Three-dimensional coordinate metrology has gained much attention in recent years. On one hand, the accuracy and repeatability of a coordinate measuring machine (CMM) are approaching the sub-micron level. On the other hand, there is hardly any part that exists of which the dimensions cannot be measured with a CMM. This paper presents the recent development and applications in three-dimensional coordinate metrology. The emphasis has been placed in the utilization of computers and integration with CAD/CAM systems. Three important technologies, namely, CAD-directed inspection, three-dimensional optimal match, and reverse engineering are presented and discussed. With computers and CAD/CAM support, three-dimensional coordinate metrology has become an active part of the computer-integrated manufacturing (CIM). Its versatility and high degree of automation have made the CMM a universal inspection machine for quality control of manufactured parts in computer integrated manufacturing.

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