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Third Dimension, the leading supplier of precision feature measurement solutions, is today (21 April 2017) celebrating being named winner of the Queen’s Award for Innovation - the UK’s highest accolade for business success - for GapGun, its best-selling handheld, laser-based optical measurement device.

This year 176 winners were announced: 102 for International Trade; 57 for Innovation; 11 for Sustainable Development and 6 for Promoting Opportunity (through social mobility). The awards are made annually by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, and are only given for the highest levels of excellence demonstrated in each category. This is the second time Third Dimension has won the Queen’s Award, having won the International Trade category in 2015.  

The Bristol-based company also won the EEF Future Manufacturing regional award for Innovation this year and the EEF regional award for Outstanding Export category in 2015.

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Third Dimension, the leading supplier of precision metrology solutions, will be launching two new products at this year’s Control – the International trade fair for quality assurance.

The first is Vectro; a precision automated laser measurement system and the second, Inspect; a quick and easy-to-use quality inspection software tool.

Vectro automates the advanced capabilities of Third Dimension’s best-selling feature measurement system, GapGun Pro; used for quality control by the automotive, aerospace and energy industries worldwide. Vectro enables manufacturers to take a proactive approach to identify defects, correct persistent gap & flush issues or monitor geometric conditions and improve quality.

Integration of Vectro for automated quality checking of manufactured goods has a significant impact on reducing the headcount and rework costs, as well as the time and effort involved. Its versatile design makes it physically compatible for automated use, enabling integration either robotically or as a fixtured installation. Vectro is designed to be simpler, faster and deliver increased levels of accuracy with excellent returns on investment. Consistent measurement positioning makes for repeatable and reliable results which is ideal for high precision break sharp edge applications. With its tool changer compatibility and using the same VChange sensors as GapGun Pro, Vectro can perform a diverse range of measurements as well as fast throughput of production checks.

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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.”