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Alignment at Commercial Marine Expo – Providence RI – March 15-16, 2017

LUDECA and I&E Central will be exhibiting at the Commercial Marine Expo in Providence, RI this year.

When: Wednesday, March 15, 2017, 10am – 4pm & Thursday, March 16, 2017, 10am – 3pm

Where: Rhode Island Convention Center, 1 Sabin St, Providence, RI

More information is available here

LUDECA and I&E Central will be exhibiting products from Easy Laser and SDT, showing solutions for:

  • Shaft Alignment
  • Bore Alignment
  • Stern Tube Alignment
  • Propeller Shaft Alignment
  • Turbine Alignment
  • Ultrasonic Tightness Testing
  • Ultrasonic Inspection for leak detection and preventative maintenance

Stop by and see us!


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Lathe Spindle to Tailstock Alignment

In the last week, we have had conversations with two prospective customers who are challenged with aligning the tailstock or sub-spindle on a lathe with the primary spindle. They way this is traditionally performed is by securing pieces of stock in both chucks, then machining both to see if they come out identically. If they are off, adjustments are made (usually to the tailstock), and another machining run is performed. The process is time consuming, and when adjustments are being made, there is no indication as to just how much adjustment is needed.

We will be able to help both of these customers with this measurement. With the Easy-Laser system, it is easy to measure the alignment of these two spindles. The measurement takes under a minute, and once completed displays both vertical and horizontal misalignment, both offset and angular. A further benefit is that the needed adjustments are displayed, and can be viewed live as the adjustments are being made. The distance between the two spindles can be up to 60 feet, so even the largest machines can be aligned. Measurement resolution can be as fine as .005 thousandths, more than enough for any machine.

Lathe Spindle to Tailstock Alignment


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Geometric Measurement of a Horizontal Boring Mill

Geometric Measurement and Documentation of Horizontal Boring Mill

Using the Easy Laser E940 (and related) systems, performing geometric measurement of your mills, lathes, and more is made fast and repeatable.  We recently completed documenting the geometry of a large Horizontal boring mill using the Easy-Laser E940 machine tool system. Documented measurements were required by the customer to satisfy their ISO quality program.

This machine has 4 axis of movement ranging from 19” on the W-axis, to 66” on the x axis.  We measured straightness on all 4 axis, plus the squareness of the column movement (Y axis) to the machine bed. Work was completed in about 2 hours with a break in the middle.

The Easy Laser technology available through I&E Central makes all manner of measurement and alignment easy, fast, repeatable and document-able.  Contact us today to discuss your application and how we can help you.

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Case Study: Automatic Lathe Alignment with Easy Laser

Lathe Alignment Using the Easy Laser Alignment System

Lathe Alignment is a challenging task, requiring specialized equipment and knowledgeable personnel.  With the Easy Laser Alignment system, Lathe Alignment is made fast, easy and accurate.  Read below for a recent case study on a successful Lathe Alignment.

In June 2015, I&E Central (along with a service partner) performed alignment on an automatic lathe similar to the photo above. The lathe is fed 20’ sections of tube stock which are supported alternately by V-rollers, and then clamped by “steady rests” while being machined. The objective of this alignment was to have the stock in perfect alignment with the rotational center of the collet when supported by either V-rollers or the steady-rests. I addition, there is a pusher system that advances the stock into the collet. The movement of the pusher needed also to be aligned with the rotational center.

This photo shows one of the steady rests in the open position, and one of the V-rollers, also in a retracted position.

Steady Rest of Automatic Lathe - Shown to Demonstrate Laser Alignment of the Lathe

Measurement Procedure:

Spindle Laser shown mounted in Lathe chuck, for purposes of laser alignment and measurement

A laser transmitter was mounted in the spindle with its beam directed through the collet. The laser was aimed to follow the rotational center, then the spindle was turned at 100 RPM for measurement. In this way the beam precisely marked the rotational center along the entire length of the machine.

Easy Laser Detector mounted into steady rest for purposes of laser measurement and alignment

The first measurement was the location of the center or each steady rest. A laser detector was mounted on a 12” x 2” piece of stock, which was locked in each steady rest for measurement. A center of circle straightness measurement was used to determine the position of each steady rest. Once that was complete, each steady rest was measured again, and adjusted live so that the stock was held co-linear with the center of rotation. The measurement and adjustment process was completed in under 3 hours.

Once completed, pk-pk deviation in the vertical plane was 0.0095”, in the horizontal plane it was 0.020”, well within the customer’s desired specifications.

The next step was measuring the straightness of travel of the pusher arm relative to the rotational center of the lathe.  This was accomplished by grasping the same piece of stock with the jaws of the pusher, then measuring its true position at 4 locations along its travel.

Laser Measurement and Alignment of pusher bar for automatic lathe

It was found that the initial path of travel was downward relative to the center-line, so 0.250” of shims were removed from the rear feet of the support structure. After adjustment, pk-pk deviation of the pusher in the vertical plane was 0.064”, and in the horizontal plane was 0.145. Further adjustment was possible, however this was well within the customer expectations.

The final adjustment on this end of the machine involved adjusting the V-rolls to support the tube stock in line with the center of rotation. This adjustment was actually done without the laser. Now that the pusher was aligned with the rotational center of the collet, a full length piece of stock was secured in the collet with the other end supported by the pusher. Each V-roll in turn was activated, and then adjusted with shims so that it supported the stock precisely on the center-line. Once adjustment was complete, the stock could be freely rolled into the collet without touching on any side, and when grabbed with the steady rests, showed no discernible movement (and this is a “violent” hydraulic grab).

Laser Measurement and Alignment of Industrial Lathe

For more info on the Easy Laser Alignment packages and offerings, click here for more info and literature.  Or contact us at 866-225-0182.  We love a challenge!

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Shim and Alignment Best Practices

There are many manufacturers of alignment shims. Chances are you use whatever shims you started with, and haven’t considered looking for something different. Not all shims and kits are created equal. The below will help you understand if you should be shopping around for a better product.

See alignment systems, accu-sized shims, and in full kits or replacement packs. Contact us at 866-225-0182 with your questions!

1.  You should have a full set including 13 thicknesses ranging from .001 to 0.125 “.  A full set contains 20 of each size, although starter sets may be available with 10 of each size

2.  Shims are available in a number of materials. Type 304 Stainless Steel is the standard, other materials are available for specialized applications

3.  Shims should be marked with the nominal thickness on all shims (i.e. 0.015, 0.050)

4.  Shims .050 and above should also be marked with the actual thickness. The allowable tolerance on shims goes up as they get thicker, a shim with a nominal value of 0.100 could be ± .004!  Having the shims marked with the actual thickness improves the accuracy of your correction, and can save you an extra move or so when aligning

5.  Markings on shims should be etched or stamped, so that they do not rub off

6.  Shims should be easy to get in and out of their box! While this sounds insignificant, different suppliers use different means to secure and separate their shims.  We have used shims at customer facilities that are very hard to remove from the box, and hard to replace when making a change. As a result, shims don’t get returned to their proper place, the shim kit ends up disorganized, and you run out of shims of one or more sizes

7.  Your shim supplier should be able to provide replacement packs of individual shim sizes when you get low on one. Keep them organized, and you’ll know when its time to restock!

Shims come in several standard sizes, A (2 X 2”), B (3 X 3”) C (4 X 4”) and D (5 X 5”). The proper size is based on the bolt diameter. For large and specialized machines, custom shims can be manufactured to order.

A Word on Shim Packs:

When shimming a machine, you should do the correction with 4 or less shims. If there is an existing shim pack under a foot, remove it, add or subtract the correction to the existing thickness, and build a new shim pack. You will sometimes find a machine with feet supported by a “deck of cards” thanks to a history of small realignments (maybe a problem with the base?). Pull them out, and rebuild the pack. A stack of many shims can become “spongy” and makes a less than ideal foundation.

Other Best Practices:

Some mechanics go so far as to measure the thickness of their shim packs with a digital caliper. While this is not strictly necessary, it can make a difference in the number of moves required to complete an alignment. If you have a caliper available, it’s OK to use it!

Sometimes you will encounter a machine that needs excessive correction (say more than ¼”). It may make sense in these cases to fabricate “chocks” to put under all feet, and start the alignment from that point.

In extreme cases, the only solution to appropriately aligning a machine may be to have a new base machined and installed. This is especially true in the case of a flexible, non-rigid or otherwise poorly designed base.

In addition to our excellent Easy Laser Alignment Systems, I&E Central offers accu-sized shims in all sizes, and in full kits or replacement packs. Download our shim data sheet for details and pricing on all of our shim options, or contact us at 866-225-0182 with your questions!