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METROLOGY SOFTWARE


especially linking it to in-process control, such as inside CNC cutting machines. “Realizing in fi nal Inspection that there is a problem is too late. We see measurements becoming much more integrated with manufacturing processes—a common example is on-machine verifi cation—and this can be greatly enabled by explicit machine-readable data.” However, he also noted the process of embedding and using GD&T is not fully mature. It is just starting to become useful. While in many instances it does a better job than previous methods of transferring what the design intent was, according to Hewitt, it is still part of an ecosystem that needs to grow in unison. The data must be comprehensive and all systems needing to use it must have suffi cient capabilities to be able to exploit it. For example, PowerInspect can read in the typically high-end CAD formats that include PMI (part manufacturing information) in them, including CATIA, NX and SolidWorks. PMI appears as GD&T callouts that the user selects to create an inspection plan.


He also believes that whatever barriers now exist in model-associated GD&T and intelligent tolerance informa- tion will be relieved by the adoption of the STEP AP242 standard. This is an ISO standard for managing model- based engineering and its development is managed by NIST, according to Olson. “This format includes the model topology as well as PMI data that includes the intelligent GD&T data,” he said. The word “intelligent” carries specifi c meaning for Olson—features such as surfaces or holes will have tolerance annotation in the part history defi nition tree in the CAD model. Intelligence is important because then software can more easily automate creating measurement programs. “A standard opens the doors for entrepreneur- ship by unlocking the embedded design-intent informa- tion,” he said.


“All my customers are looking for more intelligent CAD models,” he added, “and looking for metrology software to support the import of those intelligent models to create measurement programs. It promises cost and time savings by not forcing redundant effort to recreate that information, or worse, introduce errors through misinterpretation.”


Effi ciency and Economy


In Autodesk’s PowerInspect software, the GD&T appears as ‘control frames’ or callouts against the CAD model in the graphics.


A sign that the ecosystem is indeed growing is the ability of mid-priced CAD systems to output models with MBD, noted David Olson, director of global sales and marketing for Verisurf Software (Anaheim, CA). According to the company, Verisurf features an open 3D measurement platform strategy to create inspection plans for many stationary or portable CMMs and analyzing point cloud data from scanners. “Verisurf has always been able to read in attached GD&T with high-end CAD models in their native format, but mid-priced CAD systems like SolidWorks, SolidEdge and Autodesk Inventor can now sup- port model-associated GD&T and PMI data,” he said.


78 AdvancedManufacturing.org | August 2017


All of this points to cost savings through universally read data formats and even universal software. The goal of the president of InnovMet- ric Software (Québec City, Québec), Marc Soucy, is to provide a single software platform that can read in any CAD data and program any machine. “People want to reduce the number of metrology software packages they are using,” he said. “We believe there is a huge cost reduction in reduced training and personnel costs and it makes it easier to share data.” InnovMetric’s PolyWorks


creates programs for portable metrology devices and re- cently expanded into CNC-driven CMMs as well. In the spirit of universality, Soucy also recognizes that a


software that can use GD&T in an intelligent CAD system is im- portant. His company’s PolyWorks Inspector has a Smart GD&T toolset module that comes standard for reading in attached GD&T and helps automate creating inspection programs. “Cre- ating an inspection program from a CAD model with attached GD&T is very involved, a tough job. A lot of mathematics need to be developed to achieve that,” Soucy said. “There are 20 or 30 man years of effort to make a GD&T engine that really


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