QMT Features: April 2017
Focus on 3D
The 3D Metrology Conference is a new event designed to bring applications and innovations in 3D metrology to a wide European audience

This industry-focused event offers workshops, delivers talks and hosts an exhibition which appeal to a wide range of interests in what is increasingly seen as a critical and enabling technology.

End users represented by engineers, procurement and quality managers are a key target audience but service providers, metrology systems manufacturers and researchers cover the full audience spectrum. The industry sectors which they represent are equally wide and include aerospace, automotive, power generation, marine, off-shore, built environment, cultural heritage and virtual reality. Within these industries applications come in all scales, from the reverse engineering and inspection of small parts to the as-built 3D modelling of entire process plants.

If this scope seems too large for one event, remember that many 3D measurement tools such as imaging and scanning are applicable across a broad range of scales and manufactured objects. Major systems manufacturers such as Hexagon MI, Nikon Metrology and Faro Technologies provide the tools for exactly this wide spectrum of industries and applications. Users themselves are increasingly comfortable crossing boundaries and a company offering reverse engineering of manufactured parts will also be happy to model ancient Egyptian artefacts for a local museum. A surveying company modelling bridge deformations with a total station might buy a laser tracker to do tooling jig inspection for a local car manufacturer. Drones developed for making maps can be used to inspect damage on aircraft, indoor GPS can be used to monitor an archaeological dig.

This is a fascinating, high-value technology area where cross connections produce new applications and solutions and an event which makes these connections meets an important need.

The conference is chaired by Ben Hughes from the UK’s National Physical Laboratory and has been set up by experts in portable and fixed 3D metrology from the WZL (Aachen University’s Machine Tool lab), PTB (Germany’s national standards lab), NPL (the UK’s national standards lab) and UCL (University College London). However, this is no academic conference. There are no scientific papers, only presentations. There are no formal social events, only good networking evenings where you can, for example, discuss the poster presentations over a drink with other measurement experts.

The first event was held last year in Aachen in November 2016 and the second event will be held this year between 9th and 11th October, at the Tivoli Stadium in Aachen, Germany. However, future events will take place in other European locations with the intention of attracting a wider audience and giving the conference, year-on-year, a bigger presence.

The first event was developed as short notice but still attracted 13 exhibitors and 120 members of the audience in the presentation sessions. The audience itself was approximately 63% from industry and 37% from research, and had representatives from 20 countries. This year the event is aiming to be 30% - 50% bigger and prospects look promising.

There were 25 very diverse presentations. For example, German service company Sigma3D talked about the alignment of radio telescopes, PTB presented an advanced interferometric measurement system, Airbus Toulouse outlined a new procedure for measuring brackets on the A350, Tata Steel in the Netherlands used a 3D camera to measure flatness on strips from a steel rolling mill, Rolls-Royce Germany applied optical methods to control the shape of turbine blades, Zeiss compared CMMs with photogrammetric systems and Milan Polytechnic optimized the analysis of computed tomography images.

There was excellent participant feedback with positive suggestions which the organizers will feed into the second event of the series in October. This event is now open for presentation proposals on any subject which promotes the application and development of 3D metrology.
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