How Does a Coordinate Measuring Machine Work?

A coordinate measuring machine uses a probe tip, laser, white light or optical eye to measure the features of an object, then turns the information into a mathematical form that can be applied to other forms. These machines are used in a number of applications, like manufacturing or assembly. This allows the parts to be tested to ensure that they will fit correctly or assemble without issues on the manufacturing floor.

The average coordinate measuring machine, also called a CMM, has three axes. The X,Y and Z are arranged in an orthogonal pattern, which is common in three-dimensional machines. The probe, which can be run by a computer program or an operator, moves along these axes to give an accurate measurement of the item that is being scanned. When a probe is used that must physically touch the item, unlike a laser or a light, then the measurements are offset to compensate for the size of the probe. These measurements are done with micrometer precision. The machine is able to get the measurements that exactly allow the results to be used repeatedly to run tests and assure the quality of the item being measured. These machines come in various sizes depending on their application. Some coordinate measuring machines can fit on a table while others are large enough to measure a jet plane wing.