fully integrated option for the REVO 5-axis measurement system, supplied with two dedicated styli, straight and cranked, which are selected via the measurement program control using the system’s modular rack system (MRS). The probe incorporates a C axis that, combined with the infinite positioning of the REVO head and choice of stylus holders, allows the probe tip to be automatically oriented to any angle to suit the part, ensuring that the highest quality surface data is acquired. This enables flexible access to component features, combined with the consistency of fully automated CNC control. Using the straight stylus, the SFP1 can perform a measurement trace within a 10 mm diameter bore to a depth of 100 mm.

A skidded probe with a 2 µm (0.000079 in) radius diamond stylus tip, the SFP1 probe outputs Ra, RMS and raw data formats to the metrology application software via Renishaw’s UCCServer software, using the I++ DME protocol. The raw data can subsequently be presented to specialized surface analysis software for more detailed reporting.

Calibration of the probe is also automated under the CMM program. A surface finish calibration artifact (SFA) is mounted on the MRS rack and is measured using the SFP1 probe. Software then adjusts parameters within the probe in accordance with the artifact’s calibrated value.

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Friday, 09 November 2012 11:59

Laser Scanning the Cliffs of Moher

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Measurement Devices Limited (MDL), a subsidiary of Renishaw, designs and manufactures high speed laser measurement and surveying systems for use in extreme environments. When challenged with scanning a section of Ireland's famed Cliffs of Moher, MDL rose to the challenge with its compact and lightweight Dynascan 3D mobile mapping system which was mounted to a fishing boat to capture the date required to produce a 3D model and video.

Surveying the Cliffs of Moher using Vessel Mounted Mobile Lidar

The Cliffs of Moher is one of Ireland's top visitor attractions and a designated UNESCO Geo Park. O'Brien's Tower stands proudly on a headland of the majestic cliffs. From the cliffs you can see the Aran Islands, Galway Bay, as well as The Twelve Pins, the Maum Turk Mountains in Connemara and Loop Head to the South. The Cliffs of Moher take their name from a ruined promontory fort “Mothar” which was demolished during the Napoleonic wars to make room for a signal tower.

The Cliffs of Moher is home to one of the major colonies of cliff nesting seabirds in Ireland. The area was designated as a Special Protection Area (SPA) for Birds under the EU Birds Directive in 1986Coastway were approached in April 2012 to assist in contributing towards an Environmental Impact Statement for the future development of a specific area on the Cliffs of Moher and its immediate hinterland. It is eventually planned to make the Cliffs of Moher a future UNESCO World Heritage programme site. There are currently only two in Ireland; Bru na Boinne and Skellig Michael.

Scope of Work

The Cliffs of Moher, located on the western seaboard of County Clare Ireland, are 214m high at the highest point and range for 8 kilometres over the Atlantic Ocean. The brief was to laser scan, prepare a 3D model and high definition video from the resultant point cloud data of a 2km section of the cliffs. As the cliff face is only accessible and visible by boat the biggest challenge for this project was how to laser scan from a moving platform and how to achieve sufficient resolution, coverage, and accuracy from a place of safety.

Data acquisition

After considering the various options, Coastway approached Measurement Devices Ltd (MDL) a manufacturer and provider of ruggedized laser scanning equipment. MDL proposed a solution using the Dynascan 3D mobile mapping system that can be mounted on both vehicles and vessels and used to capture 3D LiDAR data of topography. The small size and compact nature of the Dynascan system meant that it could be quickly mobilised during a limited weather window and easily mounted on a vessel of opportunity. A Dynascan M500 mapping grade system with a laser accuracy of +/-50mm and a range of up to 500m was utilised for the project.

The unit and secondary GPS antenna were mounted on a boom at the front of the fishing boat allowing a sufficient field of view for the 360 degree Scanning Laser Module (SLM) to survey the cliff. In addition to the SLM the Dynascan contains a high grade Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) consisting of gyroscopes and accelerometers that works to compensate for the motion, pitch and roll of the boat.

Accurate 3D positioning was achieved using the built in Real Time Kinematic (RTK) differential GNSS systems, which employ GNSS carrier phase differential techniques to provide real-time, centimetre-level, three-dimensional positioning. RTK correction signals where derived from a local RTK Base Station that was set up over a known Survey Control Point on the cliff top. The computed correction signals where then transmitted to the mobile GNSS receivers on the Dynascan over a UHF Radio Link. The raw data was also logged to be used for post processing in case of RTK shadow near the cliff and as a quality assurance measure.

Qinsy acquisition software was used to provide real-time on the fly data processing and visualisation of the acquired data allowing for coverage and quality to be verified during the survey. In addition to the laser point cloud photography was captured using a standard digital SLR camera.

Approx. 2km of the cliff face was surveyed over 7 passes in different directions to ensure full coverage of the varied contours of the cliff face and bays. The actual survey data took less than hour to acquire. On completion of the vessel survey the system was transferred onto a vehicle and used to capture the topography on the top of the cliff. The data was collected on the same grid allowing for seamless integration between the two data sets. The entire equipment mobilisation, data acquisition on the vessel and vehicle, demobilisation, and data download was completed successfully within a single day.

Data post processing

The geo-referenced point cloud was handed over to Coastway for post processing. The initial data was imported into Leica Cyclone point cloud processing software. The data was reviewed and cleaned, producing a point cloud ready for mesh creation. The final data set was exported to a XYZ text file and imported into 3D modelling software package.

Within some of the bays there was a shallow reef meaning the boat could not get close enough to scan parts of the cliff face leading to some gaps with the laser data. Coastway therefore used the photos acquired and the Autodesk 123D software to create a 3D model to fill in the gaps. The combined cloud was remeshed creating a seamless model of the cliff face. The high resolution image was used to 'bake' the imagery onto the final mesh model.

Cliff animation dataFinally the 3D model was rendered with the imagery acquired and a fly through animation produced using 3D visualisation software.

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Wednesday, 31 October 2012 11:04

Renishaw Nominated For Leading UK Technology Award

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Renishaw, the global engineering technologies company, has been shortlisted for the prestigious techMARK Company of the Year award, which acknowledges the achievements of technology companies listed on the London Stock Exchange. Renishaw has been shortlisted alongside Anite plc, AVEVA Group plc and Oxford Instruments plc. The awards will be announced on Thursday 15 November 2012 at The Hotel Intercontinental in London, UK.

Ben Taylor, Assistant Chief Executive of Renishaw said: “To have been shortlisted as one of the best run technology companies in the UK, is great recognition for the efforts of staff across the entire breadth of the business, from R&D through to production and sales.”

The techMARK Company of the Year award recognises leading businesses from the techMARK index of the London Stock Exchange, which includes IT, engineering, pharmaceutical and telecoms companies. Nominated businesses are noted for their technological achievements which have been harnessed to produce sound commercial and financial success. Judges will be looking for a winning company that is well managed, has already gained recognition by analysts and investors, and will also have outstanding long term growth potential, with a sound strategy in place to ensure successful delivery of its commercial advantages and to build shareholder value.

Previous winners of the techMARK Company of the Year award include pharmaceutical business Shire plc, and ARM Holdings plc, the multinational semiconductor and software design company.

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Thursday, 04 October 2012 10:07

Renishaw site named UK’s Best Electronics Plant

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Renishaw's assembly facility at Woodchester in Gloucestershire has been named as the UK's Best Electronics & Electrical Plant at the prestigious Best Factory Awards 2012 held on 28th September in London. The honour was achieved against strong competition from global brands, with the Renishaw operation being awarded the title ahead of Sony UK Technology Centre and Siemens MR Magnet Technology.

The judges, which were led by Cranfield University's Institute of Management, noted Renishaw's “unerring commitment to in-house manufacture” which it considers essential to ensure quality, delivery and to support product development timescales. The award citation said, “Ultimately, the combination of astute supply chain management, strategic operations planning and class-leading automated technology make this stand-out OEM a worthy winner of the Best Electronics & Electrical Plant prize.”

Renishaw was also recognised for its global leadership in the field of industrial measurement: “Some manufacturers are simply synonymous with their technology area – when it comes to metrology, they don't come any bigger or better than Renishaw.”

The Woodchester facility carries out the design, development and assembly of components for a wide range of metrology products, including laser calibration devices, probe heads for co-ordinate measuring machines, laser tool setters for machine tools and optical encoders for precision position feedback.

At 15 000m2, and with 348 employees working in manufacturing roles at the site, Renishaw's Woodchester assembly plant is the largest of four assembly facilities within the Renishaw Group, and it operates within an environment of high innovation, constant change and a huge range of saleable parts which are produced in low volumes. The facility includes a full electronics production capability including printed circuit board (PCB) layout, assembly and test.

Gareth Hankins, Director of Renishaw's Group Manufacturing Services Division, who together with Woodchester Site Manager, Gui Festa, collected the award, said, “A tremendous amount of work has gone in to making Renishaw's manufacturing site at Woodchester the world class facility that it is today. It is a testament to the quality and motivation of our employees at Woodchester that we have won this award and all of us are very proud to be recognised in this way.”

Dr Marek Szwejczewski, Director of the Best Factory Awards at Cranfield University commented: "Contrary to what some would have you believe, we still manufacture goods in this country; the UK is one of the top 10 manufacturers in the world and the sector is responsible for 46% of UK exports and around 2.5 million jobs.”

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Sewtec Automation, a world leading supplier of production and packaging systems for the fast moving consumer goods sector, has dramatically increased machining output by adding 5 new HAAS machine tools with Renishaw touch probes, and a new system of shift work.

“At the end of 2009 we had 6 CNC machine tools and did 140 hours of machining a week,” explains Bernard Meehan, Managing Director. “In July 2010, with 11 CNC machines, we have increased capacity to 1180 hours per week”.  The new approach has included a substantial investment in HAAS vertical machining centres, which Sewtec insisted were supplied with the HAAS WIPS system (wireless intuitive probe system).  As Mr Meehan explains “All machines are fitted with spindle and tool setting probes, because we have to keep the machines running, and the resultant cost savings directly affect the cash flow.”

Sewtec Automation has achieved what many companies in the Western world need to do – excel in a specialist field, with exceptional products and service.  Mr Meehan, who combines the experience of a time-served engineer with a razor-sharp ability to analyse the numbers, continues, “Sewtec equipment is being installed across the world, into countries like China, Russia, Poland, the Netherlands, Belgium and Bulgaria, as well as many installations in the UK.  Our customers, frequently international companies expanding into developing markets, want world-class standards of quality and reliability in their regional factories.  With increased demand, and a change in the nature of the orders, we decided to change our approach to how we produce the machined parts.”

Instrumental in this change has been Jerry Elsy, Production Manager, who has a clear view about his role, “You have to understand that Sewtec is not about machining.  Customers come to us for the quality of the finished machinery – how it is designed, how reliable it is, how it is assembled and installed.  When it comes to machining the parts, local machining subcontractors have served us well for many years, still do, and still will.  However, as business grew the opportunity to reduce costs was clear, and this is why we have moved towards most of our machining being done in-house.”

Design for manufacture and value engineering

With the knowledge that the parts they design will mainly be manufactured in-house, Sewtec engineers can match the capabilities of their machines to how part features are specified.  An important element of this is value engineering, a systematic method of maintaining the basic function of the part but reducing the costs by taking different approaches to manufacture.  Design reviews are critical to controlling this process, preventing the chance of being blinded by the project on which the engineers are working.

The engineers are changing processes to reduce the number of machining operations, in an ideal world aiming to produce most parts using a ‘one-hit machining’ process, while also addressing multiple parts at a time.  Both of these require feedback from the spindle mounted Renishaw touch probes, enabling the machine to use its datum shift function and relate machining to previously machined features after indexing.

A good example is a ‘rod-eye’ component, re-designed so it could be made in 3 ops, all on the same machine and with one set of fixturing.  The raw billets of material are loaded in a matter of minutes, after which the Renishaw spindle mounted touch probe is used to find the position of the billet accurately and adjust the part offsets, to which the machining program refers.  Once this op is finished the operator moves the part on to the next fixture, rotating it to address the next face.  The touch probe then finds the position of the previously machined features, again adjusting the offsets – if this was not done accurately then the part could easily be scrapped, but by using the probe it is done in a few seconds.

As Jerry Elsy explains, “Previously it could take 1.5 hours to set a job that took 4.5 hours of machining; that was totally unacceptable.  Now we can do the same set-up in 10 minutes, immediately freeing up 1 hour 20 minutes to cut more metal, which we make money on.  This, along with the performance of the new HAAS machines and increased hours, is how we have increased the productive hours by 850%, but with only five more machines.”

Investments in Haas technology

Jerry Elsy continues, “We bought our first machine tools 15 years ago; 2 Bridgeport knee mills.  Then we bought a Bridgeport VMC with spindle and tool setting probes.  We then did a lot of research on other machines and HAAS machines stood out.”  Sewtec now have 11 machine tools, of which 9 are from HAAS – a combination of VF2, VF3 and VF4 models, plus a VF9 for very large parts. “Now we’ve been using HAAS machines for a few years I have to say that the reliability and after sales service is excellent,” says Mr Elsy.

Moving towards un-manned production

Sewtec has decided to invest time in refining the set-up of its machines, with the intention of leaving them to run on their own as much as possible. With some important progress made towards this goal a skeleton night shift has been created, with 4 operators running between 8 and 10 machines, depending on the production needs.  The spindle probes and tool setting probes are an important factor in enabling this.

The machining workforce is multi-skilled, with 9 skilled programmers working on the shop floor and about 75% of programming being done on the machines.  This can mean that when there are multiple parts being made with automated processes the machines are over-manned and over-skilled, however retaining that skill is seen as very important, as Jerry Elsy explains, “You can’t get that ability back easily; we have had problems recruiting in the past.  We know that we need the flexibility that these programmers can offer, and actively encourage all our staff to feel involved in producing the final product.  We’ve made Sewtec an attractive place to work, and in return we do not have a ‘closed shop’ mentality.”

Taking advantage of the recession

Unlike many traditional engineering companies, business did not drop during the recession, giving Sewtec the chance to take on many good people who were being let go by other companies, including 3 new machine operators.  Despite this growth, they have managed to retain the small company philosophy which is so important in taking a flexible approach and adapting constantly to changing demand.

Bernard Mehan sums up, “The approach taken in the machining operation means that the CNC machines are now a very low-risk element of what can be a high risk business.  With very low scrap and efficient flexible processes we are well positioned to deliver full solutions to existing and new customers.”

Sewtec - from sewing machines to custom-built automation equipment

Sewtec was founded in Scotland to manufacture sewing machines but with the decline of the textile industry Bernard Meehan saw the potential of building production and packaging machines, as demand for consumer goods increased.  From 14 employees in 1992, Sewtec now has 65 staff.  Many of these are skilled engineers, with assembly staff also going to customer sites to install the equipment.  Sewtec does all of its own design, build, PLC programming and installation.

Nearly 90% of machines are shipped overseas to customers producing and packaging a wide range of items, including confectionery, biscuits, tea, other food and consumer goods.  10 years ago it used to be that each machine was a one-off but now orders can also be for multiple machines.  One customer has ordered 47 of one particular machine; the company’s largest ever sale.  UK and international companies want to be confident that they have the same high standard of equipment wherever goods are produced, so machines are often installed in both developed and developing countries, including China, Russia, Poland, the Netherlands, Belgium and Bulgaria.

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Renishaw announces a free version of its Geometric Modelling Library, which is a suite of C++ classes and functions designed to support and facilitate the development of any application requiring complex geometry manipulation.

The GML consists of more than 8,000 functions developed over recent years to resolve many complex geometry problems. The library is now available free for personal, non-commercial, non-academic and non-profit making usage, and for a 90 day commercial trial. Typical usage is within industries such as biomedical, dental, industrial metrology, aerospace and automotive, by those with a need to solve and debug complex geometry problems.

Use of the library provides application developers with the reassurance that complex geometry manipulation is in the hands of tried-and-tested functions, leaving them to focus on their own value adding application development.

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Renishaw, the global engineering technologies company is to hold a Grand Opening of its newly acquired and fully renovated Mississauga, Ontario, facility on Thursday July 12, 2012. The formal opening will be performed by Ben Taylor, the Renishaw Group's Assistant Chief Executive, and as well as refreshments, the event will also include active demonstrations of the company's advanced engineering technologies.

Commenting on the new 17,500 sq ft facility, Renishaw Canada's Director & General Manager, Dafydd Williams, says, “This investment marks a further chapter in Renishaw's ongoing commitment to the Canadian market, where we have been successfully trading for more than 9 years. With a strong local manufacturing base for automotive and aerospace, there are many opportunities for Renishaw to assist companies that are striving to raise quality and productivity levels.”

The new facility is a former film studio and is situated within the heart of Canadian industry. It allows Renishaw to expand its operations to support the growing interest in its full range of innovative metrology products, including co-ordinate measuring machine (CMM) probe systems, touch probes and laser tool setters for CNC machine tools, linear and rotary encoders for position feedback, calibration systems for machine performance analysis, Raman spectroscopy systems, plus new gauging, surveying systems and additive manufacturing equipment.

There will be a wide range of active product demonstrations at the opening event, including the revolutionary REVO® 5-axis scanning system and new PH20 5-axis touch trigger probe for CMMs, the new Equator flexible gauging system, plus spindle probing and tool setting driven by Renishaw's Productivity+™ Active Editor Pro measurement software.

Dynascan GIS scan imageThere will also be surveying products from MDL, Renishaw's associate company, including its Boretrak® scanning system used for ‘down hole' scanning applications in the mining and quarrying industry. During the event guests can also be taken around the immediate area in a SUV fitted with the groundbreaking Dynascan® system, which will scan and build up a 3D map of the entire surrounding environment.

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Renishaw is pleased to announce the sale of an AM250 laser melting machine to Swansea University, one of the UK's top research universities. The AM250 allows the construction of fully dense, highly complex metal parts and structures that would be not have been possible to build using traditional subtractive manufacturing techniques.

The system will be used by a new “Aerospace & Manufacturing” multidisciplinary research team within the University's College of Engineering. Part of the team's focus is the ASTUTE (Advanced Sustainable Manufacturing Technologies) project, a pan-Wales joint initiative part-funded by the EU's Convergence European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government. The aim of the project is to promote growth within the manufacturing industry in West Wales and the Valleys by adopting more advanced technologies.

Says Johann Sienz, as Director of ASTUTE and Professor of Aerospace and Manufacturing at Swansea University: “The project targets the aerospace, automotive and high technology sectors and aims to create sustainable, higher value goods. By applying Advanced Engineering techniques, such as additive manufacturing, to both the design of products and to the production process, the project aims ultimately to create new skilled jobs in the manufacturing sector in Wales.”

Renishaw's additive manufacturing (AM) technology is a digitally driven process that uses a high powered ytterbium fibre laser to fuse fine metallic powders in to 3D objects, direct from 3D CAD data. The metallic powder is distributed evenly across the build plate in layer thicknesses ranging from 20 to 100 microns forming the 2D cross section. The layer of powder is then fused using the laser in a tightly controlled atmosphere. The process is repeated, building up parts of complex geometries, layer by layer.

The application for laser melting is vast: from producing quality prototypes, to creating bio-compatible orthopaedic implants. A key advantage is that component design need no longer be driven by the constraints of traditional machining techniques, giving the opportunity to rethink the concept of “design for manufacture”.

Says Simon Scott, Director of Renishaw's Additive Manufacturing Products Division: “Renishaw is very pleased to have won this tender against strong competition from other additive manufacturing suppliers. There is great potential for additive technologies, and through the work of centres of excellence like Swansea University, the global possibilities to improve energy efficiency and product performance can be thoroughly investigated.”

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Renishaw's new laser melting additive-metal manufacturing process is capable of producing fully dense metal parts direct from 3D CAD data using a high-powered fiber laser. Parts are built layer by layer, in thicknesses ranging from 20 to 100 microns, using a range of fine metal powders that are fully melted in a tightly controlled atmosphere.

The current range of machines utilizes a third-generation design representing state-of-the-art manufacturing technology. Key features include variable powder delivery, ultra low oxygen content in the build atmosphere, and an unparalleled safe-change filter system to minimize user contact with materials.

Two systems are available: the AM125 and the AM250, both of which feature vacuum technology and low gas consumption. Both utilize "machine tool" engineering in design, operation, and serviceability, emphasizing ruggedness and ease of operation. The touch-screen operator interface includes menu options for machine preparation and clean down. Consumable costs are minimized through features such as the soft re-coater blade that can be rotated several times before replacement, use of low-cost filter elements, and low gas consumption – all of which improve system reliability and cost of ownership.

Renishaw additive-metal systems process a wide variety of materials, including 316L and 17-4PH SS, H13 tool steel, aluminum Al-Si-12, titanium CP, Ti-6Al-4V and 7Nb, cobalt-chrome (ASTM75), and Inconel 718 and 625. Both systems are designed for rapid material changeover, with the AM125 utilizing a cassette type materials delivery system and the AM250 a removable hopper – particularly useful for materials development or use of a range of materials. To enhance productivity, a valve interlock on the AM250 allows addition of extra powder while the process is running. Safe processing of reactive materials, such as titanium and aluminum, is ensured with features such as a gas knife that clears away reactive, sooty emissions, and a heated build plate.

The AM125 provides a part-build volume of 125 x 125 x 125 mm (X-Y-Z), and the AM250 provides 250 x 250 x 300 mm (X-Y-Z) with Z axis extendable to 360 mm. Both have build rates of 5 to 20 cm3 per hour, dependent on the material, part density and geometry. The AM125 offers a choice of 100 or 200 W laser, and the AM250 a 200 or 400 W laser.

Both the new machines feature a fully welded vacuum chamber, enabling low-pressure evacuation followed by a recharge with high purity argon gas. Gas consumption, after the initial chamber flood, is extremely low, and allows operation at oxygen concentrations below 50 parts per million – crucial when processing reactive materials, and contributing significantly to material integrity and mechanical performance.

All file preparation is completed off-line through a choice of interface, either Marcam Autofab software or Materialise Magics. Once complete, the build file is uploaded to the machine via a secure network or direct connection. Product traceability has been improved by the addition of process data and event logging as standard, with various additional process control options on request.

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Renishaw, a world leading engineering technologies company, has purchased the business of R&R Sales LLC, a US-based supplier of fixtures for the global measurement and inspection market.

The acquisition of family-owned R&R, which has 19 employees and is based in Grand Haven, Michigan, will support Renishaw's increasing focus on metrology system sales to end-users such as its new Equator gauge which requires fixturing products.

For over 20 years R&R has supplied the global measurement market with both modular and custom fixtures for CMM and vision systems. The R&R Fixture is widely used to hold parts for dimensional inspection in almost every manufacturing field; from automotive, aerospace and electronics to medical and household appliances.

John Ray, President of R&R, says, “We all look forward to this new opportunity and being a part of the Renishaw Group. We sincerely believe that its extensive worldwide network of offices will help promote our high quality fixturing on more of an international basis and we also hope to incorporate Renishaw's manufacturing processes within our plant to further improve our operational efficiencies.

R&R has had a long relationship with Renishaw Inc in the US and we now look forward to growing new relationships with all the Renishaw offices worldwide.”

Speaking about the acquisition, Renishaw's Chairman and Chief Executive, Sir David McMurtry, says, “We are very pleased to announce our acquisition of R&R Sales. We have known the company and its products for many years, and it has a very strong presence in the USA where it supplies fixturing to many high quality businesses.

With our new measurement products, such as the Equator gauge, and our existing global customer base for measurement products, we believe that we can significantly expand the market for the R&R fixtures.”

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The global precision engineering company, Renishaw plc, will be exhibiting its range of additive manufacturing, metrology and encoder systems at Southern Manufacturing from 15th -16th February 2012, in Farnborough, UK. Highlights will include Equator™, a new versatile gauge, and the company's Selective Laser Melting (SLM) systems.

On stand Q48, visitors to Southern Manufacturing will be introduced to Renishaw's SLM systems, which utilise a pioneering, additive manufacturing process capable of producing fully dense metal parts direct from 3D CAD, using a high-powered fibre laser. Parts are built from a range of fine metal powders that are fully melted in a tightly controlled atmosphere, in layer thicknesses ranging from 20 to 100 microns.

Also on show will be Renishaw's newest gauging product, Equator, which is a brand new alternative to traditional gauging systems. Its patented low-cost design, unique in construction and method of operation, is capable of high-speed comparative gauging for the inspection of high-volume manufactured parts. Equator is a fast and highly repeatable gauge that operators can use with ‘push-button' simplicity. Equator can switch between parts in seconds, perfect for flexible manufacturing processes or accepting parts from multiple machines.

Also exhibited will be the PH20 5-axis touch-trigger system, which increases touch-trigger CMM throughput up to three times, using fast, infinite, rotary positioning and unique "head touch" capability for high-speed point capture with minimal CMM movement. The PH20 uses two-axes of head motion to minimise CMM movement and associated dynamic errors at higher measurement speeds.

Renishaw will also show new machine tool probes with radio and optical transmission. The RLP40 and OLP40 lathe inspection probes offer a choice of signal transmission technologies – radio or optical – to make part set-up and inspection on turning centres accurate, simple and reliable. Measuring just 40 mm in diameter and 58.3 mm long, the highly repeatable probes will help reduce set-up times, scrap, and fixture costs, while improving process control.

Renishaw is also a world leader in position encoders and at Southern Manufacturing, the company will highlight its latest products, including the RESOLUTE ETR (Extended Temperature Range) encoder, which brings all the benefits of the revolutionary RESOLUTE absolute, fine pitch angle encoder to harsh, low-temperature applications. With operation guaranteed down to -40 °C (-40 °F) in non-condensing environments, RESOLUTE ETR is highly suited for use in demanding applications such as telescopes, scientific research and military and aerospace.

For embedded motion control applications, RoLin™ is a component level non-contact magnetic encoder designed for use as a position control loop feedback element. The system consists of a readhead and magnetic scale or ring, with electronics inside the readhead allowing high interpolation rates up to 13 bits and fault monitoring. A wide range of resolutions is available from 0.244 µm to 125 µm, with speeds up to 40 metres/sec dependent on chosen resolution.  Radial or axial reading of the ring is possible, and applications are expected to be for high volume, miniature axes in a wide range of industry sectors.

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At Autosport 2012, being held in Birmingham, UK, from 12th to 15th January, Renishaw will be focusing on its latest metrology products that increase inspection throughput, and its new range of additive manufacturing machines that allow metal parts to be ‘designed today, built tomorrow'.

In hall 20 stand 302, visitors will be introduced to Equator™, which offers a radical alternative to traditional gauging systems, rapidly collecting thousands of data points which can then be used for the comparative measurement of high-volume manufactured parts. Replacing manual measurement with an automated Equator gauging system can greatly increase throughput and reduce scrap rates, at a fraction of the cost of an equivalent custom gauging system.

Also on show is Renishaw's PH20 5-axis probe for co-ordinate measuring machines (CMMs). The PH20 increases touch-trigger CMM throughput up to three times, using fast, infinite, rotary positioning and unique "head touch" capability for high-speed point capture with minimal CMM movement. It uses two-axes of head motion to minimise CMM movement and associated dynamic errors at higher measurement speeds, whilst its unique "inferred calibration" feature eliminates the need for calibration at each orientation.

Renishaw SLM 250 machineProducts from Renishaw's new additive manufacturing product line will also be shown. The SLM250 Selective Laser Melting (SLM) system utilises a pioneering, additive manufacturing process capable of producing fully dense metal parts direct from 3D CAD, using a high-powered fibre laser. Parts are built from a range of fine metal powders that are fully melted in a tightly controlled atmosphere, in layer thicknesses ranging from 20 to 100 microns.

Visitors to Autosport 2012 who are looking to maintain their CNC machine tools at the highest performance standards, will be interested to see Renishaw's innovative QC20-W wireless ballbar and the company's latest release of its innovative AxiSet™ Check-Up system for monitoring rotary axes.

The QC20-W ballbar is the first calibration tool to allow testing in 3 orthogonal planes through a single reference point. A single, simple hardware set up means quicker testing and the ability to produce a representative volumetric measurement of positioning accuracy, with the added convenience of wireless operation. AxiSet Check-Up is a complementary cost-effective tool for checking the alignment and positioning performance of rotary axes. In just a few minutes, users of five-axis machining centres and multi-tasking mill-turn machines can identify and report on poor machine alignments and geometry that can cause extended process setting times, as well as non-conforming parts.

Also on show will be a selection of Renishaw's incremental and absolute position encoder products, plus latest probe systems for CNC machine tools that reduce downtime and scrap levels by automating setting operations, and also allow part dimensions to be verified on the machine.

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Renishaw, the Gloucestershire based engineering technologies company, will be exhibiting its new range of gauging and precision metrology technologies at Aero Engineering 2011 in Birmingham, UK, from 9th to 10th November.

In Hall 20, Stand 302, visitors to Aero Engineering will be able to see Equator™, the first product in Renishaw's new gauging line, which is a brand new alternative to traditional gauging systems. Its patented low-cost design, unique in construction and method of operation, is capable of high-speed comparative gauging for inspection of high-volume manufactured parts. Equator has been conceived and developed by working closely with automotive, aerospace and medical gauging users, alongside their manufacturing machines. The result is a lightweight, fast and highly repeatable gauge that operators can use with ‘push-button' simplicity. Equator can switch between parts in seconds, perfect for flexible manufacturing processes or accepting parts from multiple machines.

Also on show will be a range of sensor products from Renishaw's group company MDL, who are specialists in laser measurement technology. MDL's range of OEM Laser Modules utilise invisible, eye safe, pulsed time of flight technology to provide users with high speed, contactless, distance, speed, or height information, to static or moving targets at ranges up to 1.5 km. These sensor products have a variety of applications, for example: speed detection; train detection; surveillance and security; ship docking; in altimeters; red traffic light violation; and bridge height surveying.

Also exhibited will be the PH20 5-axis touch-trigger system for coordinate measuring machines (CMMs), which increases touch-trigger probing throughput up to three times, using fast, infinite, rotary positioning and unique "head touch" capability for high-speed point capture. The PH20 uses two-axes of head motion to minimise CMM movement and associated dynamic errors at higher measurement speeds. Its unique "inferred calibration" feature determines head orientation and probe position in a single operation, eliminating the need for calibration at each orientation.

Renishaw will also highlight its certified coordinate measuring machine (CMM) retrofit service to upgrade existing machines to state-of-the-art capabilities, including REVO® five-axis ultra-high-speed scanning. The comprehensive retrofit program applies to all brands of machines. The Renishaw Retrofit™ service enables manufacturers to raise CMM throughput by factors of three, four, five and more, increase measurement automation, collect more data points for form measurement, and utilise open source software and future probing technology developments.

For more information about Renishaw's precision metrology products, please visit, and for MDL's sensors products, please visit

Renishaw's AxiSet™ Check-Up is a cost-effective solution for checking the alignment and positioning performance of rotary axes. In just a few minutes, users of five-axis machining centres and multi-tasking mill-turn machines can identify and report on poor machine alignments and geometry that can cause extended process setting times, as well as non-conforming parts. The latest release is now available, offering significant new benefits to users.

There has been strong growth in the market for multi-axis machines, but until now, no easy and reliable process for analysing the performance of their rotary axes and identifying problems caused by incorrect machine set-up, collisions or wear. Key to precision machining is the ability to understand the location of the centres of rotation of the rotary axes relative to the machine's linear axes. Without accurate data about these ‘pivot points', a machine's controller will be unable to reliably control the relative positions of the tool and the component as the rotary axes are moving, leading to inconsistent machining results.

Renishaw's AxiSet Check-Up provides accurate and repeatable test results using automated probing routines to gather performance data from a reference artefact, and includes simple, yet powerful analysis. All tests utilise existing spindle-mounted Renishaw touch probes, which are standard fitment on most multi-axis machines, with probing routines generated using machine-specific macro software supplied with AxiSet Check-Up.

Set-up is fast and simple. To perform the test a user quickly locates a supplied calibration sphere within the machine tool's working envelope using a magnetic mount. Using the supplied custom macro software, a touch probe is then programmed to automatically take reference measurements around the sphere. Users are in full control and can define their own test angles to ensure that machines are tested at critical orientations. To ensure the highest test accuracy, the use of Renishaw's high accuracy Rengage™ strain-gauge probes is recommended.

Measurement results from the AxiSet Check-Up test are output to a PC where a supplied Microsoft® Excel® spreadsheet presents easily understood analysis of the data and compares machine performance with defined tolerances.

Analysis of a machine's capabilities is presented in various formats including a graphical representation of performance that highlights tracking and centring errors, a function that compares two sets of data for the same machine, a simple ‘pass' or ‘fail' test against the user's pre-defined tolerances, and a history screen that allows comparisons of the performance of rotary axes over time. All spreadsheet analysis can be incorporated in a simple report generated using Microsoft® Word®.

The latest AxiSet Check-Up release 2 now offers significant new benefits. Errors in pivot points and lathe centre lines defined along the linear axes (as commonly stored in CNCs) are reported individually, providing users with recommended correction values for machine optimisation. Depending on the user's preference, errors can be reported in either incremental or absolute modes. There is an additional calculation strategy that can be manually selected to establish the pivot points best suited to users machining either free forms or angled features. Other new functionalities in release 2 include the ability to automatically backup and restore multiple data sets, and compatibility with Microsoft® Windows 7 and Office 2010.

To ensure the optimum analysis of rotary axis performance using AxiSet™ Check-Up, it is important that the machine's standard three linear axes are also performing within specification. This should be determined and corrected if necessary using Renishaw's XL-80 laser calibration system, and then regularly checked using a Renishaw QC20-W ballbar. Together these powerful performance testing products combine to ensure the highest quality parts can be consistently produced by five-axis machining centres and mill-turn machines.

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Renishaw SLM (Selective Laser Melting) is a pioneering additive manufacturing process capable of producing fully dense metal parts direct from 3D CAD using a high-powered fibre laser. Parts are built from a range of fine metal powders that are fully melted in a tightly controlled atmosphere layer by layer in thicknesses ranging from 20 to 100 microns.

The current range of machines are the third generation designs and, following several years of detailed market feedback from key development partners and clients, now represent state-of-the-art manufacturing systems. Key features, providing significant enhancements over previous models, include variable powder delivery, ultra low oxygen content in the build atmosphere and an unparalleled safe change filter system to minimise user materials contact.

The range comprises the SLM250 and the SLM125, both of which feature vacuum technology and low gas consumption. The machine has been designed for ease of use within a manufacturing environment and features a touch-screen interface and various menu options for machine preparation and clean down. Machine robustness has been given high priority, adopting a ‘machine tool' approach to use and serviceability. Consumables costs are minimised through careful design and features, such as the soft re-coater blade that can be rotated several times before replacement and the use of low-cost filter elements, right through to low gas consumption — all contribute to system reliability and low cost of ownership.

Renishaw's SLM systems have always processed a wide selection of materials and the new range is no exception, but with the additional benefits of rapid materials changeover on the SLM125 via a cassette type materials delivery system and by the removable hopper on the SLM250; particularly useful where materials development or a range of materials are in use. The capability to safely process reactive materials, such as titanium and aluminium, is a standard feature on Renishaw SLM machines. In particular, the gas knife that clears away reactive sooty emissions and the heated build plate are both pre-requisites for the successful processing of both materials.

Both the new machines feature a fully welded vacuum chamber, enabling low-pressure evacuation followed by a recharge with high purity argon gas. The gas consumption rate, after the initial chamber flood, is extremely low, and allows operation at oxygen concentrations below 50 parts per million — a crucial factor when processing reactive materials such as titanium and aluminium; and contributing significantly to material integrity and mechanical performance.

All file preparation is completed off-line through a choice of interface, either Marcam Autofab software or via Materialise Magics. Once complete, the build file is uploaded to the machine via a secure network or direct connection. Product traceability has been improved by the addition of process data and event logging as standard, with various additional process control options on request.

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The new RMI-Q radio transmission interface allows up to four separate tool setting or spindle-probes with radio transmission to be operated on the same CNC machine, making it an excellent choice for fitment onto CNC machining centres, or machines with rotary tables or twin pallets.  The cable-free system is easily integrated on a wide range of machining centres and CNC milling machines, enabling users to enjoy all the benefits of Renishaw probe systems, including automated on-machine tool setting, tool breakage detection, part set-up and part verification capability.

A multitude of different multiple probing configurations are possible, typically comprising of the new Renishaw RTS tool setter with Renishaw RMP60 inspection probe, or other compatible spindle-mounted touch probes with radio transmission such as RMP40 or RMP600, selected to suit the users specific application requirements.

The new RMI-Q is used to activate either the spindle-mounted touch probe or table-mounted tool setting probe, and gives visual indication of the activated device.  Like the new RTS tool setter it features the tried and tested 2.4GHz frequency hopping spread spectrum (FHSS) radio transmission, designed to be compliant with radio regulations worldwide, which enables uninterrupted operation in increasingly busy radio environments.

The system is suitable for applications that have obscured line-of-sight between probe and receiver, and its transmission range of up to 15m makes it particularly suitable for large machines.  The RMI-Q has all the functionality of Renishaw's proven RMI interface, plus additional features, including the ability via a simple macro to partner all required probes to the interface in a single operation.  Additionally when RMI-Q is used in conjunction with an RTS tool setter and radio spindle probe it is possible for a simple automated calibration cycle to be run using the RTS stylus as the calibration artefact.

Renishaw's new RTS contact tool setting probe with radio transmission is a robust, compact and cable-free product which does not restrict table movement. It offers users fast and accurate tool measurement, including tool length and diameter of milling cutters, twist drills and end mills, plus broken tool detection. Signals from the probe are communicated using radio transmission which makes it ideal for large machines, where line-of-sight is an issue, and for machines with twin pallets or rotary tables, which historically have proven challenging for installations of hard-wired tool setters.

Powered by two standard AA batteries and benefiting from significantly extended battery life, the RTS can be used in conjunction with up to three other radio probes using the new RMI-Q product and is also compatible with the current RMI radio interface.

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Available autumn 2011, Productivity+™ is a unique software solution for the integration of measurement and process control functionality into CNC machining programs. Providing significant advantages over traditional methods, Productivity+ eliminates the requirement for the manual addition of probing cycles into G-code, instead using ‘point and click' feature selection from imported solid models within an interface immediately familiar to existing CAM users.

Already the most powerful tool available for using on-machine measurement to control manufacturing processes, Productivity+ version 1.90 builds further on existing functionality and flexibility, including more features for Constructed Statements, enhanced multi-axis capability, improved reporting capability, and more Custom Macro functionality.

The constructed statements functionality within Productivity+ which allows ‘virtual' features to be created from existing measurement data, is complemented by the addition of a new constructed line element. Together these constructed statements (point, circle, plane and line), are suited complex job set-up operations.

Multi-axis capability and support for machine specific commands such as Fanuc G68.2 and Siemens CYCLE800 has been also extended in version 1.90, providing programming support for knuckle-jointed (nutating) table and 5-axis head/table machine configurations, as well as standard 3-axis machines and multi-axis machines with table/table configurations.

The powerful Productivity+ reporting functionality, which incorporates details such as feature name, type, and an optional in/out of tolerance check, has also been improved to allow reports to be produced in a consistent format for all supported controller models, simplifying analysis and comparison when using external software packages.

For users looking to create and add bespoke solutions into Productivity+ routines, version 1.90 enhances custom macro functionality, now allowing results to be used to perform machine update operations.

All of these new features build on the ability of Productivity+ to allow users to combine probing and machining, so that features can be automatically checked without the need for an external PC. An integrated logic builder enables measurements to be used as the input to process control decisions, allowing work co-ordinates, tool geometry, machine variables and rotation updates to be set automatically.

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Renishaw has added a new probe option to its revolutionary REVO® five-axis measurement system, which for the first time, allows surface finish inspection to be fully integrated within CMM measurement routines.

With a measurement capability of 6.3 to 0.05 Ra, the SFP1 surface finish probe provides a unique ‘single platform' that will eliminate the need for hand-held sensors, or the necessity to move parts to costly dedicated surface finish measuring machines, reducing labour costs and inspection lead times. CMM users will now be able to automatically switch between part scanning and surface finish measurement, with analysis all contained in a single measurement report.

High quality surface finish data
As a fully integrated option for the REVO 5-axis measurement system, users of the SFP1 surface finish probe will benefit from a range of powerful features that will boost inspection speed and flexibility.

The probe incorporates a C axis, which combined with the infinite positioning capability of the REVO measuring head and a choice of styli, allows the probe tip to be automatically orientated to any angle to suit the part, ensuring that the highest quality surface data is acquired. The SFP1 is supplied with two dedicated styli, the SFS-1 straight stylus and SFS-2 cranked stylus, which are selected under full measurement program control using the REVO system's modular rack system (MRS). This enables flexible access to component features combined with the consistency of a fully-automated CNC methodology.

A skidded probe type with a 2 µm (0.000079 in) tip radius diamond stylus, the SFP1 surface finish probe outputs Ra, RMS and raw data formats to the metrology application client software via Renishaw's UCCServer software using the I++ DME protocol. The raw data can subsequently be presented to specialist surface analysis software packages for further detailed reporting.

Automated surface finish probe calibration
Calibration of the sensor is also automated and carried out within a CMM software programme. A new surface finish calibration artefact (SFA) is mounted on the MRS rack and is measured using the SFP1 probe. Software then adjusts parameters within the probe in accordance with the artefact's calibrated value.

Find out more about Renishaw's CMM probe systems and software, including a new CMM retrofit service.

A unique, new advanced process control gauging system has been showcased in Scotland at a leading industry event hosted by Heriot-Watt University.

The Equator™- a versatile automated gauging system – has been designed and developed by Renishaw plc, to meet the process control needs of manufacturing companies within a diverse range of industries.

Delegates at the Agile Manufacturing annual conference at Heriot-Watt University - which brought together academia and industry from around the world, to share knowledge and ideas to support business growth and diversity - were told the new system would have a significant impact on the sector.

Equator has been developed as an alternative to traditional dedicated gauging, with the ability to be pre-programmed for multiple parts and re-programmed for design changes.  The patented low-cost design, unique in construction and method of operation, is capable of high-speed comparative gauging for inspection of high-volume manufactured parts.

Professor Marc Desmulliez, Director of the Heriot-Watt University James-Watt Institute commented that "We are delighted that Renishaw has supplied an Equator system for our Advanced Metrology Laboratory. Such equipment will increase our research capability as well as increase our interaction with industry. This reflects the strength of the strategic alliance between Renishaw and our university and is testament to the excellent collaborative research links that both institutions have forged with each other over recent years.”

Dr Kevyn Jonas, a Director at Renishaw plc, was a keynote speaker at the conference and told delegates: “There is nothing like this product available on the market.”

“Equator uses the traditional principle of comparison of production parts to a reference master part, providing repeatable data that results in more efficient and effective operations,” he added.

“The Equator has been rigorously field-tested and was positively received when we launched at the Control show in Stuttgart, Germany in May.  We were therefore delighted to have the opportunity to show it for the first time in Scotland at the Agile Manufacturing conference.”

“Given the extremely positive reaction we have had to the system so far, we remain confident of the significant improvements Equator can make to companies through increased automation and flexibility and we look forward to showcasing the product's abilities further in the UK and beyond.”

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Tuesday, 28 June 2011 08:19

Renishaw announces expansion plans

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In response to increased demand for its measurement and healthcare products, Renishaw, the UK-based engineering company, is announcing a series of initiatives designed to provide the additional capacity required for its anticipated business growth over the longer term. These include the acquisition of the soon to be vacant Bosch manufacturing facility, located to the west of Cardiff, Wales, and the submission of planning applications to extend three of its existing facilities in Gloucestershire.

On 24th June, Renishaw exchanged contracts to acquire the Bosch manufacturing facility in Miskin, South Wales, which is located immediately next to Junction 34 of the M4 Motorway and offers 461,000 sq ft of existing factory space, including a 10,000 sq ft clean room facility, on a 193 acre site. As the existing Bosch operations are to be relocated, the purchase will be completed on 30th September 2011.

Sir David McMurtry, Renishaw's Chairman and Chief Executive, says, “This is a rare opportunity to acquire a high quality manufacturing facility in a location that has excellent transport links and a local population with skills relevant to our business. Whilst it is too early to say exactly what products will ultimately be manufactured in Wales, any employment created at the site will not be at the expense of permanent jobs in Gloucestershire.”

Renishaw is in discussions with Stroud District Council regarding a possible extension to its headquarters site at New Mills near Wotton-under-Edge where it is seeking modifications to existing planning consent to allow a phased development of up to 225,000 sq ft. The company is also discussing further applications for a 50,000 sq ft extension to its healthcare products facility at Charfield, and a 35,000 sq ft extension to its machine shop at Stonehouse.

Sir David adds, “This is an exciting time for Renishaw, but our rapid growth has presented real challenges with space, both to accommodate the new equipment required to manufacture an ever expanding range of products, and the numerous people that we are currently recruiting for all aspects of our business. The new site acquisition and proposed expansions to our Gloucestershire facilities are a necessary part of ensuring for the longer term that we can continue to prosper and create high quality jobs in the UK.”

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Thursday, 02 June 2011 08:08

Renishaw at EMO Hannover 2011

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At the EMO Hannover 2011 exhibition taking place in Hannover, Germany, from 19th - 24th September, Renishaw will highlight a range of process control solutions that help tackle the increasing drive to lean manufacturing, from new technologies for pre-process machine calibration, to on-line and off-line post-process measurement. A new range of additive manufacturing technologies and the latest incremental and absolute encoder systems will also be on show.

Equator™ gauging system
For visitors to EMO Hannover sourcing off-line measurement systems, Equator™ is a radical new alternative to traditional dedicated gauging, filling a gap in the market never before addressed.

Its patented low-cost design, unique in construction and method of operation, is capable of high-speed comparative gauging for inspection of high-volume manufactured parts. It has been developed and proven on the shop-floor in collaboration with industry-leading companies in multiple industries and applications.

Equator has been conceived and developed by working closely with automotive, aerospace and medical gauging users, alongside their manufacturing machines. The result is a lightweight, fast and highly repeatable gauge that operators can use with ‘push-button' simplicity. Equator can switch between parts in seconds, perfect for flexible manufacturing processes or accepting parts from multiple machines.

MTT SLM250 Selective Laser Melting machineSLM250 - selective laser melting machine
Following its recent purchase of MTT Technologies Ltd, Renishaw will use EMO Hannover to highlight its new range of additive manufacturing technologies. On show will be the SLM250 Selective Laser Melting (SLM) machine, which utilises a pioneering, additive manufacturing process capable of producing fully dense metal parts direct from 3D CAD, using a high-powered fiber laser. Parts are built from a range of fine metal powders that are fully melted in a tightly controlled atmosphere, in layer thicknesses ranging from 20 to 100 microns.

QC20-W wireless ballbar
Visitors to EMO 2011 will see that in addition to the conveniences of wireless operation, the QC20-W telescoping ballbar is the first calibration tool to allow testing in 3 orthogonal planes through a single reference point. A single, simple hardware set up means quicker testing and the ability to produce a representative volumetric measurement of positioning accuracy.

Fast, automated health check for multi-axis machine tools
AxiSet™ Check-Up extends Renishaw's market leading range of machine tool testing and calibration systems, with a cost-effective solution for checking the alignment and positioning performance of rotary axes. In just a few minutes, users of five-axis machining centres and multi-tasking mill-turn machines can now identify and report on poor machine alignments and geometry that can cause extended process setting times, as well as non-conforming parts.

PH20 5-axis motion PH20 5-axis probe for CMMs
Visitors to EMO Hannover looking to improve measurement speeds on co-ordinate measuring machines will be able to see demonstrations of the PH20 five-axis touch-trigger system, which increases touch-trigger CMM throughput up to three times, using fast, infinite, rotary positioning and unique "head touch" capability for high-speed point capture with minimal CMM movement. The PH20 uses two-axes of head motion to minimise CMM movement and associated dynamic errors at higher measurement speeds. Its unique "inferred calibration" feature determines head orientation and probe position in a single operation, eliminating the need for calibration at each orientation.

CMM retrofits and software
Renishaw is now well established in the CMM retrofit market and visitors to EMO Hannover 2011 will see details of its certified coordinate measuring machine (CMM) retrofits which upgrade existing machines to state-of-the-art capabilities – including REVO® five-axis ultra-high-speed scanning. The comprehensive retrofit program applies to all brands of machines. The Renishaw Retrofit™ service enables manufacturers to raise CMM throughput by factors of four, five and more, increase measurement automation, collect more data points for form measurement, and utilise open source software and future probing technology developments.

New multi-axis software for machine tool probes
For EMO 2011 visitors considering the inspection of parts on their machine tools, the new OMV Pro software includes more advanced CMM-type capabilities with an extended range of geometric dimensioning and tolerancing (GD&T) functionality, plus the ability to work with multiple alignments in a single program, an advantage in working with multi-axis machine tools. The software includes simulation capability, an intuitive graphical interface and crystal-clear reporting format that make it accessible to shop-floor staff. OMV Pro's GD&T measurement wizard helps users create standardised report elements based on internationally recognised symbols, allowing operators to compare part measurement results on the machine with those on the manufacturing drawing.

RESOLUTE™ absolute optical encoder montageAbsolute optical encoder and 1 nm resolution incremental encoder
Renishaw is a world leader in position encoders and at EMO Hannover the company will highlight its latest products, including RESOLUTE™, the world's first true absolute encoder which is capable of 27 bit resolution at 36,000 rpm. The fine-pitch system offers excellent dirt immunity, while delivering market-leading resolution of just 1 nanometer at up to 100 m/s, for both linear and angle encoding applications.

Renishaw's range of TONiC™ incremental optical encoders provide the accuracy of fragile fine-pitch encoders, but in a rugged, simple-to-install package. Advanced optical design and innovative electronics are featured in a compact readhead (35 mm x 13.5 mm x 10 mm L-W-H) for great design/application flexibility and installation even on micro-manufacturing systems. New additions to the TONiC range of linear and rotary encoders include 1 nm and 2 nm resolutions, a dual output encoder interface, and compatibility with Renishaw's Dual Signal Interface (DSi) for high accuracy angle encoding.

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Friday, 15 April 2011 12:28

Renishaw acquires MTT Investments Limited

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Renishaw plc, the global engineering technologies company, has acquired the entire share capital of MTT Investments Limited and its subsidiary, MTT Technologies Limited (MTT). Based in Stone, Staffordshire, UK, MTT designs, develops and manufactures additive manufacturing and rapid prototyping systems, including selective laser melting, metal casting, and vacuum casting machines and processes.

Speaking about the agreement which was signed on 8th April, Sir David McMurtry, Renishaw’s Chairman and Chief Executive, says, “MTT has a range of interesting technologies including selective laser melting (SLM) equipment which currently has its main markets in aerospace and medical devices, but also has potential for use in other sectors. All its products are complementary to Renishaw’s existing technologies and business and we look forward to developing an exciting new business together.”

MTT Technologies Limited has 35 employees, with subsidiaries in the US and Italy, and a branch office in France. Its operations will be incorporated within Renishaw as a new product division and will continue to be based in Staffordshire.

According to MTT’s CEO, Simon Scott, the business fit between the two companies is perfect. “We’re confident that Renishaw will be able to provide us with the ability to fully unlock the potential of SLM allowing us to compete with our peers and aim for a market leadership position. It has recognised the potential of the technology through the achievements we have made so far on very limited resources. Renishaw also uses additive manufacturing for its own commercial activities and therefore I believe that Renishaw has a good level of confidence in both the technology and the potential of our team.”

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As an aerospace stretch-forming specialist, there’s hardly a part or a die in Triumph’s shop that is not sporting a parabolic, compound curved or cone shape. Rapid, precise measurement of machining work on these parts – while still fixtured on the machine tool – is a core skill the company’s CAD/CAM department developed and refined to facilitate lean manufacturing. But it took an RMP600 strain-gauge probe to bring the refined “touch” needed for consistent, high-accuracy measurement of small hole diameters, contours and geometric tolerances, to name a few. With no lobing (i.e. true 3-dimensional triggering characteristic) and a repeatability of 0.25 µm  (0.00001”), the strain-gauge probe delivers high accuracy when triggered from any direction, after a one-time calibration routine.

The RMP600, combined with Renishaw’s OMV Pro software, gives the company’s Zimmerman CNC 5-axis portal mill CMM-like capability, allowing complex parts to be “bought off” the machine with measurement results that routinely come within 0.025 mm (0.001”) when double-checked with other devices. As a result, offline checks of work on a true CMM have been essentially eliminated, saving the company many hours of production delays, potential damage, and accuracy problems that arise when moving and re-fixturing high-value parts.

Triumph Fabrications’ core capability is stretch forming of sheet, extruded, rolled shape and light plate metals for the aerospace industry. The company’s press capacity ranges from 10 to 750 tonnes, with the ability to stretch-form reverse forms using bulldozer attachments of 150 and 400 tons on its Cyril Bath presses. The company also has unique stretch forming capabilities to support complex single-plane and multi-plane forming of a variety of metals.

Various types of CNC machine tools are used to produce features on these formed parts, as well as to shape the forming dies themselves. Supporting this work upstream and downstream is a CAD/CAM department equipped with Catia V4 and V5, Vericut 7.0, Renishaw OMV Pro, AutoCAD, Inventor and other desktop engineering tools.

CAD/CAM Department Manager Gary Medlock says on-machine probing is vital to the company’s goal to reduce cycle time, eliminate rework and reduce errors that can creep in from multiple fixturings of a part. “We prefer to measure as soon as we cut, rather than move the part to a CMM,” he said. “These are high-value parts to begin with, and we’re adding value with each operation on the Zimmerman. On parts such as the forming die for a leading edge (shown in accompanying photos) our alternatives would be to lose nearly a day to tear down, measure, and re-setup the part; or finish the part completely, then inspect, and hope no rework is needed. In-process measurement confirms that each phase of the work meets spec before we put more value in the part.”

More typically, parts processed on the Zimmerman mill are formed sheet metal, 0.635 mm (0.025”) to 3.18 mm (0.125”) thick, that require machined holes and cutouts. These parts are vacuum fixtured. Holes of 2.5 mm (0.098”) to 9.5 mm (0.375”) – typical of aircraft applications – are drilled and reamed to accuracies of 0.05 mm (0.002”), with true position tolerances of .30 mm (0.012”) to 0.71 mm (0.028”). “We measure hole size and true position with the RMP600 probe, using a 1 mm (0.039”) tungsten or stainless steel stylus, 50 mm (1.97”) extension, and the two-touch probing method,” Medlock explains. “We prefer the tungsten ball for the ability to reach deep into a hole. If you are careful about orientation, you can measure just about anything with this ball. The 50 mm extension on an RMP600 probe causes no loss of accuracy, keeps the probe at a distance from the workpiece to minimize crash potential, and is cheaper to replace if there is a collision. We use two-touch probing because we have calibrated at the same speed we’re using in the software, so the timing and angles are all established.”

Machine calibration is one of the keys to Triumph’s success with, and confidence in, its probing results. “We calibrate the machine once a year with a laser and ball bar unless there’s a wreck,” Medlock says. “We also have a small calibration sphere on the machine that we calibrate with once a week, rotating the machine through a known set of angles and touching the sphere with the probe. These results are plotted on a histogram, with data going back two years, so it’s easy to see any trend developing. In addition, we have a traceable artifact with cone, sphere, slots and other features that we probe whenever there’s a change to any component of our QC program.”

Triumph has two Zimmerman portal mills. The newer FZ-30 model built in 2008 is equipped with a Siemens 840D CNC. This particular machine has a 6 x 2.8 x 1.5 m (236” x 110” x 59”) X-Y-Z linear axis range, 110_ A-axis, and 360_ Z-axis. Its spindle produces a maximum of 40 kW power and 48 Nm torque, with a top speed of 25,000 rpm. The plant itself is climate controlled. “This machine has a volumetric accuracy of 0.1 mm (0.004”), and for a large, well used machine tool, this compares very well with typical CMM accuracy,” Medlock explains.

“Our alternative without the probe would be to take parts to the CMM room, measure them, then return and setup again,” Medlock says. “We’d have to add a checking groove or other feature to aid in making sure each setup is identical to the first, which means more cost in the part, not to mention a lost day for the entire inspection cycle to be completed.

These delays, and the uncertainty that comes with each new setup, are simply unacceptable in a lean operation. On average, our probing cycle is about equal to the machining cycle, but this is a very broad average and some parts inspect much quicker, depending on the number of features. When probing holes, for example, we average about 8 seconds each.”

The other key to Triumph’s success is programming the model and geometry. “All the features must be on the part if you want things to run properly,” Medlock stresses. “We usually start with a STEP file that’s imported into the OMV Pro software to create the probing program offline. The software simulates the probing routine for collision detection and includes an ‘auto orient’ function that allows the probe to be automatically oriented into a suitable measuring position, without requiring manual input of the required angle. You can measure features many ways – for example, a hole can be measured as a circle or cylinder.”

The probing program runs on the CNC to collect the measurement data, which is then evaluated offline in OMV software with CMM-type algorithms. The software compares the measurement data with the map/model file and produces graphical and numerical reports. The software reports on the deviations from the nominal, and will plot a graph to show the ranges.

A GD&T wizard in the OMV software leads programmers through the process of creating standardized report elements based on internationally recognized symbols, allowing comparison of measurement results from the machine to the manufacturing drawing. “We currently use perpendicularity, angularity, surface profile and true position,” Medlock adds.

Unlike a conventional machine tool probe, the strain-gauge-based RMP600 does not have to be calibrated for each vector, which saves significant cycle time in a 5-axis environment. “We do measure from all vectors, because it’s a 5-axis application,” Medlock explains. “Because of the strain gauge triggering system in the RMP600 we get a good reading – the same reading – no matter what direction we touch the stylus from, which is perfect in a 5-axis world. When you do 5-axis work, the probe is used in some strange orientations, and the ball might be touched from any practical direction. We’ve confirmed that when we measure something with the RMP600, we’ll get the same identical readings if we have to re-measure. Among the RMP600’s superior capabilities, we have proved that we can measure true diameter of smaller holes, down to (0.098”) using a 1 mm stylus.”

The RMP600 is fundamentally different from conventional machine tool probes in that its patented RENGAGE™ sensing mechanism eliminates lobing, an error inherent to all conventional machine tool probes. If the lobing is excessive and high enough to impact measurement accuracy, users must compensate by calibrating the probe along each measurement vector. This requires a complex calibration cycle and management of numerous probe offsets.

The RMP600 eliminates this. Strain gauges measure the contact force applied to the stylus and generate a trigger once the strain threshold is exceeded. This results in low trigger forces, less stylus bending, sub micron repeatability (0.25 µm 2s), no lobing and a true 3-dimensional triggering characteristic. The RMP600 delivers significantly higher metrology performance, especially on 3D surfaces where many sensing directions are used, or in setup, when approach vectors to the workpiece may not be known. Logic inside the probe eliminates unexpected triggers resulting from shock and vibration by determining whether the strains seen at the gauges are caused by contact with the part surface or a random event.

“It’s critical to keep in mind that, in the end, the probe is only as accurate as the machine,” Medlock stresses. “With our knowledge of this machine’s capabilities, condition and calibration history, we believe an inspection on this machine is equal to a CMM inspection. The machine is tested and calibrated to essentially the same requirements as our CMMs, and easily capable of producing part profile accuracies of 0.38 mm (0.015”). We can verify our metrology performance by probing a known artefact which has all the features we would encounter on our parts. Because of the high accuracy of this machine and its 5-axis capability, the strain-gauge probe has proven to be a better match for our measurement requirements. Periodic double checks against other measurement devices rarely show deviations greater than a thousandth of an inch, giving us a high level of confidence and operational efficiency.”

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