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    Default Laser toolsetter woes

    Hey guys, on our 5x machine or laser toolsetter is giving us grief. The height seems to float around and not consistant. We cleaned the lens under the shutter on the outside of the unit, I was told it was probably dirty on the inside and needs a rebuild, My question is this,, is there a lifespan on these? do they wear out? Does anyone know of a place here in the U.S. that rebuilds these? I got a price from the manufacturer and they said $4200.00 to rebuild and 6 weeks turnaround, yikes I cant wait that long. An already rebuilt unit is over 8k and a new unit is over 11k.

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    Laser toolsetters are extremely accurate, but they will measure the damn lint and dirt on the endmills unlike a touch probe.

    Tool lengths on the 5-axis machines appeared to float around all over the place, which caused all kinds of descrepancies and rework on the parts.

    Our laser probes had the same issues (BLUM) and the only solution besides retrofit was inspect the tools after you handle them with gloves. The machinists hated the laser probes from day one.

    Not sure if you have the same issue, but easy to check and test. Measure a clean tool several times and note the reading. Re-measure same tool with some tiny lint fluff and re-check.

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    The discussion on this topic is recently repeated quite frequently. From my experiance (hundred laser systems installed, serviced and supported) I can clearely say: Laser tool setter is not more accurate then any electromechanical system. It has a lot of inherent problems: supply of the clean air, lenses cleaning, a lot of valves to operate it and demand for M functions. In addition problems of the propagation of the laser beam (in harsh conditions it is not straight). And of course the price.
    My suggestion: whenever possible, go back to the basics and use elctromechanical touch tool setter. When operated correctly it is quicker then laser for both tool setting and tool breakage detection.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Philabuster View Post
    Not sure if you have the same issue, but easy to check and test. Measure a clean tool several times and note the reading. Re-measure same tool with some tiny lint fluff and re-check.
    I had the service crew in to do a geometry check on the machine, at the end we were calibrating the laser, this is when my issues showed up, we used a mounted tooling ball for checking the know length, which seemed to float around about .002. In the past the most I saw was about .0002

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    Had a look at the literature on their TMSC100 laser measuring system. Is this the unit you are using or a different one? Anyway, looks like other optical systems I've worked on. I can see where dist and dust in the unit could cause the sort of problem you are seeing. Problem is a lot of delicate parts have to be removed, vapor cleaned and replaced, all in a cleanroom type environment. It's not something you can blow out with an air nozzle. There is no way to know, before hand, if special tools from Fidia are required for disassembly or alignment.

    As far as price, to paraphrase the old saw, you can get timely or you can get cheap, just not at the same time. This is not a job I could take on with a time deadline looming overhead.

    Do you have the Fidia controller or the Fanuc system? I would ask a system integrator what the cost was to retrofit a third party laser toolsetter. Could be you could get a new unit for the price of the repair.

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    We have an issue with the BLUM on our 3-axis Sodick, but not the 5-axis (same BLUM system, earlier build date). Seems to vary in 'Z ', +/-.05mm. The same unit on the 5-axis is micron-level repeatability. We've tried cleaning tools, as the 5-axis has a tool cleaning cycle prior to checks where as the 3-axis does not --makes no difference.

    We're still scratching our head on the whole issue....

    Best of luck.

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    Hey Iím running into the same issue with my sodick UH650L bloom tool setter as well... my calibration tool is reading .0007 short... it usually is +-.0001... have you guys figured out whatís going on with yours? Any advice or input would be appreciated! Thanks in advance.

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    you ever use optical alignment equipment when air temperature fluctuates ? its like looking down a highway on a hot day and the air is shimmering and target appears to be moving back and forth
    .
    quite normal to have to put plastic up to block cold ventilation air and or close doors blocking air drafts. so target moving fast (seconds) do not happen or are minimized. then there is slow target moving. if target on outside building column being heated by the sun a target on outside column can move .030" over a 6 hour period compared to 2nd target on a inside column with more stable temperature. obviously machines changing temperature move around often over .001" like 5 or 10 times per hour
    .
    obviously a laser has same problems in addition to cause you do not see dirt you not sure if reading a dirt or the tool like a optical tool setter you would see it. and runout both tool holder and runout of tool (tools have ground in resharpening runout in addition to tool not always straight.)
    .
    i check a optical tool presetter every day with a calibration test target. it varies day to day up to .002" about 99% of time. its rare to get less than .0002" error. can pick up test bar and reseat and get more than .0002" just rereading it again. collect daily read calibration 1000 times see what is normal repeatability.
    .
    obvious any cnc can have its grid shift calibration need adjustment (many check grid shift weekly if not more often). many cnc vary over .001" like 10 times per hour if they are experiencing temperature fluxations. both hot and cold. coolant can have a chilling effect and easily effect things unless its temperature is controlled +/-1F and even then cause of evaporation cooling it still can cause a chilling effect. often hydraulic systems can take many hours to stabilize temperature thats why many leave them on never shut off
    .
    and some machine slides float on hydrostatic oil pressure and if pressure is fluctuating a slide can be going up or down easily .002", slow movement hard to detect sometimes. a servo can be oscillating over .001" back and forth and if slow over 15 second oscillation its very easy to not notice it

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    Quote Originally Posted by Philabuster View Post
    Laser toolsetters are extremely accurate, but they will measure the damn lint and dirt on the endmills unlike a touch probe.

    .
    I have a setting scope that shows all the lint and dust etc.

    Use Tack Cloth to clean end of endmills.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 5 axis Fidia guy View Post
    Hey guys, on our 5x machine or laser toolsetter is giving us grief. The height seems to float around and not consistant. We cleaned the lens under the shutter on the outside of the unit, I was told it was probably dirty on the inside and needs a rebuild, My question is this,, is there a lifespan on these? do they wear out? Does anyone know of a place here in the U.S. that rebuilds these? I got a price from the manufacturer and they said $4200.00 to rebuild and 6 weeks turnaround, yikes I cant wait that long. An already rebuilt unit is over 8k and a new unit is over 11k.
    Stupid simple question so I apologize, I don't mean it as rude...

    Is the machine in sunlight?

    The Hermle I ran had occasional issues with wandering tool length when measuring the tool. After a lot of beating our heads against the wall, we finally, but dumb luck, figured out that when measuring the tool, if the sun was just right, the sun would light up a piece of dust, the dust would then somehow trigger the laser sensor, giving a ever so slightly different reading.

    Probably NOT your issue.... but thought I would share it.

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    Several years ago I programmed for a Kitamura HX500 with a laser tool setter. The machine was new and tight, but the setter was never reliable to less than .002". Every contact tool probe I've used has been reliable within .0001", and will work on .010" drills without breaking them.

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    Yeah our machine is less then a year old and is thermally stable it weighs in just under 18,000lbs and has 2 chillers... the machine is fully linear in all axes... Our shop is climate controlled the the temp only varies a few degrees... every morning I come in and run my laser calibration included I have a a spindle warm up and dwells before running the calibration and like I stated itís usually +-.0001... I recently have been cutting graphite in the machine so maybe the lenses just need cleaned out...

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    We have a blum laser on our Mikron and it's usually very accurate but have run into some issues that can throw it off.

    -First thing I would check is to make sure the calibration tool is clean including the taper on the toolholder. On our Heidenhain I always run the calibration program at least twice if I haven't run it recently (within maybe a half hour)

    Also, if anyone else runs the machine you may want to double check the length you have set for the calibration tool, I have accidentally erased it before running a tool measure cycle instead of a calibration cycle.

    -It's very important the air supply is clean/dry we had our compressor go bad and send oil into the lines, it was getting past all the filters and traps into the laser. Started getting bad measurements and the laser would just plain error out all the time.

    -This was when I learned you can take the laser apart yourself to clean the internals, the shutter on the outside is just for protection you need to remove the end-cover of both housings (I think it was four shcs's per side) and clean the actual lenses behind the shutter. I had a tech show me how to do this the first time but it's pretty simple just don't drop any of the parts.

    -On our machine there is a regulator in the back that controls the air supply which keeps the body of the laser pressurized. This is supposed to help keep all the chips and coolant etc out of it during machining. At some point in the past this had been turned completely off on our machine, not sure why. The air-blast for the end of the tool during the measurement was still functioning but you should be able to feel positive pressure coming from the hole in the laser when the machine is sitting idle.

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    Rob thanks for the input like I stated every morning I come in and run my calibration and make sure itís hitting where it needs to be and if I know I have a job that I really have to nail my sizes Iíll run it twice to make sure I get a good reading on my tool lengths and dia... the machine is pretty damn accurate sometimes it blows my mind how accurate it is... we did just get a new atlas copco rotary screw compresser so I know Iím getting good clean air... Before running the calibration I clean the calibration tool holder and ďtoolĒ itís self off with isopropyl alcohol and give it a good air blast clean... Iím beginning to think the tool setter itself needs cleaned we have had the machine around 7 months now and Iíve yet to take the covers off and whipe it down... I frequently switch from cutting graphite to hard milling so maybe I got some mist oil in there along with some graphite dust and that could be giving me the bad reading... how should I go about cleaning it? Take the 4 screws off the cover and just give it a goodwhipe down with a microfiber cloth? And yes ours does have the positive air pressure when itís sitting idle... itís quite annoying listening to that all day haha...

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    All this double and triple checking. blowing off and tack rags.....
    These things are supposed to be one of the keys to automation and lights out manufacturing.
    Are you all saying they can't be trusted on their own?
    Bob

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    If you were running jobs that were +-.0005/.001 then yes all day it would probably be fine but when your trying to hold tolerances +-.0001 and sometimes less yeah it takes some double and triple checking to hold those kind of tolerances...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fal Grunt View Post
    Stupid simple question so I apologize, I don't mean it as rude...

    Is the machine in sunlight?

    The Hermle I ran had occasional issues with wandering tool length when measuring the tool. After a lot of beating our heads against the wall, we finally, but dumb luck, figured out that when measuring the tool, if the sun was just right, the sun would light up a piece of dust, the dust would then somehow trigger the laser sensor, giving a ever so slightly different reading.

    Probably NOT your issue.... but thought I would share it.
    An actual plurality of dry microscopic particles do cause a diffraction and specking effect with laser light / collimated beams.

    This is actually one method by which atmospheric pollutants and things like asbestos particles are detected (in the atmosphere) and interpreted / mapped out through laser 'Speckle" patterns.

    This effect is independent of temperature.

    Haven't dug into the blue lasers (shorter wavelength) from Renishaw etc.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CarbideBob View Post
    All this double and triple checking. blowing off and tack rags.....
    These things are supposed to be one of the keys to automation and lights out manufacturing.
    Are you all saying they can't be trusted on their own?
    Bob
    I don't know of anybody who is using a BLUM laser (or equivalent) in a "lights out" scenario for anything other than broken tool detection. It's awfully rare to have a broken tool move less than .002in. My "quick" broken tool cycle doesn't trigger an alarm unless the length differs .015 or more.

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    My opinion on laser tool setters can be seen above. Although they are very fashionable now, one should notice and realize that machine tool is not a dandy. If one is looking for instrument, which specs cover highest accuracy on wide span of cutting tools diameters and forms, the VTS from Marposs is the answer. Watch this video:
    YouTube

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    Quote Originally Posted by HSM_CHIEF View Post
    Rob thanks for the input like I stated every morning I come in and run my calibration and make sure itís hitting where it needs to be and if I know I have a job that I really have to nail my sizes Iíll run it twice to make sure I get a good reading on my tool lengths and dia... the machine is pretty damn accurate sometimes it blows my mind how accurate it is... we did just get a new atlas copco rotary screw compresser so I know Iím getting good clean air... Before running the calibration I clean the calibration tool holder and ďtoolĒ itís self off with isopropyl alcohol and give it a good air blast clean... Iím beginning to think the tool setter itself needs cleaned we have had the machine around 7 months now and Iíve yet to take the covers off and whipe it down... I frequently switch from cutting graphite to hard milling so maybe I got some mist oil in there along with some graphite dust and that could be giving me the bad reading... how should I go about cleaning it? Take the 4 screws off the cover and just give it a goodwhipe down with a microfiber cloth? And yes ours does have the positive air pressure when itís sitting idle... itís quite annoying listening to that all day haha...
    No problem, yeah can't hurt to try cleaning it. Just the 4 screws for the cover, and you need to do both sides of the laser. I used one of the disposable cleaning wipes meant for safety glasses but a microfiber and some alcohol or windex would probably be good. As long as it can't scratch.

    When you take the cover off, there is also a spring loaded plunger that is held in place by a screw from the bottom of the cover. It protects the lens, if you have time it's not a bad idea to pull it out and give it a clean and some fresh lithium grease.

    Quote Originally Posted by CarbideBob View Post
    All this double and triple checking. blowing off and tack rags.....
    These things are supposed to be one of the keys to automation and lights out manufacturing.
    Are you all saying they can't be trusted on their own?
    Bob
    I think overall the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. I have scrapped at least one part I can remember because of measuring a tool wrong. But it has saved me many more times.

    But no, it's not automagic and it does add complexity. One application engineer was explaining how we should setup the tool parameters on our new machine to prevent plunging the tool directly into the laser body. Nice

    I've never used a physical touch tool setter, but can they measure the true radius on a bull or ball-nose endmill within a couple tenths?


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