Automated metrology machines—which measure whether components are manufactured correctly—often require a high level of customization and integration. But that can lead to long development times and demanding support requirements, making it difficult for metrology systems companies to scale their business.
3D Infotech standardized its automated product line on UR cobots, and was able to quickly bring that line to market along with related UR+ products. Despite the drop in manufacturing CapEx purchases due to COVID-19, 3D Infotech saw “phenomenal” revenue growth of 230% through 2021. Rohit Khanna, president and CEO, credits his company’s metrology expertise and software along with the UR cobots’ ease of programming, safety and reliability, and worldwide technical support for the new products’ success. Khanna adds, “If we provide any component in our solution that is not performing up to the expectation of our customer, that makes us look bad. In the case of cobots from UR, they’ve actually helped us elevate our brand status.”
Rohit Khanna, 3D Infotech president and CEO
If we provide any component in our solution that is not performing up to the expectation of our customer, that makes us look bad. In the case of cobots from UR, they’ve actually helped us elevate our brand status.
3D Infotech had developed deep domain knowledge through custom metrology automation projects, but the approach wasn’t sustainable long-term. After extensively researching the market, 3D Infotech standardized its automated metrology product line on UR cobots. “When we looked at lots of different options for robotics, we almost always had to make some kind of compromise in functionality that we would deliver to the user, because we weren’t able to get the full extent of the technical platform that we needed,” says Khanna. UR provided the ideal mix of functionality, ease of programming and use, safety, and all-around support that 3D Infotech needed.
3D Infotech’s Universal Metrology Automation (UMA) line is based on its Streamline quality assurance software and a platform of flexible, intuitive, and collaborative UR cobots. With the system, users can simply pick a part and a preset program that has the scan coverage of the entire part, and then press play and walk away. By standardizing on the family of UR cobots, all of which share the same underlying technology platform and APIs, 3D Infotech can easily deploy systems for a wide range of applications.
UR provided a level of robotic capabilities and technical support that 3D Infotech wasn’t able to find from other manufacturers. With this support, the company first became a UR certified systems integrator (CSI) deploying UR cobot-based systems for customers. Later, the company became a UR+ developer, creating its own products for the UR+ ecosystem of third-party hardware, software, and application kits that are certified to integrate seamlessly with UR cobots.
The flexibility of the UR cobots means that 3D Infotech customers don’t have to invest in a dedicated metrology machine that can only inspect one type of part, or perform one type of operation. The versatile robot can be easily programmed to position different kinds of sensors around a wide range of part geometries. And the UR robots’ IP54 rating allows them to be reliably deployed in a factory environment. “When I look at other companies in the collaborative robot space, they’re not as mature as UR has become in terms of service centers,” says Khanna. “That’s really critical to all our customers.”
The stringent and variable requirements of inspection meant that 3D Infotech needed an automation platform that provided both robustness and flexibility. The robots need to maneuver a wide range of sophisticated sensor technologies safely and accurately. Michael Crowley, 3D Infotech director of automation, says, “The collaborative nature of the UR robots allows us to put these expensive pieces of technology on the end of the arm, and have that confidence that the robot isn’t going to run into something and damage the end-of-arm tool. That peace of mind that we get—I don’t even have words for it. It’s incredible.”
The ease of development with the UR cobots was key to 3D Infotech’s fast success. “The programming documentation, as far as integrating with the APIs, was very comprehensive,” Crowley says. “But what I really like about the UR platform is that it’s so intuitive we could pick up the teach pendant and understand what we were doing with it without having to read the documentation.” The initial integration of core functionality of the UR robot into the 3D Infotech product took only about two weeks.
Michael Crowley, 3D Infotech director of automation
What I really like about the UR platform is that it’s so intuitive we could pick up the teach pendant and understand what we were doing with it without having to read the documentation.
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