10/8/2008 | 1 MINUTE READ

Optical Comparators Provide Quickness And Accuracy

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Imagine having to take measurements of a part that is 2 inches in diameter or smaller by hand. It would be almost impossible to produce an accurate measurement of a complex part. This is why optical comparators, also known as measuring projectors, are useful for shops that measure/inspect small parts, such as those in the medical or aerospace industries.

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Have you ever tried to read words written in very small type or tried to inspect a small object? The outcome is usually a headache, frustration from failure to see the details or both, which gets you nowhere.

Imagine having to take measurements of a part that is 2 inches in diameter or smaller by hand. It would be almost impossible to produce an accurate measurement of a complex part. This is why optical comparators, also known as measuring projectors, are useful for shops that measure/inspect small parts, such as those in the medical or aerospace industries. The concept is simple: The instrument projects onto a screen a magnified profile of the part being measured. Various templates or patterns in addition to graduated scales can be placed on the screen and compared to the projected shadow of the part.

One example of an optical comparator from The L.S. Starrett Company profiles parts on a 16-inch-diameter screen with 10 to 100 times magnification. A digital readout device is equipped with the machine for geometric dimensioning and tolerancing calculations.

Features such as angles, outside diameters, runout, hole sizes, corner breaks, threads, radii and shaft lengths can be measured on an optical comparator.

Time savings during inspection is a major benefit to using an optical comparator. If operators had to inspect precise parts using only regular gages, such as micrometers and indicators, inspections could take 2 to 4 times longer. The non-contact optical system can graphically display and measure parts with dimensions and shapes that would be hard to measure with regular gages.

The bottom line: For a fast and accurate small-part measurement system, optical comparators can be the simple answer to headaches and frustration within a precision parts facility.

To learn about how one shop’s investment in an optical comparator helped the company reduce inspection time by 75 percent and increase measurement accuracy, read Optical Measurement Keeps Pointe Precision Sharp. 

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