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Got GD&T? Exploring the Importance of Advanced Mechanical Inspection

There are several levels of inspection:

  • The first or entry level inspection is a review of incoming product that is handled by the receiving team. They are responsible for conducting inspection basics, such as evaluation of documentation, count verification of shipment, visual verification, gross shipping damage assessment, etching confirmation, etc.
  • The second or mid tier inspection is more complex, involving the use of hand tools such as calipers, gauges and basic comparators to complete simple measurements for fundamental dimensions.
  • The final or advanced inspection can involve complex inspection techniques and requires more sophisticated equipment and associated programming to perform a wide range of intricate measurements, such as diameter, pitch, positioning and internal dimensions. First article inspection, which necessitates a lengthy process to check every element of a design print as well as a highly detailed report, occurs at this level. The equipment used at this level includes coordinate measuring machines, optical comparators, vision systems and micro-hite measuring systems.

incoming inspection, the first step in the processAt left, incoming inspection, the first step in the process.

Experience, Experience, Experience

The best mechanical inspectors are usually the most experienced. Mechanical inspectors are expected to recognize over 100 combinations of symbols and understand the meaning of patterns created by the combinations in terms of dimensions and specifications. Geometric dimensioning and tolerancing (GD&T) skills are acquired over time, and usually cannot be learned quickly. A comprehensive training process is valuable, but experience is the most important characteristic of an expert in mechanical inspection. Another critical characteristic of a mechanical inspection expert is having an “eye for detail,” very loosely defined as the ability to identify and distinguish particular and sometimes minute features.


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