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Third Dimension is celebrating its success as regional winner of the EEF Future Manufacturing Innovation award for its marketing leading product, the GapGun Pro.

GapGun Pro is a handheld laser-based precision measurement instrument used to control production quality in automotive, aerospace turbine and energy industries worldwide. It builds on all the key capabilities of the original GapGun but with greatly increased speed, ease of use, improved portability and a more rugged design.

Last Wednesday (9th November), representatives of the company attended a regional reception lunch at @Bristol to recognise this prestigious achievement and collect their award.

Tim Monks, CEO at Third Dimension, said: “Innovation is what makes our business tick. I’m lucky enough to work with an extremely talented bunch of people who are able to turn innovative ideas into commercial success.  GapGun Pro was a whole company effort with staff from sales and marketing, finance, research and development, support and production all providing input and feedback at each development stage. This award recognises all their hard work, as well as the loyalty of our much valued customers who trust us time and time again to deliver cutting edge precision measurement solutions which help save them time, money and resources.”

Tuesday 24th May 2016; Trials by Leonardo Helicopters of the GapGun measurement system from Third Dimension have reduced MRO inspection times for interior and exterior composite panels by almost 90 per cent, in early results. The military helicopter manufacturer is conducting the trial on servicing of AgustaWestland Merlin helicopters at the Royal Navy’s base at Culdrose.

GapGun, the hand-held laser measurement tool, enables a quick, accurate and detailed profile measurement to be taken of the depth of scratches on helicopter panels and aircraft gearbox components. This enables operators to establish whether the depth of the scratches are within the 0.15mm limit, and therefore determine whether the parts need to be repaired or replaced.

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Using GapGun, results are consistent and comparable over time. Measurements are repeatable meaning they are consistent no matter who conducts the investigation whereas previously results differed from one operator to the next. Since introducing the GapGun, the time it takes to inspect individual panels has been reduced extensively.

While quantifying the total man-hours and money the GapGun saves per aircraft is still being measured, a process which could take up to eight months, Keith Masterton, AgustaWestland’s Merlin Depth Business Manager, said: “We recently did a check on a panel and, whereas the previous manual process using a depth gauge took two-and-a-half hours, the GapGun measures it in just 20 minutes.”

“It gives us a very quick indication as to whether the damaged area, or perceived damaged area, is within acceptable limits.”

The focus of Award winning Third Dimension at Control this year (Stuttgart, 26-29 April), will be how to effectively integrate inspection into the manufacturing process and how GapGun has the ability to facillitate this.

Third Dimension’s philosophy is that measurement systems are all about helping turn data into information, and then into action to improve production lines in real time. The concept can be applied to all manufacturing industries, especially the automotive, aerospace and energy sectors. If the data collected can be used more dynamically to influence a real-time outcome on the production line, mistakes can be corrected immediately. By doing this, manufacturers could ensure components are the correct size and fit together accurately without compromising the quality, cost or time to complete the build. That’s a key challenge for the engineering world.

So next time you’re measuring that gap, flush, radius, edge break, burr, scratch, or angle, ask yourself if you’re really doing something useful with the data you’re collecting. 

Currently being rolled out in a number of Third Dimension’s high profile customer production sites is GapGun Link, an integrated software system. This enables third party applications to create and download check plans and upload and extract results without the need for operators to use GapGun specific SPC3D software. Manufacturers can generate management information reports instantaneously so that action can be taken quickly, minimising errors and down-time on the production line.

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