BreakThrough Interview

Precision Positioning Technology that Supports Manufacturing Around the WorldMETROL Co., Ltd.

2016.11.07

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Preventing Processing Failure of CNC Machine Tools

  • This article covers a company committed to continued development of its original technology for high-precision positioning switches, indispensable in preventing defective parts at manufacturing sites.

Joint development with Toyota leads to development of high-precision positioning switches

METROL Co., Ltd. was established in 1976 by Akira Matsuhashi, father of the current president, Takuji Matsuhashi, with a goal to design and manufacture measuring instruments used at manufacturing sites. In the beginning, the company mostly received orders to design single unit items, and it struggled to raise profit, but a big turning point came in 1977, when it received a request from Toyota Motor Corporation to develop a measuring instrument. Back then, Toyota needed a robust measuring instrument capable of sorting defective parts on its car production lines. The degree of precision demanded by Toyota was very strict, but METROL boldly took on the challenge and co-developed the High-Precision MT Touch Switch. From then on, METROL used this product as its foundation and worked on developing the technology for its high-precision positioning switches.

Tool Setters for CNC Machining Centers

Gaining world’s top level market share by specializing in mechanical sensors

The blades used on machining tools can cause position displacement and nicked edge over time, and these problems could lead to producing defective parts when left unfixed. In order to detect the displacement and correct it properly, it is essential to use a sensor that can precisely measure the position. While optical or magnetic non-contact electrical sensors were the mainstream products back then, METROL deliberately chose an approach to develop mechanical sensors that measure based on contact. Although electrical sensors have many advantages, they are affected by temperature fluctuations and noise at processing sites filled with oil and metallic dust, thereby making it difficult to conduct precise measurements. METROL, dedicated to mechanical sensors, realized an original precision design, resulting in its successful development of sensors capable of measuring position without displacement down to the one-micron level, even under adverse circumstances that are unsuitable for electrical sensors.

Meanwhile, the spread of computer numerical controlled (CNC) machining tools at production sites, and the advancement of automation on production lines, led to METROL receiving high acclaim for its high-precision positioning switches. METROL’s Tool Setters for CNC Machining Centers, which checks the source point of the tool’s blade before processing, automatically detects wear and breakage of the blade during processing, and then feeds back the results, became a huge hit.

Around that time, many Japanese manufacturers were moving their production sites overseas. METROL’s products were used at those overseas production sites, in China, Taiwan, South Korea, and other countries. In connection with this, METROL started receiving direct orders from manufacturers based overseas. Currently, METROL ships out its products to over 64 countries and it boasts the world’s top class market share in mechanical high-precision positioning switches. These achievements have led to its selection among the Global Niche Top Companies Selection 100 by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry in 2014.

Air Micro Sensor

Air Micro Sensor prevents the processing of defective parts

The current trend in manufacturing is focused on building a mechanism into the production process from the beginning to prevent defective parts all together, rather than to sort out defective parts from a group of completed parts. Because by doing so, it would be possible to stop production when a problem is detected to prevent further production of defective parts. METROL's newly developed Air Micro Sensor is drawing the attention of many representatives of manufacturers who are working diligently to improve their production processes striving for zero defective parts. This product is a gap sensor using air pressure technology that reduces the 20-micron level precision measurement of products by other companies down to +0.5 microns. This improved precision makes it possible for users to detect poor positioning of workpieces and jig caused by fine cutting powder in advance and prevent defective parts by automatically stopping the process. Air Micro Sensor is used in a wide range of fields, such as the production processes of auto parts and hard disk, contributing to a significant improvement in productivity. In recognition of this, it was awarded the Excellence Award of the Tokyo Venture Technology Award in 2015.

METROL's newly developed Air Micro Sensor is drawing the attention of many representatives of manufacturers who are working diligently to improve their production processes striving for zero defective parts. This product is a gap sensor using air pressure technology that reduces the 20-micron level precision measurement of products by other companies down to +0.5 microns. This improved precision makes it possible for users to detect poor positioning of workpieces and jig caused by fine cutting powder in advance and prevent defective parts by automatically stopping the process. Air Micro Sensor is used in a wide range of fields, such as the production processes of auto parts and hard disk, contributing to a significant improvement in productivity. In recognition of this, it was awarded the Excellence Award of the Tokyo Venture Technology Award in 2015.

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METROL Co., Ltd.

METROL specialize in manufacturing Tool Setters & Precision Positioning Switches

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