How Laser Trackers Work & How We Save You Time & Money
Excedr’s leasing program can source virtually all instrument types and accommodate any brand preferences you might have. Request a laser tracker lease estimate today and see how leasing can discount your metrology equipment’s price.
All equipment brands/models are available
The Advantages of Excedr’s Laser Tracker System Leasing Program:
- Eliminates the upfront cost of purchasing equipment by spreading its cost over time
- Minimizes equipment downtime with included complete repair coverage and preventive maintenance
- Takes advantage of potentially 100% tax deductible* payments, providing you significant cash-savings
- Expedites the administrative work needed for instrument procurement and logistics
- Conserves working capital, enabling you to reinvest in your core business and operations (staffing, inventory, marketing/sales, etc.)
- Accommodates all manufacturer and model preferences
*Please consult your tax advisor to determine the full tax implications of leasing equipment.
Many different industries require large-scale, three-dimensional metrology solutions such as laser trackers and laser tracker systems.
The large parts and objects certain industries produce and use need to be measured, and inspection equipment must continuously undergo calibration to prevent diminished quality.
Quality, as well as meeting specific industry standards, is incredibly important when trying to stay ahead of competition while maintaining an optimal profit margin. If you are unable to meet requirements established by the FDA or OSHA, your engineering work may suffer.
Laser trackers are incredibly useful in industries—namely, the automotive and aerospace industries—for these exact reasons. They are used for accurate and high-speed large-scale, three-dimensional inspection, laser scanning, and distance measurement., and can provide the high accuracy measurements critical to the safety of the end-user, as defective parts can lead to injury or worse.
Laser trackers are also considered a type of portable coordinate measuring machine, or CMM, and are commonly integrated into the manufacturing process.
They are capable of measuring 3D coordinates by tracking a laser beam to a reflective target held against the object, and provide a solution to large-scale dimensional inspection and assembly that would otherwise prove difficult to manage thanks to a long measurement range (many models have ranges of more than 10 meters, or 30 feet).
Their wide range of capabilities make them an integral piece of metrology equipment in manufacturing, both in the lab and on the shop floor. Depending on the manufacturer, certain laser trackers are able to measure object features as far away as 60 meters, making inspection of large objects easy. Up close, they can provide measurements within 0.001 inches, or 0.025 millimeters.
Some common laser tracker applications include surface inspection of automotive parts, metrology-guided automated aircraft assembly systems, as well as large-volume measurements of energy industry installments.
Laser tracker technology has improved on the methods available for 3D measurements, and has even made new manufacturing and reverse engineering methods possible.
Laser Tracking Operation, Components, & Applications
Three-dimensional, non-contact measurement and 3D scanning plays a crucial role during the manufacturing process by providing key data and determining if a part was made incorrectly.
Laser trackers operate using a combination of laser sources and reflective target devices, as well as specialized metrology software, making them highly versatile tools.
The operation of a laser tracker is straightforward. The instrument measures two angles and a distance by using a spherical coordinate system. This means that any given point is specified by three numbers:
- Radial distance of the point from the tracker
- Polar or zenith angle (elevation)
- Azimuth angle, measured on a reference plane that passes through the tracker and is at a right angle to the zenith
A laser tracker contains two angular encoders that are used to measure the angular orientation of the tracker’s mechanical axes, azimuth and zenith. These encoders are referred to specifically as the azimuth encoder and zenith encoder. The distance between the instrument’s distance meter and the angles measured by the encoders are capable of determining the center of the reflective target, in this case, a spherically mounted retroreflector (SMR).
When you use a laser tracker, the device directs a laser beam at the reflective target device held against the object needing to be measured. These reflective instruments are known as retroreflectors, and several types of retroreflectors are available. However, one of the more popular types is the spherically mounted retroreflector (SMR).
The light reflected off the target is redirected back to the tracker. As the laser beam reenters, some of the light goes directly to a distance meter that measures the distance from the tracker to the reflector. The most common types of distance meters used are generally either an interferometer (IFM) or an absolute distance meter (ADM).
ADM & IFM Distance Meters
The radial distance of any point from the tracker is determined using a distance meter. In most cases, an ADM system is used, however, the combination of an IFM and ADM system is also common on today’s market.
Although IFM was the dominant technology, that trend has changed. It is less typical to see an IFM-only system, as ADM systems are capable of taking measurements automatically, while IFM systems cannot. Nonetheless, an IFM system has its advantages, which is why many laser trackers employ a combination of the two technologies.
IFM systems split a beam in two. One beam travels directly to the interferometer, while the other travels to the reflective target device in contact with the component being measured. The two lasers then recombine within the tracker, creating an interference pattern.
The result is a change in the laser’s wavelength each time the target device changes distance from the tracker. By counting these changes in wavelength, referred to as fringe counting, the laser tracker can establish the distance travelled between the emitter and the component.
ADM systems use infrared light from a semiconductor laser which bounces off the reflective target device and reenters the tracker. The infrared light is then converted into an electrical signal for time-of-flight (ToF) analysis.
3D Coordinate Data & Inspection
An emerging application for laser trackers in manufacturing is the direct control of mechanical devices such as milling machines.
By controlling the motion of CMM mills, the laser tracker ensures that the final manufactured parts meet strict specifications throughout the process, speeding up manufacturing time, reducing waste, and eliminating redundant testing that can slow things down.
The Future of Manufacturing & Metrology
Another emerging application involves the combination of robotic systems with laser trackers. By combining these two technologies, the tracker can improve on the accuracy and precision of the industrial robotics system.
Although robots have great repeatability, their accuracy can miss the mark. The tracker calibrates the robot to adjust all of it’s inaccuracies and minute variances that occur during manufacturing. This combination can be used to provide real-time feedback on parts and assemblies to the robots as they operate.
Laser Tracker System Leases to Fit Every Need
There are many different types of portable CMMs available these days. However, until the arrival of laser trackers, portable coordinate measurements were performed using theodolites, articulated-arm CMMS, and photogrammetry systems. Due to the laser tracker’s speed, accuracy, and ease of use, they have begun to replace many of these earlier systems in some cases, and are comparable to CMMs and laser scanners.
If you’re in need of a measurement system for larger objects and parts, laser trackers and systems may be the measurement solution you need. If that’s the case, consider leasing your laser trackers with Excedr.
Investing in a laser tracker system will greatly improve the efficiency and accuracy of your measurement systems, as well as the quality control inspection processes you have in place. Its proven effectiveness in large-scale manufacturing has made it an indispensable part of anyone’s metrology arsenal.
Let us know how we can help by getting in touch or requesting a laser tracker lease estimate today.
This off-balance sheet financing structure provides three options at the end of the term. The lessee has the option to return the equipment to the lessor, renew at a discounted rate, or purchase the instrument for the fair market value. Monthly payments are also 100% tax deductible which yields additional monetary savings.
If you recently bought equipment, Excedr can offer you cash for your device and convert your purchase into a long-term rental. This is called a sale-leaseback. If you’ve paid for equipment within the last ninety days, we can help you recoup your investment and allow you to make low monthly payments. This also frees up money in your budget rather than tying it down to a fixed asset.
Laser Tracker Manufacturers & Models
Leica Absolute Tracker ATS600, AT960, AT930, AT403, Laser Tracking Automation, Leica T-Mac
API Radian Laser Tracker, Radian Plus, Radian Pro, Radian Core