Find a Rep. Find a Rep.

Blount International

ShapeGrabber® Ai810 Scanner Improves Efficiency, Reduces Cost-of-Quality for Manufacturer of Metal Parts

About the company

Blount International, a leading manufacturer of equipment, accessories and replacement parts for the global forestry, garden and construction industries, produces in the range of 1,900 different OEM and after-market lawnmower blades.

Brian Brunk

Engineering Manager Blount International

The Challenge

Tolerances on blade manufacturing have tightened as OEMs strive to achieve optimal performance. In its quest to continuously optimize quality while controlling costs, Blount sought to incorporate more automation into its Quality Inspection process.

The company had always used traditional methods of measurement such as calipers and height gauges – to verify the conformance of its mower blades to specifications. The company’s Engineering Manager believed that particular product attributes could be measured more efficiently.

Lawnmower blade manufactured by Blount International
"Before we release a new die for production, we do a capability study to prove the accuracy of the die and qualify the tooling. "

Furthermore, he looked to automation to relieve bottlenecks in the traditional process, as only a handful of personnel – die setters and Quality Control staff – were able to perform quality measurements using manual techniques.

Blount evaluated automated 3D scanning options based on six key criteria:

  • Ease of use
  • Flexibility
  • Versatility
  • Speed
  • Accuracy
  • Training & support

The OGP Solution

Blount chose the ShapeGrabber Ai810 3D Scanner as the ideal automated 3D scanning solution to measure all of the key product characteristics that Blount was concerned with across 1,800-2,000 different blade designs. The Ai810 provides rapid scanning of whole parts and easily accommodates the varying sizes of blades in Blount’s product line.

Today, more than 50 operations personnel are able to use the Ai810 3D laser scanner – the average training time required to get up to speed on the scanner is just one hour per person.

The scanner is also used in areas outside of Quality Control, such as design and development. Scan data provided by the Ai810 scanner and Geomagic software is used to create solid models that are in turn used to develop tooling.

A ShapeGrabber Ai820 3D laser scanning system by OGP

The Results

"ShapeGrabber provides the ability to do that (the capability study) through automation rather than manual inspection."

Using the ShapeGrabber Ai810 3D scanner, Blount has achieved a 30% improvement in inspection speed with no impact to accuracy (up to 0.003 of an inch). A blade can be scanned in just 8 minutes and the scans can be completed by nearly any operations personnel.

Lead time on mower blade production has also dropped by nearly 30% thanks to the ShapeGrabber scanner. This is attributed to improved product quality and first-pass yield.

An unexpected benefit of the ShapeGrabber scanner has also been reported: it is supporting a culture of quality at Blount. Employees are taking more ownership of the products and their quality.

In 2022, the ShapeGrabber Ai810 was replaced by the new ShapeGrabber Ai820 with the SG508 scanhead and is a large capacity floor model with a standard vertical axis. ShapeGrabber Ai820 is also offered with a horizontal axis, perfect for larger more intricate parts.