QUAH Beng Chieh, Head of Marketing (Asia Pacific), FARO Technologies

Please tell us about FARO’s metrology and inspection solutions in the fields of die mold especially around Industry 4.0. How are FARO’s solutions impacting die mold verticals?
FARO develops and markets portable coordinate measuring machines (CMMs) and 3D imaging devices that solve dimensional metrology problems. The company’s portfolio of products enables users across a variety of fields to perform high-precision 3D measurement and inspection processes. FARO’s 3D measurement technology allows companies to maximize efficiencies and improve processes.

The latest Quantum series of FaroArm and ScanArm, for example, deliver maximum measurement performance and consistency for contact and non-contact requirements in every working environment. The Quantum ScanArm is ideal for inspection and quality control, and offers capabilities such as point cloud comparison with CAD, rapid prototyping, reverse engineering, and 3D modeling. This allows

users to inspect the dimensions of dies and molds and initially produced parts, in order to reduce the number of costly design iterations and adjustments and, ultimately, manufacture parts that perfectly match the CAD reference.

As a forward-looking and innovation-led company, FARO also develops solutions associated with Industry 4.0 to meet the demands of the industry. The FARO Cobalt Array Imager is a structured-light imaging device that utilizes blue LED light technology to capture millions of high-resolution 3D coordinate measurements in seconds. It is able to deliver fast and consistent measurements for dimensional inspection and reverse engineering applications. In a similar way, the FARO Robo-Imager Mobile — which combines the Cobalt Array Imager with a human-collaborative robot integrated on a mobile cart — can be used to automate inspection and verification of parts, at any location in the production environment, to significantly reduce cycle times for inspection and eliminate scrap and costly rework. Its mobility also enables the inspection processes to be moved to the shop floor, so parts can be automatically checked without delay.

How has the inspection technology evolved over the years with the growing demand for higher speed and productivity?
Manufacturers and developers like FARO are constantly innovating and improving inspection solutions for the market. This includes the move from traditional measurement tools (e.g. tape measure, Vernier calipers, marking gauge) to fixed CMMs for more accurate measurements. Over the last few decades, the introduction of portable CMMs, non-contact measurement technology, and the use of CNC programs and CAD softwares have further refined the quality inspection process. The demand for more innovative and high performing measurement technologies is growing, and FARO continues to invest in R&D at our technology and manufacturing facility in Exton. With constant changes in technology, it has become even more vital for FARO to prioritise R&D activities to stay ahead.

Strategic acquisitions are also initiatives that FARO actively invests in to integrate external expertise into their solutions. This allows FARO to provide its customers with more all-rounded options. Over the last few years, we have acquired established firms with diverse expertise, including BuildIT Software & Solutions and Laser Projection Technologies Inc. Each of these acquisitions have strengthened FARO’s product offerings — adding value to the user’s experience, ultimately increasing productivity and efficiency on the shop floor. These investments allow us to meet the industry’s needs today and anticipate new ones tomorrow, securing FARO’s leading position in the measurement industry.

How important is it to have a high-end inspection technology in die mold industry?
High-technology inspection tools enable users in the die mold industry to increase the efficiency of the production process and maintain quality standards. This will improve the reliability of measurement results — eradicating the reliance on a technician’s skill and reducing variations in results that are due to differences in operators.

Increasing global competition has also led to the need for greater quality assurance in die and mold products. There is a need for highly precise measurements that supports the intricate die- and mold-making process. These high-precision measurements cannot be fulfilled by traditional hand tools such as tape measures and Vernier calipers. Stringent quality requirements may also be demanded by clients in the automotive and aerospace industries where precision is crucial to ensuring safety.

An example of how FARO’s measurement and inspection solutions can enable manufacturers in the die and mold industry to achieve higher accuracies and time savings is Chengdu Tianyuan Die Technology Company. Tianyuan is a Chinese specialty manufacturer in the die and mold industry. Main products developed at their facility include automotive fixtures, aircraft fixtures, aircraft assembly frames, automotive check fixtures, and motorcycle welding fixtures, which vary greatly in size. FARO’s technologies have enabled the company to better meet its customers’ stringent quality requirements. The FaroArm typically handles the smaller jobs, and is mainly used in the later stages of fixture installation and commissioning. Tianyuan also employs the FARO Laser Tracker for larger items such as military tooling and aircraft frames. The Laser Tracker’s precision and large working volume fully addressed Tianyuan’s measurement needs, where large assembly frames were concerned. Usually more than 10m in size, these bulky frames are of substantial weight, and cannot be measured separately in segments. The portability of the device also eliminates the need to move the frame — increasing Tianyuan’s efficiency and projects that used to take half a month can now be completed in less than 10 days.

Benefits of non-contact 3D scanner over touch probe?
Both non-contact and touch probe 3D scanning solutions has its pros and cons. The choice between the two depends on the type of measurement required, accuracy needs, as well as the part and its features.

Often hard pressed for time, manufacturers are concerned with the speed of inspections and measurements for quality control. In this case, a non-contact 3D measurement solution can help manufacturers to simplify their manufacturing process and improve overall efficiency — reducing the effort required for measurement and inspection, increases productivity, and allows easy capture of free form shapes. Some of its applications include dimensional analysis, CAD-based inspection, and alignment.

Non-contact 3D measurement tools can provide data point collection at a faster speed. The FAROBlu™ Laser Line Probe, for example, offers a superior, large-diameter, custom optics which is capable of collecting more light and data, therefore delivering highly accurate, as well as sharper and brighter images. It also comes with a wider laser line width which is able to scan a larger area at any one time, making it a good choice for faster and more productive scanning in 3D inspections, CAD-to-part analysis, alignments or reverse engineering applications.

Non-contact 3D measurement tools also boast the ability to capture the entire surface of the part. Comparatively, touch probe measurements may yield fewer data points when measuring highly curved or free-form surfaces. As a result, capturing of single measuring points on a free-form surface with touch probes can be a longer process, especially if a large number of data points are required.

In the tooling industry, the verification, alignment, and adjustment of jigs and tools play a vital role in overall productivity. What are the latest technologies to ensure the same and have zero mistakes? What are the best suited inspection technologies for the die mold industry?
Both contact and non-contact 3D measurement technology can be useful for the industry. Contact measurements (touch probes) allow for targeted inspection that provides greater accuracy. It can achieve single point accuracy of around 12 microns, so it is useful for verifying tight tolerance features, such as when a hole center location needs high accuracy input.

On the other hand, non-contact measurements offer a wide variety of applications (e.g. different sizes, various types of surfaces). The ability to capture the entire surface of the part, especially curved or free-form surfaces, allows users to greatly reduce time spent on the measuring process, as more data points can be collected when scanning. The FARO QuantumS ScanArm offers both contact and non-contact measurement technology and can digitize interchangeably without having to remove either component. This allows users to digitize simple features with the Arm’s hard probe, while it seamlessly scans across diverse surface materials. With this feature, the QuantumS ScanArm is able to meet even the most challenging of tolerances, minimize errors and increase reliability of measurements.

Indian SMEs are gradually adopting high-end inspection technologies. How do you see the market for your products in India?
With the growth and maturing of the Indian manufacturing industry, companies have become more discerning. Increasingly, many of them are adopting higher standards and demanding greater precision and speed in their operations, especially for inspections and quality checks. The shift from traditional tools to new technology means that the market is now more aware of the existence of new technologies, has deeper understanding of the benefits and is more willing to invest in the solutions.

At FARO, we believe that it is our responsibility to innovate and design products with ‘user experience’ as the main driver. Our technologies are developed keeping the end user in mind — solutions that are portable, accurate, and easy to use. Our research and development (R&D) team creates solutions that support and accelerate the overall manufacturing process, and our efforts have led to the introduction of cutting-edge devices. Launching new 3D measurement technology that allows users to maximize efficiencies and improve processes continues to be a priority for FARO. As we innovate, we incorporate feedback from our customers to roll out more user-friendly solutions.

There is a lot of buzz around IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) and smart factory. What is your take on Smart inspection technologies and how much time will it take to actually see them on India shop floors?
IIoT is one of the more important aspects of Industry 4.0 for India. And according to an IBEF forecast, the IIoT market in India is projected to grow at a CAGR of more than 28%. An important aspect of IIoT, smart inspection technologies can empower businesses to better compete on a global stage. Automation in production processes, and also intelligent measuring and evaluation systems have become essential drivers to help manufacturers meet the changing market demands. Optical processes and components are also important when it comes to the digitalization of production processes, as they supply comprehensive information about product quality promptly and readily. In addition, in an environment where growth is generally slowing down, productivity gains are a key concern. Manufacturers should consider how they can improve the efficiency, costs, and performance of their production processes. That way, they stand to profit from innovation strategies that build upon advanced manufacturing concepts and the potential of the Industry 4.0.

FARO’s plans for Indian market…
India is one of the fastest growing economies in Asia. The IBEF reports that India would rise from the 12th to the 5th largest position in the consumer durables market in the world by 2025. The consumer durables market in India is expected to reach US$20.6 billion by 2020. Demand growth is likely to accelerate with rising disposable incomes and easy access to credit. Increasing electrification of rural areas and wide usability of online sales would also aid growth in demand. Initiatives by the Indian government, such as the infrastructure investments, involve a significant amount of construction and building projects, many of which call for high precision measurements and high accuracy scanning.

In addition, the ‘Make in India’ campaign will also spur the growth in the manufacturing industry, contributing to increasing demand for quality metrology solutions. FARO’s innovative products can provide effective support in high precision measurements and high accuracy scanning to aid India’s growth in these areas. As India continues to be a key market for FARO, we will spare no efforts to ensure adequate assistance for our customers in this region.