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The Coordinate Measuring Machine first appeared in the early 60's and the Coordinate Measuring Machine industry was immediately born. The earliest Coordinate Measuring Machine was a 3D devices with a simple DRO displaying the XYZ position of the X Y Z Machine.

There has been much dispute over the years concerning the original inventor of the Co-ordinate Measuring Machine, which has been abbreviated to CMM or CMM's over the years; the nomenclature CMM Machine has now become the industry standard term for 3D Measuring Machines. The first CMM Devices were probably introduced by the Italian company DEA (Digital Electronic Automation Spa) which introduced a Portal Frame CMM with Hard Probe, shortly after Ferranti Metrology from Scotland introduced its Cantilever CMM with D R O and Fixed Probes. DEA introduced their C.M.M. just a few months prior to Ferranti. Ferranti (now International Metrology Systems or IMS ) probably introduced the first DCC CMM (Direct Computer Assist) while DEA claim to have introduced the first CNC CMM. LK Tool, also from the UK have long claimed to produce the first Bridge CMM that has become the standard configuration for CMM Machines in past years. Cantilever CMM, Bridge CMM, Gantry CMM, Horizontal Arm CMM, Portal CMM, Moving Table CMM, Fixed Bridge CMM and Articulated Arm CMM have all become other common configurations for CMMs. The C.M.M. industry today produces over 6000 CMMs annually; C.M.M's come either as a Manual CMM where the CMM Operator manually guides the ManualCMM around the part to undertake CMM Inspection or as a CNC CMM where the CMM is driven automatically from the CMM Part Program.

Each industrialized country of the world has created a domestic CMM Industry. The largest proliferation of CMM Companies have come from the UK. Ferranti Metrology started the UK CMM Industry and licensed their technology to Bendix Corporation in the U.S after a short period where Bendix acted as CMM Sales Agents in the US for the Ferranti CMM. Bendix CMM became the dominant CMM Supplier with its Cordax CMM during the 60's and 70' later becoming known as the Sheffield CMM or Sheffield Company. The Cordax CMM was primarily a Cantilever Style Manual CMM with Hard Probes migrating to Touch Probes from Renishaw as the technology became available. DCC CMMs from Cordax and Sheffield also became popular as computers entered the field of CMM Metrology.

IMS machines include the Impact CMM, Merlin CMM, and the Umpire CMM a flexible shop-floor gage. LK CMMs are the G80 CMM, G90 CMM, G80C CMM, G90C CMM and use LK DMIS or Cameo CMM software.

Other UK CMM Manufacturers have included W & A Metrology, Status Metrology, Eley & Warren, LK Tool, Notsa, Vickers Maxicheck, Kemco, Disc GB and International Metrology Systems or IMS. As part of the local industry consolidation Notsa was acquired by Vickers Maxicheck, which was subsequently taken over by Ferranti Metrology. LK CMM known for a while as LK Tool and now known, as L.K. Metrology was a spin off from Notsa while Kemco and Eley Metrology were started by ex LK employees.

Italian CMM Companies have included D.E.A., Poli, Coord3, and Prima. Prima Industries were focused on Shopfloor CMMs and the CMM Gage and were the first to recognize Flexible Metrology as the future of Shopfloor Gaging, they were acquired by DEA in the early 90's who also purchased the Renault CMM Company from France. DEA are one of the most famous CMM Brands and DEA CMM's can be found in most countries of the world; its brands of CMM include the DEA Omicron CMM, DEA IOTA CMM, DEA Epsilon CMM, DEA Beta CMM, DEA Delta CMM, DEA Gamma CMM, DEA Swift CMM, DEA Omega CMM, DEA Bravo CMM and DEA Lambda CMM. DEA are famous for having produced the largest Gantry Coordinate Measuring Machines ever built.

French Coordinate Measuring Machine companies have included Renault CMM whose CMMs were marketed in the US by Federal CMM along side their own CMM's that originated with Boice, CMA who have recently changed their name from MFO after a merger with Tri-ax and Tri-Measure who specialized in Ceramic Structure CMM's. French CMM Software includes Prelude Inspect; now part of Matra and Metrologic the developers of Metrolog II metrology software.

German Coordinate-Measuring-Machine companies include the industry leading Zeiss CMM who is the largest along with Wenzel, Mora, and Steifflmeyer, the latter three are all famous for Horizontal CMM's. Wenzel is the fastest growing CMM company in Europe and the largest Renishaw Probe customer. Carl Zeiss CMM produces the High Accuracy CMM with Scanning Probes while most other CMM brands use the Renishaw Touch Probe. Zeiss CMM names include Zeiss Prismo Vast CMM, Zeiss WMM CMM, Zeiss UMC CMM, Zeiss UC CMM, Zeiss UPMC CMM, Zeiss Eclipse CMM, Contura CMM, Vista CMM. The Zeiss Horizontal Arm CMM are named Zeiss Carmet CMM, Zeiss SMC CMM and Zeiss SMM CMM. Zeiss Probes are the Vast Probe, HSS Probe Head, RDS/RST, Zeiss also manufacture the manual CMM called ScanMax which uses ScanWare Software. Zeiss offer the Calypso CMM Software as well as Holos CMM Software, and have developed CMM-OS to allow 3rd party Metrology Software to be interfaced to Zeiss CMMs. One other German CMM manufacturer is Leitz, (now named The Wezlar CMM) which has always specialized in the Ultra High Accuracy CMM and was acquired by Brown and Sharpe in the early 90's. The Zeiss Vast CMM system has dominated the automotive power train application over past years.

Switzerland produced the SIP Company manufacturer of the SIP CMM another High Accuracy CMM. In addition Switzerland is the home of Metromec the first mainstream supplier of PC based Metrology Software, which became popular with most CMM Manufacturers in the mid 80's and CMM Users who started looking for User Friendly CMM Systems. Today Metromec is a wholly owned subsidiary of Wenzel and is a main stream supplier of CAD CMM software.
Sweden only has one Coordinate Measuring Machine Supplier the C.E. Johansson Company known as CEJ or C.E.J. this company was merged with Ram Optical the Metrology Division of Newport in 2000 and recently was sold the Hexagon and became an integral part of the Hexagon Metrology Group.

Spain has entered the CMM industry in recent years with the Trimek CMM.

The United States has its own CMM Manufacturing Companies all producing CMM's. Sheffield was the dominant name in the CMM Market with its Apollo RS CMM, Cordax CMM, Sheffield 1808 in Manual CMM and DCC CMM configurations. The latest Sheffield CMMs are the Discovery CMM and the Endeavor CMM. Sheffield became part of Giddings & Lewis in the late '80's and are now known as Sheffield Measurement. Its CMM-Software called Direct Inspect and Measure Max, are one of the most well known and its CMM Programming Language, is Sheffield FLB. CAD Path Software provides the CMM Programming capabilities using CAD data. Federal Products built CMM's for a few years and in addition marketed the Renault CMM. Today Brown & Sharpe (BNS) are the largest Coordinate Measuring Machine builder; Brown and Sharpe have acquired Leitz, and DEA in recent years in an effort to consolidate the CMM Industry. Brown and Sharp produce CMM-Products including the Xcel CMM, Microval CMM, Reflex CMM, Mistral CMM, Scirocco CMM, Global CMM, Gage 2000 CMM in addition to other Metrology Tools. BrownandSharpe CMM Software includes MM4, Avail, Tutor for Windows and PC DMIS. Wilcox and Associates are the developers of PCDMIS and were acquired recently by Hexagon who is also the new owners of BrownandSharp the exclusive supplier of PC-DMIS. Other domestic CMM Builders include Helmel, Taurus, Elm Systems, Resource Engineering, Starrett and a few small others. Starret have recently stopped development of its own CMM Software and now market the Metrolog II product under the name Apogee and the QC5000 CMM Software from Metronics.

With the acquisition of Brown & Sharpe by Hexagon a new company was formed called Xygent who was the owner of Xact Measure a next generation CMM Software with full CAD capability with a special metrology focus on GD&T. This product represented a challenger to PC DMIS. XactMeasure has been taken off the market following the acquisition of Xygent by Hexagon Metrology.

Japan has several Coordinate Measuring Machines builders including the world's largest Metrology Equipment manufacturer Mitutoyo also known as MTI who export their products to a global market. The Mitutoyo Bright CMM, Bright Apex CMM are probably the best selling CMM globally. Tokyo Semitsu licensed their original CMM Technology from Ferranti, and Tokyo Boeki is a producer of Arm CMM's. Mitutoyo over the years used nomenclature for their CMM's like FN Series. BHN Series, BN Series with the BHN504, BHN706 and BHN715 being among the most popular. Mitutoyo CMMs and Mitutoyo CMM were built mechanically accurate until the launch of the Bright CMM.

Korea has one CMM Manufacturer called Dukin CMM Company. Their machines are not yet exported to the USA.
The CMM Frame comprises of a 3 Axis device with a CMM Probe mounted at the end of the Z Ram. The Touch Probe is a patented device with a dominant supplier Renishaw who supply the entire market CMM Probes market. Its TP6 and TP2 Touch-Probes are the most widely used by CMM Users. The TP-2 and TP-6 Probes have dominated the CMM market originally being mounted to the CMM with the PH6 adapter. The Motorized Probe Head first appeared in the early 80's providing an Articulated Probe Head in a Motorized Probe Head form and was called the PH9. To the PH-9 was later added a PH9A which had an Auto Joint to allow an Automatic Probe Changer to be added to a CMM to allow CMM Automation. Later the PH10M was launched allowing longer Extension Bars such as the PAA1, PAA2 and PAA3 to be added and allowing access to deep bores. The P.H.9 and PH-9A are both controlled by the PH9C Controller while the PH10 utilizes the PH10C Controller. The PH9 and PH9A were discontinued during 2000 and replaced by the PH10T or the PH10M. All Renishaw Measuring Probes and Manual Probes and Motorized Probe Heads are very reliable, however in the event of a failure a Repair by Exchange program called RBE is available to keep the CMM Measuring minimizing CMM Downtime.

The extensive range of Renishaw Probes include the Manual Indexing Heads whose nomenclature include MIP, MIH and MH20i and the additional Motorized Probe called PH50 although this Probe Head with its integral Measuring Probe was not very popular and has been discontinued. The tool used to measure on a CMM is actually the CMM Stylus, the CMM Styli comprises a steel or ceramic shank on which is mounted a synthetic Ruby Ball. The Styli or Stylus comes in various diameters to allow access to features under measurement. Renishaw Styli are extensive in range and also Specialized Styli can be designed and produced.

Recently Renishaw has entered the CMM Scanning Probe market with the SP600, which was originally developed for the Renishaw Cyclone Scanning CMM. The latest Renishaw Probes are the SP25 and the SP80; these probes are designed to turn a traditional Touch CMM into a Scanning CMM and will challenge Zeiss Scanning CMMs since the Renishaw solution has the added advantage of the PH10 dexterity.

A qualified CMM Technician should perform CMM Installation. In addition CMM Accuracy needs to be verified periodically; the typical CMM Calibration interval is 12 months. The debate of CMM-Calibration versus CMM-Verification rages on however what is important is the Accreditation of the CMM Service Group. A2LA Accreditation and L-A-B Accreditation are the most common CMM Accreditation Agencies in the U.S. for 3rd Party CMM Service Organization many of whom Calibrate CMM's to the B89 or CMMA Specifications. ICMM Service and CMM Repair can be performed by the CMM OEM or by an Independent CMM Service Company although CMM Breakdowns are fortunately not too frequent. International standards under the ISO umbrella have also recently been published including ISO 10360 CMM Accuracy Standard.
The vast majority of CMM Structure uses Air Bearings and as a consequence no wear to the bearing ways occur during CMM Use and as a consequence the CMM Mechanics do not wear out. A CMM Retrofit or CMM Upgrade has become common practice with a new CMM Controller and CMM-Software being applied. The application of a CMM-Retrofit or CMM-Upgrade to an existing CMM allows current technology to be added to an older frame saving considerable money over purchasing a New CMM. A Pre-Owned CMM or Used CMM have also become popular for the budget conscience, some electing to immediately upgrade their Used-CMM with new CMM-Software while other choose to use the original CMM Software. CMM Training is vital for a new CMM Operator to become proficient in CMM Programming and CMM Inspection, CMM Retrofits allows the CMM Operators to attend a CMM Training Class while finding training on older CMM Software Systems can prove more difficult. Several CMM Sales Companies such as Xspect Solutions offer Used-CMM's, Pre-Owned-CMM's and a range of New-CMM's giving the CMM Buyer a wide choice.

Many Inspection Companies have set up using CMM's for Contract Measurement and Contact Inspection. Inspection Service Companies such as Xspect Solutions measure customer parts and supply Inspection Data accredited through an Accreditation Organisation such as A2LA. CMM Inspection is now the most common means for the 3D Measurement of manufactured parts. In addition Inspection Houses perform Reverse Engineering, Digitizing and Surfacing for prototype parts. While CMMs are constrained for use in the Inspection Lab the Portable Arm CMM such as Romer and Faro allow for On-Site Inspection to be performed.

The Mobile CMM and Portable CMM device has made large inroads into the market in past years Faro have a competent CAM2 Software that integrates CAD Measurement to the Arm CMM while Romer (also known as Cimcore) use Delcam Software. Laser Trackers from Leica, API and SMX have eroded the manual Horizontal Arm CMM market.
Many other CMM Software companies developing Metrology Software have sprung up in the market. ATT who develop CAPPS and Edges was a pioneer of CAD Metrology; Entelegence Software Solutions is the name given to the development group developing Virtual DMIS, Metrologic of France develops the Metrolog II Product. All products are capable of Prismatic Geometrical Inspection as well as Curves & Surfaces. Many smaller companies exist; Metronics, QI, Silma, to name a few.

Contact Programming of CMMs is an additional CMM Service being performed by Xspect Solutions and other Contract CMM Service organizations. Creation of CMM Programs either using the Customer CMM or Off-Line CMM Programming using DMIS, CMM Programming Language or using CAD files. Several Off-Line CMM Programming Software Modules exist that allow for the importation of CAD models and the Virtual Programming of CMM's; available packages include Silma, Delmia, Deneb, Technomatix Robcad and Virtual DMIS. Contract CMM Programmers exist all over the country that specializes in particular CMM OEM Software.

Various CMM User Groups and CMM Chat Rooms have started to appear on the web. PC DMIS, PC-DMIS, Virtual-DMIS and MM4 all have active sites while CMM World and CMM Talk are the most active generic CMM Chat Rooms. CMM Users, CMM Operators and CMM Programmers have started becoming active in these new era CMM Forums. These CMM Activities also post CMM Positions and CMM Vacancies. CMMs For Sale and To Buy CMM Forums also exist.
Apart from the CMM training Classes operated by CMM Suppliers very little CMM Training is available and no National CMM Certification of CMM Operators has yet been established. Many Technical Colleges do run Metrology Classes and teach CMM Theory as part of their curriculum. CMM Tuition is available through the plethora of CMM Inspection and CMM Programming Companies and in many cases is the only CMM Source for the older CMM Systems. CMM Classes can be found on CMM Software, Coordinate Metrology Theory, DMIS Training for CMM Techs. Metrology 101 and CMM's 101 does not exist as yet.

The sale of New CMM Products is very competitive. CMM Performance is compared by CMM Buyers as part of the CMM Purchase process, most insist on a CMM Demonstration being performed on the customer part to test both CMM Ease of Use and CMM Functionality and CMM Performance Verification. Most CMM Buyers compare on average 5 CMM Companies or CMM Distributors.

In addition to the Contact Probe CMM the Video CMM has become popular; few CMM Vendors manufacture both Types of CMM. The Multi-Sensor CMM with a combination of touch and video has become very popular. Wegu, Mahr, and OGP are the principle suppliers.

Trade Journals cover both CMM New Products and CMM Application Stories on a regular basis and various CMM Buyer Guides are published annually to summarize the CMM Industry for potential CMM Buyers. In addition Quality Exhibition has become a CMM Showcase which attracts CMM Buyers, CMM Dealers, CMM Representatives, CMM OEM, CMM Users, CMM Programmers, CMM Operators, CMM Technicians, CMM Staff. In recent years the MAA or Metrology Automation Association has been formed and has recently published the first CMM Statistics for the US CMM Market.
A common CMM Programming Language has been created called DMIS (Dimensional Measurement Interface Standard) has started to eradicate CMM vendor specific programming languages. Native DMIS whereby DMIS is the CMM Language has come of age and software like Virtual DMIS take full advantage of this function. Other CMM Software products like PC DMIS use DMIS in a translated form.

Scanning Sensors using Laser Scanning technology have also started being integrated to the Coordinate Measuring Device. 3D Scanners, Metris, Perceptron, and Steinbichler all offer solutions. Wenzel have integrated most into their CMM Solutions.

The future of the CMM is difficult to predict many are suggesting that CMM Technology will become obsolete in the coming decade. CMM Products however continue to dominate the manufacturing inspection arena and unless a major technological innovation occurs the CMM will remain the focal point of the Quality Laboratory. The current trend is to move CMM Measurements to the production Floor and many new designs have come to market in recent years specifically aimed at this application. Flexible Gaging is the current trend and customers require these systems to be supplied as CMM Turnkey Projects. CMM have also gotten faster over the past decade although few customers need speed to be achieved at the expense of CMM Accuracy.

The current trend of customers is to select CMM Hardware independent of CMM Software. The Common CMM Driver project called I++ is a major initiative of CMM users to force CMM vendors to open CMM Controller architecture. The Renishaw UCC1 CMM Controller will also have a significant influence on the market as the latest Renishaw Scanning Sensors become more difficult to integrate.

With such a plethora of CMM manufacturers to choose from its doubtful that all will survive; in addition the industry consolidation currently occurring will reduce the supply base. There is no doubt that Mitutoyo, Brown and Sharpe, Wenzel and Zeiss will be major CMM suppliers over the long term; it extremely doubtful that many other will survive into the next decade.