The aerospace industry places particularly high demands on product reliability and safety. Nadcap (National Aerospace and Defense Contractors Accreditation Program) is a worldwide cooperative program for major companies to audit their suppliers regarding special processes and products and to improve continuous development within the aerospace industry.
Nadcap accreditation is globally recognized as a company’s commitment to excellence and a trusted symbol of compliance. GOM’s service provider Physical Digital® is the world’s first company to be awarded with Nadcap accreditation for measurement and inspection using 3DSL scanners. To meet the standard, they have invested heavily in developing process, procedure and their equipment, which includes, for example, the introduction of the high-resolution and high-accuracy ATOS Triple Scan.
Nadcap accreditation is conducted by task groups with specific expertise based on different checklists for measurement equipment and processes. The 3D scanners checklist Nadcap AC7130/4, originally known as 3D Structured Light checklist, is the standard that is applicable to ATOS equipment and applications.
To meet the standard in Nadcap AC7130/4, Physical Digital has undertaken business and process improvements, aligned their 3D measurement service with aerospace requirements and invested heavily in the latest equipment by introducing, for example, an ATOS ScanBox automated inspection cell and a high-resolution ATOS Triple Scan sensor.
Daniel Lainchbury, Engineering Manager from Physical Digital, regards GOM as a great partner of measurement in the gas turbine industry. “Nadcap has a high standard on accuracy, traceability and repeatability, and GOM’s system is almost the only system that can be compliant to the standard,” he said. GOM’s automated system ATOS ScanBox has played a key role for Physical Digital to win the accreditation since customers can get very stable, repeatable measurements for statistical data analysis.
GOM’s ATOS series of industrial non-contact 3D scanners using structured blue light provides precision scans with detailed resolution at high speed. ATOS is engineered with advanced hardware and intelligent software for repeatable, accurate measurements with flexibility and process reliability. GOM’s Lee Griffiths, responsible for Business Development, says: “We have been working alongside the AC7130/4 checklist for some years now and recognize it’s a high accreditation standard. Being close to the requirements, we know how to achieve the accreditation with our systems and are delighted that Physical Digital have demonstrated this. We are excited and well positioned to support our existing and potential customers to achieve this status over the coming months and years.”
Physical Digital has provided 3D Structured Light (3DSL) measurement services to the aerospace industry since the company was founded in 2005, the company completes repeatability studies, batch measurement, inspection and analysis on industrial components from single turbine blades to complete jet turbine engines and full aircraft. The technological advancements made by GOM have earned Physical Digital not only a high-standard accreditation but a prestigious reputation as leader in offering 3D scanning service.
Optical 3D inspection can reduce the inspection time by up to 60%. It has taken off in the aerospace industry. The AC7130/4 checklist is a tribute to the success and has now standardized the approach for measurement with such systems by aerospace companies using 3D scanners as a method of product verification.
Major Aerospace OEM companies, known as Nadcap “Prime Subscribers” have started to mandate accreditation to AC7130/4 checklist where they’re using 3D scanning equipment. GOM’s Lee Griffiths says: “Prime Subscribers issuing mandates to suppliers sends a really positive message to the industry that ATOS technology is accepted and fit for purpose on aerospace and gas turbine components.”
Nadcap is the benchmark for high quality requirements of the aerospace industry. It has a high audit standard. “The Nadcap audit is more in-depth than other non-destructive testing (NDT) or quality audits, and every non-conformance initiated requires a thorough response,” Mark Aubele, Senior Program Manager for NDT at the US-based Performance Review Institute, told the Aerospace Testing International Magazine.
Prior to Nadcap, aerospace companies audited their own suppliers to their own process requirements to verify compliance. There are a lot of regulations and standards to adhere to, but Nadcap found that there was no common standard for measurement and inspection using 3D scanners. Also, these duplicate audits brought no added value but redundant and additional workload. Therefore, Nadcap replaced all the different customer audits. The Performance Review Institute was commissioned to administer the Nadcap program. Unlike third-party programs, Nadcap approval is granted based upon industry consensus.
Founded in 2005 by Tim Rapley, Physical Digital is the UK’s largest service provider of 3D Structured Light (3DSL) measurement, quality inspection, measurement planning, fixture design and implementation, ATOS ScanBox programming (including series 8) reverse engineering, and design services using the world-renowned GOM non-contact, high-accuracy measurement systems. Physical Digital offers both mobile, on-site 3D scanning as well as 3D automated measurement services in their specialist, environmentally controlled metrology cell based in their facility in Guildford, Surrey.