New Berlin Plastics has made some important investments to upgrade its Quality Lab. Thanks to some new cutting-edge measurement systems and a team of skilled employees, the company has increased throughput and added capabilities to better support the production of injection-molded parts.
During the launch of a new part, the quality team measures multiple samples to confirm that the process produces dimensionally correct parts. If non-conformances are detected, the root cause is corrected before the part goes into full production.
Throughout the life of that program, parts are sampled systematically during production. These samples are inspected and key features verified per the control plan during each production run. The quality team also uses this measurement data to identify trends and determine when preventive action needs to be employed.
“For every customer, we apply Advanced Product Quality Planning (APQP), which is a proven process development method used in the automotive industry. It’s focused on reducing the risk of non-conformance,” explains Quality Engineer Michael Geitner. “We’ve made the elimination of risk a standard practice for every part we make. The data we collect allows us to proactively address a potential problem early instead of waiting for it to affect our customer. We’re helping them avoid potential supply chain risks.”
Recently, New Berlin Plastics added a new Hexagon laser scanner with a seven-axis absolute arm, a Zeiss Contura CMM unit with nine sensors, and a Micro-Vu Vertex automated precision measurement system. Each new machine provides additional capabilities to help more customers with a wider range of needs.
“Customers expect a high level of quality, and we deliver that,” says Business Development Manager Karl Held. “By investing in this new measurement equipment, our team is better able to support our customers’ needs and expectations, reinforcing our goal of being a low risk and lower total-cost-of-ownership supplier.”
The new Hexagon absolute arm uses a laser to scan parts and compare them to a 3D model, which ensures the part is dimensionally correct. This system provides high-performance, non-contact measurement using 3D laser scanning.
“Previously, our laser scanning was outsourced, which would take days to get results back,” Held explains. “We purchased the new Hexagon machine so our quality team can perform laser scans internally, which takes just minutes. We’re saving customers valuable time and cost by further developing our internal measurement capabilities.”
New Berlin Plastics was able to reduce cost and lead time for one customer when helping them overcome warp occurring in a part. By trialing eight different variations of their process, then scanning each part to compare against the customer’s 3D model, New Berlin Plastics was able to identify the most optimized process within one day.
Replacing an older CMM, the new Zeiss system has contact scanning capabilities, which uses a touch probe to scan the entire surface of a part. Compared to a traditional touchpoint system that measures only selected points individually, the Zeiss provides more data for a more accurate part profile. The new machine also has a larger capacity table to run larger parts.
“Plus, OEMs that use Zeiss equipment in their facilities can provide files directly to us so we can correlate measurements quickly, providing an even faster approval process,” Geitner adds.
The new Micro-Vu Vertex inspection system, which replaces an older optical comparator machine, features a high-resolution digital camera and programmable optical and digital zoom.
Now the quality team can put multiple parts into the inspection system at once and automatically receive measurements in seconds. This machine is especially helpful when scanning smaller parts and those that contain metal inserts. Programs are set up in the system so that quality auditors can test parts on the Vertex any time by simply choosing the right program.
The quality team’s QA auditors have gone through extensive training on each machine to ensure they are fluent and efficient at working with all their features and capabilities. After all, new machines are only effective if their operators are highly trained.
“With these investments in machines and training, we’ve significantly increased the efficiency of our quality lab,” Geitner says. “OEMs are under pressure to get their projects completed on time, so any time we can save them makes us a more valuable supplier.”