Leatherman Tool Group, a manufacturer of multi-tools that can contain screwdrivers, knives, files, and many more in a single unit, was looking for new technology to improve its measurement capabilities.
The company uses measuring equipment ranging from micrometers all the way up to a coordinate measuring machine (CMM) to inspect parts at various stages of the process, including sampling of incoming lots, first-article inspection and production quality assurance.
The company uses IM series dimensional measurement vision systems from Keyence to quickly and reliably measure multiple features over a wide variety of parts. Users place a target part on the IM system’s stage and press the button. The system then automatically measures up to 99 points in a matter of seconds with repeatability of ±1 micron. The speed, flexibility and ease of programming and use of Keyence IM series systems make them suitable for inspection of Leatherman’s large variety of parts.
The Keyence systems replaced hard gauging that Leatherman used for many years to evaluate components for its multi-tools, eliminating cabinets full of hard fixtures built for specific parts. Getting a fixture designed and fabricated in the company’s machine shop could take weeks, but the Keyence systems enable Leatherman to get parts up and running with full inspection capability in a matter of minutes or hours. The systems also easily handle the company’s tolerances, which are important to proper assembly and function of its multi-tools.
“There’s a lot of interaction between the parts we make,” said David Knight, a Leatherman gauge technician. “Our parts all have to fit together in one tool, so tolerances are tight, most commonly ±0.001 in. and ±0.003 in. Hole position tolerances are especially important.”
Training Leatherman personnel to program and use the IM systems has also been fast and easy. Operators can be trained in just a few minutes, enabling them to check parts themselves rather than bringing them to the quality department for evaluation. The location of the company’s three IM systems near machining centers, stamping presses and other production equipment on the shop floor also facilitates first-article inspection, process control and troubleshooting.