Your quality assurance department depends on competitive metrology equipment and at the centerpiece is the coordinate measuring machine. While automotive and aerospace industries have led the way demanding more accurate quality control measures from their suppliers, many sectors are following suit and shops that have previously done their measuring with gages are moving toward coordinate measuring machines. If you have yet to enter the market for these instruments, buying a used tool is a great way to introduce the technology on a budget, and as you see your ability to meet tighter deadlines increase and your errors go down, you may even start considering investing in additional metrology instruments like laser scanners and portable arms.
Buying a used coordinate measuring machine can deliver a significant ROI, because while it should cost about half to two-thirds the sticker price of a new model, it should operate mechanically the same. However, there is a caveat to this: only buy used coordinate measuring machines from respected dealers who will thoroughly inspect used coordinate measuring machines and repair or refurbish any performance issues before resale. When you buy from an auction or directly from the shop unloading it, you have no such guarantees about its performance, which could seriously delay your production schedule when you have to call an expert for repairs.
Before you go shopping for a used CMM, follow this 4-point checklist of things you should expect from a dealer before you make your purchase.
If you are not in a position to visit the site and see the machine in action personally, make sure you at least request a video of it performing a parts routine to see that it’s mechanically sound. You should expect to see these videos when you request a quote, as any reputable dealer will make sure that their equipment is ready for action before selling it.
Warranties can be difficult to find when you’re buying used instruments, but the dealer should provide a guarantee that the equipment will be operational when it arrives in your shop. Dealers that belong to the MDNA (Machinery Dealers National Association) like Canadian Measurement Metrology Inc. (CMM) adhere to a strict code of ethics which means providing reliable used machinery.
Transporting any metrology instrument is a process that should be done by professionals, since any major collision or damage to an axis can seriously compromise the accuracy of the tool – and accuracy is the reason these instruments exist in the first place. Delivery is one more reason to buy from a dealer as auction houses will leave you high and dry when it comes time to remove the equipment, and unless it’s properly secured, you can do some real damage to it.
Even shops buying new equipment frequently come with a number of requests for customized retrofits and upgrades to fit their needs, so don’t be surprised if you do as well, whether that means new probing systems, particular software like PC-DMIS, or vision systems for malleable parts. Dealers and retrofitters should be able to match your requests so that when you get it on your floor, it’s right for the job. It’s time to get into metrology if you want your shop to keep up with your customers’ demands; get a used coordinate measuring machine now.