Traceability of On-Machine Tool Measurement: A Review
2. Benefits and Limits of on-MT Measurement
- Monitoring MT Performance: Machine geometry may change during machining operation due to many reasons. By applying an appropriate in-process measurement method with the probe integrated within the MT, geometry changes can be measured. These changes can be monitored to avoid making bad parts and to optimally schedule machine maintenance . Figure 2 shows monitoring of MT performance based on a 3D standard.
- Part Setup: Part cutting programs are created based on an assumed workpiece holding coordinate system. Especially for large parts such as the case for aerospace or large parts manufacturing for automotive applications, this process could take a long time. For small part manufacturing and multi-operation processing, precise part locations could be detected automatically. This would reduce both the setup time and the processing time as parts could be cut from optimally sized blocks .
- In-process Measurement: One of the main reasons for performing a metrological measurement  of a manufactured part is to provide correction values to manufacturing parameters based on any deviations from the target dimensions found. Having this capability directly on the machine tool allows one to feed back these metrological data to the machine tool controller allowing an automatic flexible manufacturing process. This could be done several times during the manufacturing process, and not just at the end, in order to optimize the part cutting process . Figure 3 depicts a tactile MT probing example.
- Post-process Control: Programming and running a manufacturing machine as if it were a coordinate measuring machine (CMM) for in-process measurement generates complete inspection reports without additional effort. For large part manufacturing, moving the part to an external measuring machine may not even be an option. For mass production, just measuring a few control features would not only generate inspection reports for all the parts but also provide a statistical view of the manufacturing process. In addition, it would help to create historical data monitoring for intelligent process control.
- MT time is more expensive than CMM time: The natural limit of on-MT measurement is given by the time spent on the MT doing measurements. It is known that MT time is more expensive than CMM time, so the measurements done on a MT should clearly add value to the manufacturing process.
- Lack of MT accuracy: MT accuracy is affected by many error sources that change the geometry of the machine´s structural loop. As explained in standard ISO TR 16907 , there are different compensation possibilities to enhance the geometric accuracy.
- Lack of MT traceability: Another limitation is given by the lack of traceability of the MT as a CMM. Both machining and measurement operations are performed at the same machine, so if the MT´s geometric error is repeatable, both processes may observe the same geometric error on the measurand.
- Metrology software insufficiencies: Currently software employed in MT is insufficient for metrology purposes. To perform the complex mathematical calculations required for metrology-based real-time decision making, a powerful metrology software needs to be integrated within the manufacturing system.
- Changing environmental conditions: Industrial environments normally suffer from unstable conditions, so it becomes a challenge not just to reduce measurement uncertainties with unfavourable measuring conditions, but to carry out uncertainty assessment for traceable measurement on-MT.
3. Converting a MT into a Traceable CMM
4. Approaches to Determine Measurement Uncertainty on a Machine Tool
4.1. Substitution Method Based on ISO 15530-3
4.2. Numerical Simulation Based on ISO 15530-4
4.3. Uncertainty Budget Method Based on VDI 2617-11
5. Uncertainty Error Sources
- Accuracy: Systematic geometric errors of the MT (induced by kinematic errors, static loads and control software), touch probe errors and measuring software errors are considered. The accuracy will mean the systematic error of the MT as a CMM, so it can be characterised and compensated.
- Repeatability: Random error sources that affect the repeatability of the MT. Dynamic loads that affect the MT (such as backlash, forces and thermo-mechanical loads) and environmental influences that affect either the MT or the touch probe are considered. Repeatability will mean the random error of the MT as a CMM, so it is difficult to measure and compensate.
- Resolution: Quality of sensors and quality of control system are considered.
6. Error Sources Due to the Machine Tool
6.1. Geometric Errors
- Static loads: In case of static errors, the non-rigid body behaviour has to be considered. Location errors and component errors change due to internal or external forces. The weight of the workpiece and the moving carriages can have a significant influence on the machine’s accuracy due to the finite stiffness of the structural loop [41,54].
- Control software: The effect of the control software on the geometric error of the MT can be considerable. Hence, different speed and accelerations can be applied for a known motion path to make control software errors distinguishable. Anyway, the measurement process is usually executed at small feed speeds, so dynamic forces are usually not considered as an uncertainty contributor on machine tool metrology uncertainty budgets .
6.1.1. Description of Geometric Errors
6.1.2. Mapping of Geometric Errors
Direct Measurement Methods
- Standard-based methods, such as straight edges, linear scales, step gauges or orthogonal standards [28,55,57,58,59,60]. Such artefacts contribute also to the uncertainty of the measuring results. This is why their own calibration uncertainty should be as low as possible. However, this is not always reachable, mainly when considering the longest ones and the newest highly accurate machines. Nonetheless, as concluded by Viprey et al., most of the existing material standards are developed for CMM calibration, except ball plates, 1D-ball array and telescopic magnetic ball bar , which are suitable for MTs.
- Laser-based methods or multidimensional devices, such as interferometers or telescope bars [61,62,63,64]. They are usually applied in order to measure principally the machine positioning properties, because the suitability of the laser wavelength for long length measurements, due to its long-coherence length. The most used is the laser interferometer which, with different optics configurations, allows detecting position, geometrical and form errors.
- In small and medium size working volumes direct measurement of an error can approximate the geometric behaviour of a machine tool.
- Specific error motion shall be checked in a very specific line or position. This is depicted in Figure 6.
- Specific verification protocol shall be applied for a machine´s acceptance.
- Iterative “measure and adjust” type of work, which can be needed for component assembly operation.
- Results required in real time.
- High accuracy requirement for a specific application.
- Errors in laser wavelength (environmental factors, such as temperature, pressure, humidity and density influence the wavelength compensation).
- Beam deflection shall occur due to temperature changes and gradients.
- Misalignment between interferometer and axis of motion can cause Abbe errors.
- Any movement of the equipment during the measuring process.
Indirect Measurement Methods
- Indirect measurement for orthogonal linear axes.
- Indirect measurement for five axis kinematics with rotary axis.
- Circular tests: The circular test, described in ISO 230-4: 2005  describes a procedure for the characterization of indirect measurement of the geometric accuracy of two orthogonal linear axis. It is usually performed by a ball bar, but it can also be performed by a laser tracer  or two dimensional digital scale.
- Diagonal and step-diagonal test: As described in ISO 230-6: 2002 , it “allows estimation of the volumetric performance of a machine tool”, but it is not possible to identify 21 geometric error parameter from four body diagonal measurements only. Hence, this test is usually employed for linear scale and squareness error calculation . It is suitable for a fast verification of a MT.
- Measurement of artifacts: The use of calibrated artifacts is widely employed either for MT calibration or CMM calibration. As described by Cauchick-Miguel et al. , artifact-based calibration is employed with one dimensional, two dimensional and three dimensional artifacts. The three dimensional artifact is widely employed mainly in CMM calibration for 21 error parameter measurement  where pre-calibrated position of spheres are measured by the machine for error characterization. Figure 9 shows a CMM characterization process for virtual coordinate measuring machine error assessment. Since almost every machine tool includes a touch probe nowadays, machine tool builders are looking for fast calibration procedures based on this approach.
- Passive links: Calibrated kinematics of the link mechanism attached to and passively driven by the machine to be measured can be used as a reference . Different link configurations are employed nowadays, either serial links with three orthogonal linear axes or parallel links configurations.
- Tracking interferometer: Tracking interferometers, such as, laser trackers or laser tracers can be employed for indirect error measurement. Laser trackers can directly measure three dimensional position by measuring the distance and direction of a laser beam , but angular measurement uncertainty affects the measuring uncertainty of target position and it is rarely employed for MT error measurement. This is the main reason why multilateration based measurement is applied for MT error measurement. In this case, MT position is measured by the distance from at least four tracking interferometers to the target [85,86]. Either laser tracers or laser trackers are usually employed for that purpose. Figure 10 shows a multilateration based scheme, where a tracking interferometer is fixed to the table and the MT or CMM describes a volumetric path through a volumetric point cloud.
- Ball bar measurement: As described by Ibaraki et al. , there are some standards such as ISO 10791-1:2015  and ISO 10791-6:1998  that define measuring procedures for indirect rotary axis calibration. The calibration of rotary axis location with a ball bar is not solved yet and it remains a challenge.
- R-test: Another approach is to employ R-test to measure relative movements between the machine and the workpiece side. A sphere is fixed to the machine table and a measuring sensor, based on three or more length displacement sensors, is coupled to the machine head [89,90,91]. The measurement consists of a sequence of discrete angles of the rotary table. When moving to the next measurement point the linear axes follow the rotation of the rotary table. At each position the probe head measures the relative displacement of the sphere in X, Y and Z direction simultaneously . Compared to the traditional method that employs “Siemens 996” static cycle to locate a rotary axis in the working volume of a MT, R-test offers the possibility to do static and dynamic measurements .
- Measurement of artifacts: As explained for linear axes indirect measurement, any MT has already on machine tool capability. This is why MT probing is being employed for calibration of offset errors of rotary axis .
- Machining tests: As explained by Ibaraki et al. , MT users are concerned with workpiece´s final accuracy rather than MT accuracy. The National Aerospace Standard (NAS) 979  defines the procedure for a five-axis machining test of a cone frustum, which is widely accepted as a final performance test by machine tool builders.
- Volume of the MT.
- Spatial displacement measurement uncertainty of the employed tracking interferometer.
- As stated by Aguado et al. , the number of measuring systems to be used and the arrangement of them.
- Repeatability of the measured points does not just depend on the repeatability of the machine itself. As far as the measuring time is extended, environmental influences (e.g., machine shop temperature) generally lead to slow changes of MT temperatures affecting the whole volumetric performance. Therefore, time is a crucial factor.
- Tracking interferometers based on optimized laser trackers. They rely on a high accuracy sphere as optical reference for interferometric measurement. This measurement equipment, called laser tracer , was developed by NPL and PTB and commercialised by Etalon AG. It has a spatial displacement measurement uncertainty of U (k = 2) = 0.2 µm + 0.3 µm/m . While laser tracer is a suitable solution for medium and large size MTs, there is a similar solution to the laser tracer, “called laser tracer MT” with a telescopic scheme and employed for maximum measuring volumes of 1 m3 .
- An Absolute Distance Meter (ADM)-based laser trackers has a spatial displacement measurement uncertainty of U (k = 2) = 10 µm + 0.4 µm/m in its whole working range .
- An Absolute Interferometer (AIFM)-based laser tracker has a spatial displacement measurement uncertainty of U (k = 2) = ± 0.4 µm + 0.3 µm/m .
- Thermal and refractive index distortions: The uncertainty of interferometry technique is proportional to the stability of the refractive index of air. Hence, the correct determination of this parameter is of utmost importance for achieving small measurement uncertainties on interferometer based measurements. However, industrial environments normally suffer from unstable conditions, so it becomes a challenge to reduce measurement uncertainties with unfavourable measuring conditions.
- Real time: Real-time coordinate metrology is a requirement for a factory of the future where metrology and manufacture are integrated into a single engineering process that enables 'zero defects'.
- Dimensional traceability to the SI metre: It shall be ensured for any metrology based solution in a factory environment.
- Automation: For a successful integration of the technology into machine and manufacturing processes, wireless and automation capacity shall be improved.
6.1.3. Compensation of Geometric Errors
- Repeatability of the MT: Backlash errors and temperature variation (internal and external) lead to a lack of repeatability. Therefore, long term stability will not be improved.
- Use of long tools: The compensation of orientation requires from three orthogonal rotational axes, which only very few MTs offer. Compensation of angular errors remains a challenge.
- Model conformity: The majority of controllers assume a rigid body model behavior of the machine tool in their compensation models. However, deformations such as column bending and tilt for moving column MTs or table torsion for moving tables CMMs, does not fit to a 21 error model. In these cases, additional parameters shall be included in the compensation model. Therefore, if a model-based compensation is employed, it should be consistent with the machine tool real behavior.
6.2. Dynamic Errors
- Backlash: Backlash error is a position dependant error affecting the contouring accuracy. When the axis changes direction from one side to the other, there is a lag before the table starts moving again, that would cause position error- backlash error . Modelling it is challenging, due to multiple sources and complex behaviour. In general, the backlash vector depends on the motion history of all axes. It can result from mechanical play in drives and guideways, cable track forces, and stick/slip effects .
- Thermo-mechanical errors: Internal and external heat sources combined with different expansion coefficients of machine part materials generate a thermal distortion of the machine’s structural loop which can affect to the accuracy of the measuring process [11,41,114,115,116,117,118]. Expansion coefficient differences may lead to thermal stresses if rules of exact constraint design have not been met carefully.
6.3. Quasi-Static Error Assessment and Monitoring
7. Error Sources Due to the Touch Probe
7.1. Contact Touch Probe
7.1.1. Touch Trigger Probe
7.1.2. Analog Scanning Probes
7.1.3. Factors Affecting Probing Performance
- Operation principle: As mentioned in the previous point, contact probes can be broken into two general groups, scanning and discrete, based on the type of data being taken. Based on uncertainty sources, such as pre-travel variation and repeatability, the uncertainty vary according to the contact touch probe selected for the measuring task on the MT.
- Measurement strategy: A disadvantage of discrete-point probing is that it may take a long time to measure a free-form shaped part. If CAS technology is employed a continuous data acquisition is ensured so the acquisition time can be reduced considerably.
- Movement during probing: Static probing is executed while the component under measurement is motionless. However, dynamic measurement involves a component movement during data acquisition. With touch-trigger probes there is no possibility for static measurements as the trigger signal can only be generated during movement .
- Movement: The suspension can work either passively, with no actuation, or actively with a spring or electro-mechanical actuator. The active acquisition system offers the possibility to ensure a direction-independent probing force. However, the passive system provides better dynamic properties while probing the component and it is also cheaper .
- Kinematics: Probing systems can be mechanically fitted in either a parallel or serial configuration. The configuration influences the static and dynamic behaviour of the probe system, since the size and weight of the probe changes considerably. Serial kinematics comprises several self-independent axes, which are frequently mutually orthogonal. Instead, parallel kinematics configuration involves two axis movement with a coordinate, similar to a hexapod structure [145,146]. Serial and parallel kinematics probes are shown in Figure 16.
- Directional response pattern: A probing system can show varying directional sensitivity response [147,148]; mainly affected by asymmetric arrangement of sensors, asymmetric moment of inertia of stylus, tip ball form error or direction dependent sensitivity of sensors . The effect of direction dependent sensitivity has the result that the same displacement of the tip ball leads to different output signals dependent on the direction of the displacement . However, a correct behaviour characterisation offers the possibility to compensate this anisotropic effect through the control software [150,151,152,153,154].
- Environmental influences: The variation of environmental influences affects every metrology measurement. Consequently, it shall be considered as a part of the repeatability of the MT as a CMM.
- Cleanliness of the Surface: The cleanliness of the surface and the tip ball directly affect the measurement result. Therefore, a clean environment helps to uncertainty reduction on the probing process. In addition, if measurement is executed during the machining process, swarf could seriously influence the probing result. In fact, every effect is related to the probing force. If the probing force is near zero and soft surface contaminations (e.g., oil film) are probed, the signal to noise ratio of the probing system will decrease because of attenuation, which can make a reliable surface detection impossible .
- Tip ball: It is the contacting element between the MT and the component under measurement, so it is of utmost importance to characterize its position with the lowest uncertainty. The corrected measured point is achieved by correcting the tip ball centre point by adding a tip correction vector of the length of tip ball radius in the direction from the centre point to the probed point . The radius value of the tip ball is measured during a specific measuring process, called qualification procedure of the probing system . If the probing direction is needed for the coordinate correction process, it can be calculated from the probing system, by interpolation (from at least three probed points in the neighbourhood of the surface point) or by estimation (from e.g., CAD model). Usually real surfaces show, in addition to long-wave form deviations, random short-wave deviations known as roughness . For such a surface the measured geometric properties represent a superposition of measurand and touching element  leading to a non- linear mechanical filtering effect. This filtering effect has a characteristic similar to a low pass depending on the tip ball diameter, because a smaller tip ball can penetrate smaller roughness valleys than a bigger ball. Because of this effect one gets for measured features different parameter values (size, position, form deviation) dependent on the diameter of the tip ball. As the measurement result is a superposition of tip ball and surface geometry, also form deviations of the ball directly lead to measurement errors. Thus it is necessary to use a tip ball of negligible form deviation compared to the required measurement uncertainty .
- Probing force: The probing force not just causes a bending of the stylus, but also has an effect on the elastic deformation of surface and tip ball due to Hertzian stress. Hertzian stress is the elastic deformation of two bodies touching each other . The extent of deformation is dependent on the materials, micro and macro geometrical forms and the force. The effect of elastic deformations can be compensated to a certain extent by the probing system qualification process.
- Wear of tip ball, plastic deformation and wear of the workpiece surface: Wear and plastic deformation may happen during the probing process. This happens because there are some parameters such as probing force or hardness of contact surfaces that affect to the process. Hence, there are three main effects that cause bad probing results (1) Plastic deformation: Roughness peaks  of the workpiece at the probed points may be considered as wear of the workpiece surface . The compressive strength of the workpiece material can be exceeded even by the small probing force because of the very small contact area between tip ball and roughness peak leading to high pressure. It affects the appearance of the probed surface (2) Wear of tip ball can occur during the scanning measuring process on a hard rough surface (3) Materials of tip ball and workpiece interact. It may occur that microscopic small particles break out of the surface due to local welding effects. Under normal circumstances, very little pick-up occurs .
- Probing system qualification: The position of the tip ball centre point related to the reference point of the probing system, the radius of the tip ball and the lobing error must be characterised to perform low uncertainty measurements [162,163]. These parameters are determined by a measuring procedure called probing system qualification.
7.2. Non-Contact Touch Probe
7.3. Factors Affecting Non-Contact Probing Performance
8. Error Sources Due to the Measuring Software
- Offline programming: A computer-aided manufacturing (CAM)-style programming environment with good machine tool virtual modelling, simulation capabilities, automatic path generation with collision avoidance, and complete geometrical fitting and tolerancing functionality is required. Programming languages such as DMIS also allow interfacing and collaborating with CMMs for efficient programming.
- Bi-directional interface: A direct and bi-directional interface is a must to analyse data in real time as soon as the measurement of a feature is completed. The calculated metrology characteristics are used as a part of the on-the-fly decision making and written back to the machine tool controller as a part of the adaptive cycle.
- Ability to handle high-density point cloud data: When interfacing with a laser to measure large parts, very large amounts of data will be gathered. The software, in addition to offering a live interface with the machine tool, must also be able to handle the display and interaction with such data.
- Geometric feature extractions: For on-machine geometrical feature measurements and geometric dimensioning and tolerancing (GD&T) applications, an automatic feature extraction is necessary. Most point cloud systems today are offline and need operator interaction to calculate the required features. An on-machine measurement software that will interface with a laser system should also have a robust automatic feature extraction capability.
- Ease of operation: The measurement program must be integrated into the machining centre similar to any other machining program. This allows the measuring to be integrated as a part of manufacturing cycles and can be automatically started by itself. A G-Code NC program is created by post-processing the DMIS measurement routine and resides in the controller.
9. Error Sources Due to the Measured Object
10. Error Budget Quantitative Approach
11. Outlook and Conclusions
Conflicts of Interest
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|Kinematic Resistive Probe||Strain Gauge Probe|
Low mass (so low inertia at the triggering instant)
Easy to retrofit to all types of CMM
Low and almost uniform pre-travel variations in all directions
More accurate measurements
Low bending deflection (leading low hysteresis)
Low trigger force
Support much longer styli
|Cons||Directional dependent pre-travel variation|
Micro-degradation of contact surfaces
Exhibit re-seat failures over time
Limiting the length of stylus
Resistance through the contact elements as the means to sense trigger
|0–10 µm||10–100 µm||100–1000 µm|
|Machine tool geometry|
|0–10 µm||10–100 µm||100–1000 µm|
|Machine tool geometry|
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Mutilba, U.; Gomez-Acedo, E.; Kortaberria, G.; Olarra, A.; Yagüe-Fabra, J.A. Traceability of On-Machine Tool Measurement: A Review. Sensors 2017, 17, 1605. https://doi.org/10.3390/s17071605
Mutilba U, Gomez-Acedo E, Kortaberria G, Olarra A, Yagüe-Fabra JA. Traceability of On-Machine Tool Measurement: A Review. Sensors. 2017; 17(7):1605. https://doi.org/10.3390/s17071605Chicago/Turabian Style
Mutilba, Unai, Eneko Gomez-Acedo, Gorka Kortaberria, Aitor Olarra, and Jose A. Yagüe-Fabra. 2017. "Traceability of On-Machine Tool Measurement: A Review" Sensors 17, no. 7: 1605. https://doi.org/10.3390/s17071605