How to improve the production efficiency of automotive sheet metal parts manufacturing

Creaform customized solutions empower automated quality control for multi-category component batches

With the rapid development of China’s automobile industry, consumer expectations are higher and more diversified than ever before. While buying a car, consumers consider the basic transportation needs as well as the aesthetic quality of the vehicle. Increasingly, the demands of major car companies for novel and complex designs have put pressure on suppliers in mold design and sheet metal manufacturing.

With the rapid development of the automobile industry and its production capacity, traditional sheet metal processes can no longer meet the sector’s growing needs. Therefore, it is necessary to consider new and innovative technologies to keep up with the industry’s ever-evolving needs.

Nanjing Xingqiao WeitechAuto Parts Co. Ltd. specializes in the design and manufacturing of automotive chassis assemblies and body parts. It is a company that integrates design, development, and manufacturing. Before finding Creaform, their quality control department faced different challenges in manufacturing.

Challenge 1: Regular quality control of stamping dies

Employee on the production line using a MetraSCAN 3D scanner to measure stamping dies

Stamping is one of the four major processes in automobile production. It is a process that relies on presses and molds to apply external force to sheet material to deform them and obtain different shapes, sizes and performance levels. The die used for stamping is the stamping die, which is a special tool for mass production and the processing of sheet metal products.

 In the company’s stamping die workshop, due to the large number of sheet metal products that need to be produced every day, the dies inevitably become worn. For the quality control department, in order to ensure product quality, regular inspections of molds are particularly important. Due to the complex environment of the workshop, factors, such as noise and vibrations, permeate the area. This requires more stringent testing for quality control. Testing adaptability, efficiency and accuracy are key.

Close up of employee on the production line using a MetraSCAN 3D scanner to measure stamping dies

Traditional testing equipment, such as fixed coordinate measuring machines (CMMs), cannot be used in the stamping die workshop because of the fluctuations in temperature and humidity. What’s more, moving the dies back and forth from the lab is inefficient and causes increases in labour costs. Detecting anomalies can be a long, drawn-out process.

The quality control team needed portable 3D measurement solutions to perform high-precision measurements in complex environments.

Nanjing Xingqiao WeitechAuto Parts Co. Ltd. chose Creaform’s optimal CMM, the MetraSCAN 3D, which met the team’s criteria for high accuracy, great speed and ease of use.

After using the portable optical 3D scanner MetraSCAN 3D for a while, quality control inspectors said: “The MetraSCAN 3D is really suitable for our stamping factory. It is fast and accurate, as it is equipped with 15 blue lasers and up to 0.025 mm accuracy levels. It generates 1,800,000 measurements per second, is user-friendly, entails no warm-up, and can generate meshes in real time. In addition, the ergonomic design not only allows us to quickly complete inspection tasks but also greatly reduces physical exertion.”

Left: Employee on the production line using a MetraSCAN 3D scanner to measure stamping dies - Right: Screen displaying the color map of the scanned casting dies and model

Challenge 2: Multi-category and mass-volume automated quality control of sheet metal products

With the upgrading of sheet metal product production capacity, the requirements for product quality control have gradually increased for the inspection department. The traditional method of manual inspections with inspection tools could not meet the throughput KPIs mass production. Furthermore, customers always have very strict requirements for the inspection of sheet metal products. Due to the complex shapes and structures of sheet metal parts, traditional manual inspection is inefficient and completely dependent on the experience level of the operators. Many sheet metal parts are made of highly reflective materials, which brought on another set of challenges. Before finding Creaform, Nanjing Xingqiao WeitechAuto Parts Co. Ltd. had tried different 3D measurement technologies but was not satisfied with the results.

In order to automate the company’s quality control workflows, Creaform recommended the R-Series™, which is designed for automated quality control applications. It is ideal for manufacturers that want to measure more dimensions of more parts and increase productivity without compromising on accuracy. The Series is comprised of an industrial measurement cell, the CUBE-R™, MetraSCAN 3D-R™ optical CMM. This customized solution is designed for in-line inspections right on the factory floor. Equipped with 69 laser lines, the MetraSCAN 3D-R has up to 3 million measurements per second and an accuracy of up to 0.025 mm. It is suitable for components with complex geometries, different types of materials and surfaces, and especially for sheet metal parts with multi-edges and sheared edges.

Customer equipment and tools

Customer equipment and tools

In order to inspect different series of sheet metal products on the same inspection equipment, Creaform customized the corresponding inspection program for the automatic series identification. By scanning the lower-left corner of the sheet metal product, the QR code can quickly identify the product model and execute the corresponding program.

Sheet metal part on the turntable in front of robot arm

A complete automated 3D scanning process can generally be carried out within 3-5 minutes. The benefits? The grid is generated in real time while scanning, what you see is what you get, and a complete inspection report is generated immediately after the process is completed. The report includes detailed data results, such as hole positions, surface deviations, trim deviations, etc. This helps teams quickly identify part anomalies.

Left: Metal sheet on turntable part in front of robot mounted MetraSCAN 3D-R - Right: Scanned data and color map of the sheet metal part

Nanjing Xingqiao WeitechAuto Parts Co. Ltd. was extremely impressed with the performance of Creaform’s 3D measurement solutions.

Article written by Creaform

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