Prrrfect Technologies LLC has chosen the CONTROL 2011 exposition, held May 3–6 in Stuttgart, Germany, to launch its portable direct computer controlled coordinate measuring machine (DCC CMM) specifically designed to support production operations such as precision machining and toolmaking.
The innovative zCAT will be exhibited along with Kreon Technologies’ 3-D scanning solutions.
zCAT, which is battery powered, is targeted at shop-floor measurement, a rapidly growing segment of the dimensional measurement and inspection market. “The zCAT is an alternative to portable arms, on-the-machine touch probing, and more cumbersome stationary CMMs that require electrical and pneumatic connections,” says Hank Kraus, president and CEO of Prrrfect.
“This entry-level machine is so intuitive to operate it needs no joystick for positioning,” says Kraus. “Accuracy specified to industry standards is 8 microns in the measurement volume.”
A four-axis machine, zCAT is priced at just $25,000. That includes Prrrfect’s own embedded ControlCAT metrology software and an I++ interface that will work with most metrology software.
The CMM is just entering production at the company’s operations in Carlsbad, California. “One reason we are exhibiting at CONTROL 2011 is to find strategic business partners and distributors,” Kraus says.
zCAT compares favorably with the new Equator product from market leader Renishaw plc. “Like the Equator, we see the zCAT as an integrated component of the manufacturing process,” Kraus adds. “We believe that our system’s absolute-versus-relative measuring capability, temperature compensation, easy I++ interfacing, wi-fi connections, and total portability will be appreciated by our manufacturing customers.”
Both Equator and zCAT are solidly aligned with the dimensional measurement industry’s fundamental trend—moving inspection close to the work and keeping it there. “Ideally in manufacturing, inspection is part of the production process, done on the factory floor, as close to on line as possible, not off line in an isolated, temperature-controlled quality assurance lab,” says Kraus.
Most significant shop-floor measurement innovations developed in recent years have been either portable, manual measuring arms or probing systems built into CNC machine tools—also known as on-machine verification or OMV. The zCAT advances the technology of portable measuring arms by automating repetitive part measurement with significantly better accuracy.
Further, zCAT improves on OMV by providing a DMIS-enabled solution and offering an independent validation of machine tool measurements. zCAT comes with a five-hour lithium-ion battery so it needs no electrical connection—no cables to stumble over; and zCAT doesn’t use air bearings, so no air hoses underfoot.
Three years in development, zCAT is the latest in a long line of portable CMM technology triumphs by Homer Eaton. He is considered the father of the articulated-arm CMM and is best known for the ROMER line of CMMs now sold worldwide by Hexagon Metrology. The zCAT is Eaton’s smallest CMM, weighing only 12 kg (29 lbs), battery included.
For more information visit: www.thezcat.com