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Renishaw's innovative gauging system, the Equator, launched last year, fills a measurement gap between complex CMMs and fixed or dedicated gauges.

"At one end of the spectrum you have CMMs, which are very accurate, very flexible and fully programmable systems, but you need a trained inspector to run them. At the other end you have fixed gauges, which machine operators can use on the shop floor to measure specific features or specific parts, so it has no flexibility and is not as accurate as a CMM," explains David Chang, applications and support engineer for Renishaw (Canada) Ltd., Mississuaga, ON.

The Equator is designed for manufacturers searching for the flexibility of a CMM and the benefit of a fixed gauge in a cost competitive package.

"Customers may not want a fixed gauge because the production volume is not high and if you need to measure several features for a part, you need multiple gauges and the cost can add up. And CMMs are typically expensive units too. The Equator is less expensive than a CMMs and it has the flexibility to measure multiple features or multiple parts on one machine because you simply program the features and parts you need measured into the system," adds Chang.

The Equator can also be used as an in-line or off-line system. With an in-line system, the Equator is equipped with a PLC input and output program which allows for communication between multiple devices. Measurement results are fed back to the machining program automatically. Off-line, the gauge can be located in the production area, but instead of having measurement data fed back automatically, the operator would read the results on the Equator and then adjust the CNC machine program.

"The Equator offers customers more options for measurement. In the past customers would have to choose between a CMM or a fixed gauge and now the Equator gives them the benefit of both systems in one product," says Chang.

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