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The Coordinate Measuring Machine at the Pantex Plant has a 2-ton granite working surface and a bridge beam assembly floating on a thin cushion of air. It uses a high-performance scanning probe and can precisely measure items in 2D and 3D.
The Coordinate Measuring Machine at the Pantex Plant has a 2-ton granite working surface and a bridge beam assembly floating on a thin cushion of air. It uses a high-performance scanning probe and can precisely measure items in 2D and 3D.

Metrology may not mean what you think it does. It is the science of weights and measurements, and it is at the very core of daily work at the Pantex Plant, in Amarillo, TX. And while accurate weather forecasts are nice to have via meteorology, maintaining the safety, security, and reliability of the Nation’s nuclear arsenal is the story of metrology.

One of the pieces of incredibly detailed machinery that assists metrology is the new Global S Chrome; Coordinate Measuring Machine, or CMM. It’s comprised of a 2-ton granite working surface and a bridge beam assembly floating on a thin cushion of air. The entire apparatus uses a high-performance scanning probe and can measure items in 2D and 3D.

To capture exact tolerances the machine must be utilized in a highly stable, thermally controlled environment.
To capture exact tolerances the machine must be utilized in a highly stable, thermally controlled environment.

Another new and larger CMM will be installed at Pantex in August 2020. The enhanced capabilities will enhance capacity and allow the NNSA plant to meet the demand for virtually any dimensional calibration measurements. In short, it means that the Pantex tools and equipment will perform exactly as needed.

Due to the precision tolerances involved, often in microscopic dimensions, the machine must be utilized in a highly stable, thermally controlled environment by Metrology Technicians in the Dimensional Lab. The CMM, one of several at Pantex, is used to ensure special tooling made by the plant’s Machine Shop meets quality requirements prior to use. Once the shop has completed its work to exacting specifications, the tooling is moved to Pantex Metrology, and critical features requiring calibration are measured with the CMM.

The CMM enables that the work done by other Pantex operations, including Manufacturing, the Machine Shop, High Explosives Machining, and other entities, meets fitment and testing requirements. Additionally, it will help reduce the backlog of items awaiting calibration.

“The addition of this CMM is an important step in continuing to modernize our calibration capabilities at the Pantex Plant,” said Kenny Steward, Pantex Quality Operations Director. “This CMM reduces a single point failure risk in our precision measuring capabilities and enables us to reduce turnaround time for critical production operations.”