Machine calibration is a process during which a piece of machinery is adjusted to ensure its accuracy and precision. It is performed on new equipment to show that the advertised accuracy is correct as well as on used equipment to update it and keep the machine running at certain standards.
Over time, a machine’s performance degrades due to the wear and tear of industrial use. Vibrations, repetitious movements and pollutants can have a negative impact on the accuracy of machinery; calibration readjusts it so that it operates at the same level that is identified by the dial, screen, gauge or other indicator.
Calibration is a comparison between a measurement of a known magnitude and a measurement taken from the machine that is being calibrated. The difference is observed and then the technician makes the necessary changes and adjustments before measuring again to ensure that the values are identical. The calibration process is important to many industries and companies because the accurate functioning of the machine is central to their business.
A machine that incorrectly displays the speed or applied weight may damage the operator, the product or itself. A mistake in one machining process may impact many others because equipment is often used in total systems. Machine calibration is performed on the vast majority of machines and equipment in every industry.
Machine calibration, alignment and adjustment keep production costs low because they help ensure that the machine will perform as it is supposed to. If a boring machine makes a hole that is not centered correctly, the bolt and nut that are meant to hold the pieces together will be off and then the part could be structurally unsound. In other instances, the sides of a product may not be square or the top and bottom are not parallel. In these cases, machine calibration is the solution.
A trained technician performs the calibration by attaching a device that is able to produce a correct reading to contrast the measurement of the machine. Precision step gauges, ball bars or lasers are used to perform linear accuracy, straightness and angularity checks for calibration. Because of the wide variety of machines that are used to perform hundreds of tasks, many different kinds of calibration services and calibration devices exist including subgroups like pressure or load cell calibration.
Machines can be calibrated to correct linear, rotary and trunnion positioning, axial straightness, diagonal laser performance, surface flatness, servo response, geometrical rolling, spindle squareness and more. The technician who performs the calibration usually completes a summary report and certificate to show that the machine has been calibrated to industrial and national standards.