American Machinist

Ballbar testing keeps machines in line. (Casebooks).

THE 325 MACHINE TOOLS THAT SMITH & NEPHEW Orthopedics uses to make medical implants must be flexible and, more importantly, able to produce precision parts to Six Sigma. To ensure they do, the Memphis company regularly tests machine performance with ballbar systems.

"Since implementing ballbar diagnosis," says Richard Grimes, company calibration specialist, "all the plant's CNC machines operate at true Six Sigma, or 0.0003% failure rate. Cost savings haven't been figured, but the result on our bottom line can be imagined," he says. "We now make better products and have less downtime since we catch problems before they happen."

With a Renishaw QC10 ballbar system, Smith & Nephew's tests typically take about 15 min. …

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