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What is a CMM and what are the benefits of using one?

coordinate measuring machines

A CMM or coordinate measuring machine is a device used to precisely measure and inspect the geometrical characteristics of an object, enabling manufacturers to accurately check that both prototype and production components and assemblies conform to the intended design.

The very first CMM was devised in the 1950s to precisely measure military grade components and since then CMMs have continued to develop. A modern-day CMM machine is comprised of three core components, being the machine body that includes an X, Y and Z axis, the measuring probe and a data collection system.

Types of CMM machine

There are several types of CMM available from the more traditional granite bed variants used within controlled environment labs to the in-situ CMMs which during the past decade have allowed measurement to be conducted directly within the manufacturing environment. More recently, fully portable CMMs have been developed to give manufacturers even more options.

Choosing the right CMM for your business is not as easy as deciding if you need to bring your parts to the machine, or the machine to your parts. There are many variants and options within each type and the very real risk that you end up either overspending on a CMM that exceeds your requirements – or worse one that doesn’t fulfil them. For these reasons, it’s always worth seeking professional advice before investing.

Here at Status, our philosophy is to provide a complete business solution, rather than just a CMM machine. Our full-service capability is better suited to longer-term partnerships built on trust. For this reason, we are always focused on giving customers totally impartial expert advice when it comes to the initial machine investment. We’re here to guide you around the pitfalls and help you choose the very best value CMM – one that delivers exactly what you need today and is as future-proof as possible.

Benefits of choosing the right CMM


Protection against costs and losses during production

Measurement is sometimes mistakenly viewed as a non-productive process which slows production and puts downward pressure on operating margins. The reality is actually the reverse – the right measurement solution can actually save money and boost profits.

If you are a manufacturer working in a demanding field (such as aerospace or automotive for example) and need to ensure components meet stringent quality requirements, just one slightly off measurement can jeopardise your entire production process and lead to orders being rejected for being out of specification.

The measurement accuracy and consistency achieved by a CMM far outweighs what’s possible with manual measurement methods, due to both the technology of the machine itself and the reduction in human input (and therefore reduction in human error).

Increased productivity

Choosing the right CMM machine can also make a dramatic difference to your productivity. We’ve already touched on the many portable and in-situ CMM solutions which (whilst not suitable for all businesses) effectively eliminate the time/cost associated with taking parts away from the shop floor. However, there are also programming solutions which can be configured within the software running on the CMMs controller which can dramatically speed up measurement. Status recently achieved a 10 fold speed increase in one customer’s measurement process – just by upgrading them to the latest software and training their machine operators on a new function.

Increased stability

With the right periodic service and calibration, CMMs are highly reliable and consistent pieces of equipment, which very rarely go wrong – a true ‘fit and forget’ addition and upgrade to your manufacturing line.

CMMs also have impressive lifespans and can last for decades – meaning any initial investment costs are amortised over a much longer period than lots of manufacturing equipment. With Status, lifespan can be extended even further by retrofitting and upgrading.

New vs refurbished

The decision to buy either a new or refurbished CMM essentially depends on both your business needs – and budget. However, whilst most refurbished CMMs on the market are available at a lower cost than new, performance is nearly always compromised.

Status is often credited as inventing the refurbished machine market, and our expertise in refurbishing, upgrading and retrofitting is second to none. Because of this a Status approved used CMM can often match – or sometimes even exceed – the performance of a brand new machine.

The difference between upgrading and retrofitting

Retrofitting brings an old machine up to date and gives it a new lease of life. The process involves replacing and upgrading certain components to improve a CMMs accuracy and productivity, whilst leaving the core structural unit intact.

Retrofits are undertaken for a multitude of different reasons – often to increase the capabilities of an older machine and allow the customer to take on more (or different) work. For some customers, it’s about extending the working life of an old machine until funds are available to invest in new equipment. Sometimes it takes an initial mechanical fault for the customer to discover that retrofitting can not only fix the problem but completely transform their machine.

Upgrades are typically more targeted and proactive responses to changed business requirements. Upgrades are normally more selective in what they replace than a retrofitting service.

View our latest refurbished CMM stock list here.

Smarter software choices

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Choosing the right CMM software makes a massive difference to the bottom line performance of your CMM. Get it wrong and you will not have a fully optimised measurement solution.

Status is renowned for its knowledge and expertise of CMM software, delivering software programming training to CMM operators at both its dedicated training centre, and out in the field. Of the many options on the market today, Status recommends the world’s leading CMM software ‘PC-DMIS’. Both highly scalable and flexible, PC-DMIS’ powerful capabilities allow users to measure everything from simple prismatic parts to the most complex aerospace and automotive components – and everything in between.

Learn more about PC-DMIS and discover its unique ‘game-changing’ feature which is currently helping Status customers achieve huge programme time reductions resulting in additional revenue and bottom-line profit:

Time to take a closer look at Status:

If you’re looking for a metrology partner who will deliver a complete business solution, rather than just a new CMM machine, then it’s time you took a closer look at Status.

Deal with Status and you’re dealing directly with an expert team who are small enough to deliver a flexible, agile and personal service; but with the back up of the world’s biggest network thanks to our partnership with Hexagon MI.

Get in touch with us today on 0115 939 2228 or email Alternatively, fill out our online enquiry form here.

Download CMM Buyer's Guide

If you are considering buying a CMM machine then this guide gives you everything you need to know. Download