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Making the Invisible Visible

Computed tomography in the P&G Quality Innovation Center at BRAUN in Kronberg, Germany

Everyday objects such as toothbrushes or shaving devices have to meet increasingly higher design and quality requirements. Shorter product lifecycles place high demands on development and production processes. Proctor & Gamble (to which Braun® belongs) relies on Metrotomography® from Carl Zeiss to develop high-quality products in a short time for volume production.

The situation

In addition to their attractive designs, modern products are also frequently assembled from single parts made of various materials. The main challenge in tool development is getting the single components with their elaborate shapes to fit perfectly. Every customer can see the quality of the surfaces and the flawless functionality of the products when they are bought.

The majority of components are produced millions of times. Once the parts are in production, it is very expensive to correct design or process flaws. Therefore, it is vital to use measuring technology during development in order to transfer the products to volume production in compliance with these demands on quality. The P&G Quality Innovation Center in Kronberg, Germany, ensures that this process runs as smoothly as possible.

Optimizing quality

In addition to other departments, Linear Measuring Technology is also involved in the product generation process. The Quality Innovation Center needed a solution to further increase product quality and to optimize the product generation process in cooperation with the single departments. Parts with complex shapes increasingly complicated their evaluation with the existing measuring technology. The center was looking for as much information as possible as fast as possible about the dimensional stability and quality of the parts. Procedures with contact and optical measuring technology cannot capture complex interior geometries and elaborate surface forms or analyze porosities in the parts without destroying it. The solution to this challenge was a new development by Carl Zeiss: Metrotomography® – the fusion of computed tomography and metrology. The P&G Quality Innovation Center has been home to a METROTOM® 1500 computer tomograph from Carl Zeiss since February 2008. P&G is thus one of the first METROTOM customers. “Our good experience with ZEISS coordinate measuring machines and the outstanding METROTOM concept made our decision much easier,” reports CT project manager Jochen Maass, “and we were not disappointed; the implementation of this new technology was a success.”

A look inside

For the requirements at P&G, metrotomography is the ideal measuring method for quickly and efficiently generating highly accurate measurement data on complex 3D parts. But that is not all. CT technology enables you to look inside finished products and find inclusions in the structural elements. In the past, this was very difficult,” explains Maass, “the parts had to be covered with resin and then cut apart slice by slice." However, it was often not possible to determine the cause of a material defect. The defect was frequently located on the trimmed edge of the material. Thanks to the analysis methods of METROTOM, these time-consuming and complex procedures are no longer necessary. A product is tomographed within a very short time and the result can be graphically evaluated in a volume model. METROTOM can also be used for assembly checks. If there is a defect on a device, the cause can be quickly localized with metrotomography. The image data is very informative and is available to everyone involved in the development process. Once scanned, the data is available for additional inspections and analyses for years.

Unknown possibilities

This previously unknown system has considerably enhanced the evaluation possibilities of the metrology department in the company. Employees from the design, development and production departments now frequently visit the measuring technicians at the Quality Innovation Center and enthusiastically utilize everything the computer tomograph has to offer.

About the company

Braun is a well-known manufacturer of electric shavers, toothbrushes and household appliances. It is a member of the global Procter & Gamble corporation. P&G has had a presence in Germany since 1960 at about 20 locations, including three innovation centers with approximately 1000 employees in research and development. P&G has a global workforce of around 138,000 people in more than 80 countries, 15,000 of them in Germany. This makes Germany the largest P&G location outside the United States. The company boasts one of the strongest portfolios of proven, high-quality and leading brands, including Pampers®, Pringles®, Lenor®, Oral-B®, Duracell®, Wella®, Head & Shoulders®, Gillette®  and Braun®.