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Vision Engineering Apprentices

Vision Engineering’s apprentices make the grade

By | News

At Vision Engineering Ltd, we pride ourselves on training staff and developing their skills. We are therefore delighted to announce that Mark Thornton has recently completed his three year EAL Level 3 Extended Diploma in Mechanical Manufacturing Engineering – CNC Machining.

Mark Thornton Vision Engineering apprentice

For Mark, this involved two years of day release to Kingston College where he gained an Edexcel BTEC Level 3 Subsidiary Diploma in Manufacturing Engineering (covering subjects such as Health and Safety in the Engineering Workplace, Mathematics for Engineering Technicians, Mechanical Principles and Applications, Mechanical Measurement and Inspection Techniques, Engineering Secondary and Finishing Techniques, Fabrication Processes and Technology and Setting and Proving Secondary Processing and Machines) and the completion of Level 3 NVQ CNC Machining modules through in-house training. The third year of Mark’s training has seen him become a competent CNC Machinist Operator who has now secured a permanent contract with us here at our UK headquarters, where he will continue to develop his skills and experience within a very busy Machine Shop.

Mark is the third Vision Engineering apprentice to complete a CNC Machining apprenticeship with us – previously Adam White and Adam Hitchcock finished their apprenticeships in 2016. Both are still working at Vision Engineering – Adam White is now trained to operate manual machines, CNC lathes, our Mazak Machining Centre and is now developing his programming skills on this, having successfully completed a programming course at Yamazaki Mazak UK in Worcester earlier this year.

Adam Hitchcock, after four years Machine shop experience, chose to follow a career path that has taken him into technical sales and is now working on business development with the UK Sales team.

Offering apprenticeships in Vision Engineering’s Machine Shop is part of the ongoing strategy to train and develop skilled staff to fill key areas within the company with the next generation of high class engineers, and we have recently been joined by Jacob Thomas, the newest machinist trainee.

Vision Engineering Apprentices

Left to right: Jacob Thomas, Adam White, Mark Thornton and Adam Hitchcock

Commenting on the achievement of the apprentices, Mark Curtis, Managing Director of Vision Engineering Ltd said:

Building on Vision Engineering’s sixty years of optical inspection and metrology expertise, the apprenticeship programme is a key component in developing the next generation of high quality engineers to take the company forwards.”

Vision Engineering Ltd is a global leading-edge manufacturer of patented ergonomic stereo microscopes, digital microscopes and non-contact measuring systems.

Vision Engineering Ltd 60 year anniversary logo

Vision Engineering Celebrates 60 years with Clear Focus on the Future

By | News

Vision Engineering reaches a milestone this month, celebrating 60 years of manufacturing inspection and non-contact measurement systems. The privately held company was founded in the UK in 1958 by Rob Freeman, a tool-maker with the Jaguar racing team. While at Jaguar, Rob developed a borescope for inspecting internal race engine parts without the need for disassembly. Rob’s engineering background and drive to design solutions, set the foundation for Vision Engineering’s success.

Renown for inventing Mantis, the world’s first eyepiece-less stereo microscope, Vision Engineering holds several world patents for the optical technology used in their inspection and metrology systems. Mantis was launched nearly 25 years ago as a solution to address the issues microscope operators face. The Mantis design allows users to retain a natural viewing posture when using a microscope so they are more comfortable and able to work for longer periods of time without neck strain or eye fatigue. Mantis is used across the world in electronics, medical device, packaging, automotive and aerospace industries and for any application requiring inspection and rework.

The importance of ergonomics in microscopy was pioneered by Vision Engineering and Mantis. Mantis has evolved significantly since its original design and Vision Engineering is currently manufacturing the 4th generation Mantis. In 1994 Mantis manufacturing moved to Connecticut, USA, where it is still manufactured today.

The company attributes their success to innovation and developing new technology to improve quality in manufacturing, by inspection and measurement. Mark Curtis, Managing Director, Vision Engineering explains,

Significant R&D investment in optical and digital technology continues with recent patented technological breakthroughs heralding the next step in innovation and market penetration for Vision Engineering”

Vision Engineering has come a long way since 1958, from its humble beginnings in a workshop with a dozen employees. In June 2017 an 84,000ft2 Global Headquarters opened in Send, Woking, United Kingdom. Vision Engineering now employs more than 220 people worldwide.

Vision Luxo range of industrial illuminated bench magnifiers

Vision Luxo industrial bench magnifier range

By | Videos

Vision Engineering’s collaboration with Luxo Corporation, provides a range of illuminated industrial bench magnifiers offering outstanding performance for a range of manufacturing, assembly and inspection tasks.

These quality bench magnifiers provide perfect balance and flexibility for efficient working, always ensuring they stay in the right position without drifting.

Find out more

Camβ (CamBeta) - a new digital inspection magnifier for portable inspection and documentation

Camβ (CamBeta) – digital handheld magnifier

By | Videos

Camβ (CamBeta) – a new digital inspection magnifier for portable inspection and documentation.
This new handheld inspection device is suitable for a wide range of applications and provides magnification up to 20x, stores up to 20,000 images and uses grids and cursors for X & Y dimensioning, simply where you want, when you want..

Find out more

360 degree rotating viewer for Lynx EVO and EVO Cam II microscopes

360° rotating viewer for Lynx EVO and EVO Cam II microscopes

By | Videos

360° rotating viewer for Lynx EVO stereo microscopes and EVO Cam II digital microscopes.

Find hidden details and features in many applications. The ultimate microscope inspection accessory permits a 360° full rotating view of an object (at an angle of 34 °).

The 360° rotation provides enhanced observation for many applications, including electronics (PCB solder joints, holes, pillars and thread forms), mechanical, medical and plastics components. The operator can easily switch from a 360° rotating view to a conventional direct view for ultimate comfort.

Introducing Swift PRO non-contact measuring systems

Introducing Swift PRO non-contact measuring systems

By | Videos

A simple 2 minute introduction to Swift PRO non-contact measuring systems in action.

Swift PRO is the only measuring system that combines video edge detection with an ergonomic measuring microscope so you can measure both routine and difficult to view features easily with the same system.

Video measurement is ideal for measuring components with clearly defined edges. Optical measurement is ideal for features difficult to view, such as clear or coloured plastics or annular features on metal parts

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TVM field of view measurement system

New TVM instant FOV measurement system launched at Control, Stuttgart

By | News

A new fast and flexible field of view measurement for quality assurance

Vision Engineering will showcase its new TVM Field of View (FOV) video measurement systems at Control, Stuttgart Exhibition Centre [Hall 7 Booth 7400]. The system combines time-saving instant field of view measurements with versatile measurement tools that cater to the needs of operators on the shop floor.

The system’s small footprint saves space in the workshop or laboratory, while TVM’s exceptional ease of use eliminates operator errors and significantly reduces time, providing a valuable asset for a wide range of quality assurance applications, such as instant go/no go assessments.

TVM20 and TVM35 video measurement systems

As with other measurement and inspection systems from Vision Engineering, the TVM systems can be configured to suit specific applications. The fixed stage FOV system enables instant, accurate measurements of small components, while the addition of a manually-controlled stage extends measurement for larger components up to 200mm x 100mm.

The combination of a flat field telecentric lens and collimated sub-stage lighting facilitates TVM’s measurement of components of any shape or form, including turned parts, pressed metal components, injection moulded plastics, tubes and cables.

TVM series comprises of two systems, TVM20 and TVM35, with field of view (FOV) sizes of 20mm and 35mm respectively. Both systems are designed to meet rigorous quality assurance applications in electronics, automotive, aerospace, medical and plastics manufacturing: offering rapid, accurate non-contact measurement. Components can be instantly measured within the field of view, with no need to adjust the focus or change the position of the subject under inspection.

TVM’s comprehensive, user-friendly software supports a broad range of applications delivering the precision and clarity that would be expected from expensive high end video measurement systems. The rich suite of features includes simple data import/export, image stitching and reporting facilities.

Built on Vision Engineering’s sixty years of optical inspection and metrology expertise, the TVM 20 and TVM 35 are precision-manufactured in the UK at Vision Engineering’s new global headquarters.

Commenting on the launch of the TVM series, Mark Curtis, Managing Director of Vision Engineering said:

We’ve listened to our customers and combined the best parts of our existing metrology range into a compact system that really offers fast and flexible measurement to meet the needs of QC/QA requirements. This marks a new era of high accuracy field of view measuring.”

EVO Cam II digital microscope in the workshop

EVO Cam II, next generation of high definition digital microscope

By | News

The next generation of the extremely popular EVO Cam digital microscope has been launched. Excellent image quality, intuitive operation and a host of new features are available at your fingertips with Vision Engineering’s new EVO Cam II.

Ideally suited for close inspection and recording of high resolution images the next-generation EVO Cam II benefits from the addition of user customisable overlays, on-board measurement and Wi-Fi image transfer. All supported by a 30:1 optical zoom and a maximum magnification of up to 3,600x.

EVO Cam II replaces the original EVO Cam which is already used for inspection of electronics, medical devices, precision engineering, life sciences and much more.

EVO Cam II digital microscope inspecting metal tools

High definition images can be captured and stored directly to a USB memory stick. When connected to a PC, images and video can be easily captured, stored and shared. A Wi-Fi dongle even allows direct sharing with PCs, laptops, tablet computers and smartphones.

Simple on-screen measurement can be performed with the aid of virtual callipers and scalable grids. Live images can also be compared to user customisable overlays, increasing efficiency of use.

A completely new graphical user interface and intuitive controls with 10 presets, allow for rapid swapping out of subjects under inspection, making EVO Cam II ideal for multiple users in high speed production environments. A remote control option is available to maximise the ergonomic operation of the microscope when used over prolonged periods.

EVO Cam II features a powerful LED ring light and sub-stage lighting for viewing translucent samples. A UV ring light accessory is also available for electronic and other specific applications. High contrast subjects, such as reflective metals used in electronics and automotive manufacturing can be viewed in more detail using EVO Cam II’s Wide Dynamic Range (WDR) mode.

For additional clarity, EVO Cam II is launched along with a new range of objective lenses to deliver pin sharp images, high in detail and contrast. Vision Engineering’s unique 360° rotating viewer is ideal for hard to handle subjects, delivering direct and 34° angled views, which can be rotated 360° around the point of interest, allowing inspection of the sides and base of samples.

Mark Curtis, Managing Director, Vision Engineering said:

We are excited to complement our Mantis and Lynx EVO eyepiece-less stereo microscope range with the EVO Cam II. This new digital microscope offers exceptional image quality for inspection, research and manipulation, and can be utilised for thousands of inspection tasks.”

CamBeta handheld digital magnifier

Inspect where you want with new Camβ digital magnifier

By | News

Introducing Camβ (CamBeta) – a new digital inspection magnifier for portable inspection and documentation. The new magnifier is a handheld inspection device, suitable for a wide range of applications. Camβ provides magnification up to 20x, stores up to 20,000 images and uses grids and cursors for X & Y dimensioning, simply where you want, when you want.

CamBeta handheld digital magnifier for machine inspection

With a high resolution colour display, easy button operation and image capture/download capability, Camβ is ideal for roaming inspection tasks, documenting faults and inspecting large or immobile subjects. Camβ has been equipped with a dual LED illumination, with 4 settings; high contrast imaging and 30 frames video capture capabilities. A live-view video output via micro HDMI allows for the display of images on a larger screen suitable for training purposes.

Camβ offers a convenient way of meeting critical inspection and documentation requirements. The simple design of the Camβ helps to optimise the inspection process, as it requires minimal training to ensure all users can adequately perform their job. When time is of the essence the portable design of the Camβ also helps to speed up the process of inspection and decision making for operators.

The Camβ is well suited in production environments where company policy disallows the use of mobile phones. Its lightweight and ergonomic design is superior to that of a smartphone, with one-handed operation making the Camβ easy to manage and manipulate. The handle of the Camβ also provides a secure grip allowing it to be used with either a left or right hand, to suit.

Camβ is ideal for a number of applications such as electronics, mechanical, automotive, watchmaking, plastics engineering, medical and ultimately wherever fast digital documentation is needed – in one step, using one tool!

Spindle containing air bearing for inspection

Bearing up… the importance of optical inspection of air bearings

By | Case Studies

Air Bearings Ltd (ABL), one of the world’s leading suppliers of air bearing solutions, utilises Vision Engineering’s Lynx eyepieceless stereo zoom microscope for the critical inspection of machined component parts. The component parts form a spindle with rotational speeds up to a staggering 350,000 RPM, and therefore inspection of the component parts is critical in maintaining optimum performance at this impressive speed of rotation. ABL, established in 1993, is dedicated to the design, manufacture and service of high quality, competitively priced air bearing spindles for a variety of specialist applications. A Hitachi company, ABL are dedicated to providing spindles for specific industrial applications including precision grinding, non-ferrous turning and milling and PCB drilling.

Quality control fundamental to production

Integration of quality control throughout the manufacturing process is fundamental to production, enabling ABL to achieve high levels of performance from their products. With a range of spindles operating between 80,000 and an incredible 350,000 rpm, it’s imperative that critical components are machined with sub micron accuracy. Nearly all components are manufactured in house with only a small amount of work outsourced to sub contractors including specialist processes such as heat treatment, anodising and shaft coppering.

Fig. 1.0 shows a typical spindle manufactured by ABL

A priority for ABL is that all machined components are meticulously inspected for abnormalities which could affect the spindle once it is fully assembled. With such extreme rotational speeds, all components, and especially the air bearings, need to be inspected for accuracy. The rotating shaft, the main component in the spindle, is inspected under the Lynx microscope. Running along the length of the steel shaft are grooves where the copper is inserted. The copper forms one half of the electric motor that drives the shaft and under extreme speeds it is imperative that it adheres to the steel of the shaft. If the copper lifts it leads to instant and catastrophic failure. After the shaft has been milled but before the copper is inlayed it is meticulously inspected under the Lynx. Adrian Farwell, who is responsible for quality at ABL, explains the importance of optical inspection:

“Sometimes it can be difficult to assign meaningful tolerances to components and so assessing the part by optical inspection is essential and a key part of our rigorous quality procedures”

The milling is optically inspected for burrs, eroded edges and scores on the surface of the metal. This is vital in ensuring the copper is easily and precisely deposited onto the shaft. If the surface finish is not clean and precise the copper will not adhere to the shaft. Components manufactured at ABL which are critical to the function of the spindle are subject to 100% inspection. Other components with lower fuction emphasis are batch inspected.

Lynx revolutionary optical inspection provides the solution

Optical inspection procedures are conducted under the optics of the Lynx stereo zoom microscope.

The Lynx is a revolutionary zoom stereo microscope which removes the need for restrictive microscope eyepieces by employing patented eyepieceless technology. The result is an ergonomic microscope delivering optimum operator comfort through fatigue free viewing, increasing productivity and accuracy. Adrian continues to explain the advantage of using a Lynx as a stereo inspection tool.

“Firstly, the eyepieceless viewer is what initially impressed us because it is much less tiring on the eyes than our previous stereo microscope. However, when we saw the performance of the oblique and direct viewer, the decision was made. We find the Lynx with the oblique and direct viewer a superb inspection tool and it has become invaluable to us.”

The oblique and direct viewer is an optical accessory enabling engineers to view components from a 34º angle which can then rotate a full 360º to provide easy inspection all the way around a component, allowing operators to switch between direct and oblique views. The Lynx microscope also has a camera attachment supporting the quality process where questionable differences can be captured digitally, circulated electronically and documented as part of the continuous improvement for quality.

Inspection of air bearing jets

Another critical component within ABL spindles are the air bearings themselves, each containing jets that control the film of air between the shaft and the bearing. Amongst many other components, the fitted jets are crucial to the functionality of the spindle and are inspected 100%. The air passing through the jets provides a cushioning between the shaft and the bearing allowing for free rotation. Although some of the jets are only microns in aperture they are inspected under the Lynx for the quality of the machining and to ensure that the chamfers are clean with no ragged edges.

Also the pocket size, form and depth have to be perfect as any irregularity could cause problems with the air flow resulting in the shaft colliding with other components in the spindle.

“The oblique viewer gives you that extra dimension and there is no other way we can do it. We get so much use out of the Lynx for our applications. It is invaluable and an absolute godsend” says Adrian.

Quality control provides absolute precision and performance

ABL have been manufacturing for many years and the integration of quality control throughout their design, manufacturing, assembly and test processes has enabled ABL to achieve levels of performance that are admired by their customers and the envy of their competitors. ABL’s facility is very well equipped with the very latest equipment. Modern technology combined with tried and tested traditional methods and a skilled workforce ensure that ABL produces components manufactured with absolute precision.

With expansion at a rapid rate, ABL are leading the way in utilising air bearing technology. With the demand for smaller, faster spindles constantly increasing, ABL can develop their business yet continue to provide customers with products skilfully manufactured to high precision.