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Non-contact laser measurement devices are saving manufacturers time, money and resources by increasing efficiencies in quality checks. 

For manufacturers in the 21st century, ensuring the products they produce are of the right quality is paramount. As customers we demand quality products that are competitively priced, longer lasting and more fuel efficient. We expect our cars to be water and wind tight thanks to correctly fitted panels, doors and seals. Similarly, when we fly, we expect a smooth touch down thanks to precisely fitted landing gear. 

Add to this regulators requiring improvements in safety and reductions in both noise, waste and carbon emissions and a picture soon emerges of a manufacturing world that is constantly evolving. The pressure is on to make ever more complex products with tighter tolerances in a cost effective and reliable way whilst always ensuring quality is at the forefront.

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Sound familiar? For any manufacturer struggling with these demands, non-contact hand held and automated laser measurement devices can play a big part in helping achieve this. Optical metrology is the principle behind non-contact laser measurement devices that determines the dimensional profile of a part, by taking a series of pictures of its surface.

The key to profile measurement is to reliably report the surface in a lot of detail. Laser triangulation technology is used to collect measurements by projecting a laser stripe across the surface of a part to determine the measureable feature. Simultaneously, an integrated camera system takes images of this static laser stripe. As the angle is known between the camera and the laser projection, an algorithm can be written to calculate the dimensions of the surface over which the laser falls and the camera sees. This measured data is then output to point cloud format to generate a digital copy of the surface.

For the last 10 years, Third Dimension has been working with the UK Atomic Energy Authority’s (UKAEA) RACE (Remote Applications in Challenging Environments) department to facilitate the development of nuclear fusion by speeding up the MRO (maintenance, repair and overhaul) process of the world’s largest experimental reactor.

As the world's largest nuclear fusion power experiment, the JET (Joint European Torus) nuclear fusion tokamak1 is designed to harness energy with the intention of furthering the development of fusion power generation. Fusion is based on the same principle that powers our Sun and stars and is a key stepping stone towards a carbon free world in energy production.

Operated by the UKAEA at Culham Science Centre near Oxford for the EUROfusion consortium of European fusion scientists, the project started in 1983 and is at the absolute cutting edge of scientific development.

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Third Dimension supports quality control and MRO of JET with their advanced profile measurement systems. When Third Dimension originally started working with UKAEA, a third generation GapGun was installed onsite and used for inspection, in and out of the fusion rig, for many years. However, the GapGun, designed for handheld measurements, was upgraded last year to the recently launched Vectro system.

Vectro is not only based on the latest 5th generation GapGun Pro technology, but more importantly has been specifically designed to be installed as an integrated robotic inspection tool. Already, Vectro has proven to deliver significant improvements to the speed and productivity of maintenance procedures for UKAEA. This has been achieved with the Authority’s MASCOT robot.

Third Dimension - a world leading developer and manufacturer of non-contact, precision profile measurement solutions - has announced record turnover, up 25% last year, with a 20% increase in staff. This expansion will continue in 2018, with more staff members joining the 1st and 2nd Line Support team, to provide great customer care, either by desktop support or at the customer facilities.

GapGun – its best-selling handheld laser measurement system – is now sold in 25 countries worldwide. This is thanks in no small part to the company’s global distributor network. Last year Third appointed new distributors in the UK, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, and South Korea. It is seeking to expand this network in Northern Europe and other key international markets

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Third Dimension has strategically chosen to focus on key vertical markets, such as aerospace, automotive, energy and general manufacturing. It is supporting a buoyant metrology market with opportunity for growth in 2018 as manufacturers are continuously seeking to improve production and quality control processes. Third Dimension is perfectly aligned to support improved quality control through reduced inspection time, providing great accuracy and repeatability.

Last year the company won its second Queen’s Award for Enterprise - this time for Innovation. This follows its first Queen’s Award for Enterprise in the International Trade category in 2015.

The company credits the record turnover to its business strategy, which, alongside its hard working staff and loyal customers, has helped turn the ISO 9001 certified company into a multi-million pound business.