How to Retrofit an old, manual CMM

Good Morning all,

Not sure if this is the best place to post this...but here goes....

OK. We have an old CMM. A Mitutoyo B231 Manual machine. It's been an excellent machine over the years - great for quick "Grab it and go" measures. Highly useful.
Also, I must admit that I have a soft spot for the machine since it's the first and only one I've ever used.....;)

Anyway - lately it has started to malfunction. It appears that the Scales and readers are OK, but the old mother board and MAG reader etc are starting to go bad. We are making this assessment based on what our service tech has been able to ascertain.
There has been discussion about just replacing it with a second DNC CMM....but frankly I like the idea of having a manual machine around.

The assumption I think is that if we look into doing a retrofit, the cost will be prohibitive....better to just buy another one.

But I (being stubborn) have to think that the components are likely readily available "off the shelf" to read X,Y, and Z. After all, one can go on the internet and buy everything they need to build their own CNC router (I know because I did it.:D). After that it is all a matter of software....

So that is my query....Does anyone have experience with this sort of thing?
Can it be Done? Are components available?
I don't mean just old used B231 parts...but new off the shelf "after-market" items. (Mitutoyo doesn't make these anymore)


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I have had several CMMs retrofit, although it was quite a while ago. I found that it was definitely a cost saving at the time and I was able to find several companies that specialized in it. There was plenty of hardware options and you could choose from different software packages depending on whether you wanted to go with a main line CMM company software or there were replacement software packages from refit companies. What I did, was choose software that matched my newer machines to reduce the downtime in training my inspectors and operators on the new software. I was very satisfied with the result both in cost and in the performance of the upgraded machines. Hope this helps.


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It really depends on the type of work your CMM measures.

Does it check one part or is it used to check a batch?

What are the tolerances of the part(s) being measured?

What is the technical compliance of those who would use it?

A DCC type machine is very good at removing the following:
Operator error, either not checking a part correctly or mis-probing a part.
Checking difficult to get to features
Measuring consistently (no shanking, consistent probe speeds, hitting part in the exact spot required).
Speed of measuring the same batch of parts (measuring 10 parts in a row for example).

A manual machine is good for:
Quick location and size measurements for 1 or 2 parts per setup.
Easier learning curve

Currently I use a CMM that can do both DCC and Manual measurements (I believe most CMMs can do this). I do find .0002-.0008 measurement differences between me running manual and having the machine run the exact same part in DCC mode (the machine I run is programmed by manually touching off the part).
We have a DCC machine so this machine is used more for quick and mostly pretty basic measures.

Tolerances are generally not all that tight. +/-.005 and up are quite common. Tighter than that are fairly rare.

That is why I am wondering whether there is a fairly inexpensive retrofit is out there. We don't really need it to do anything all that fancy - but with things like new "Microhites" running into the 6K range (for basically one axis) I thought this other option would be worth looking into.

That said - it appears that what I am asking is not a very common approach



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We also have an older CMM that we were thinking of retro-fitting but after the true cost of upgrading came about, we decided it would be allot less expensive to just by a new machine. We probably had a rare instance in this but the following items decided us:

  • We needed to replace the controller board. A new board was quoted at about $7,000
  • The new board would not work with the software we currently use (it was very old software) so new software would need to be bought at about $12,000.
  • The probe head is/was 15 years old and was recommended to be replaced at $6,000.

So, it would be about $25,000 to retrofit the CMM (still be fully manual) or we could buy a DCC for about $35,000.

My prices are from memory 2 years old so may be incorrect, I do remember it being $25,000

Granted, the manual is 36 x 24 x 24 and the new DCC is 12 x 12 x 10 but our parts are not that big. In our case, it was a cost vs. cost analysis. I was also under the impression that the prices were inflated (this was just an impression) because it was still 1/2 the price of the new model the guy who quoted the repair was trying to sell us (we bought the new one from a different manufacture).


Involved In Discussions
Just made some notes yesterday, from another forum about updating a manual Numerex that I have. Some of these may be useful:

On manual CMM's OTOH, you can retrofit to a Metronics ND1400

Quadra-Chek DRO Overview

Got the price today from a Heidenhain distributor. $7,000 gets you CMM manager software, a scale interface kit, and installation. You provide a PC to run it on. The alternative is the NV1400 unit, for a few hundred less, but less powerful and more difficult to use.
A good forum is: CMM Talk . Haven?t been there for a few years but there was a lot of knowledgeable people there.

metromec software?
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