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What is Laser Tracker?
Laser tracker is Non-contact Co-ordinate
measuring machine.
It is capable of taking a large volume of
measurements with an accuracy of few
micrometres over a range of tens of meters.

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Laser trackers provide fast measurement of a
target which can be moved almost anywhere
within line-of-sight of the base unit.
high relative accuracy can be achieved.
Laser Trackers have largely superseded more
traditional methods such as Theodolites or
conventional metrology tools such as
What are laser trackers used for?
Robot tracking, calibration, maintenance and
Aircraft manufacturing
Automotive jig build and set up
Reverse engineering
Inspection and alignment
CNC Machine calibration
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Raw 3-D co-ordinates
CAD models
Reverse engineering data
Tracking of objects

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Components of laser Tracker
Optical Encoders for measuring
azimuth and elevation angles
Motors for Tracking and
automated positioning
Reflector to reflect back the laser
Position detector measuring
displacement between emitted
beam and returned beam.
Laser interferometer (IFM) for
measuring relative distance
between reflector and tracker
Absolute distance Meter (ADM)
used to establish the broken
Portable stand gives strong
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Laser Interferometer (IFM)
A laser beam is projected from the system to a reflector, with both
the exiting, and returning beams being monitored. As the
reflector is moved, the return beam moves, and the wave peaks
cross each other creating a superposition wave. Every time this
superposition wave peaks, it represents a change in distance of of
the wavelength, or in the case of the AIFM, 0.32 microns.

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Retro reflector
The laser tracker uses a sphere mounted retro reflector
(SMR), which consist of a corner cube reflector made carefully
so the apex of the mirrors coincides with the centre of
curvature of a precision tooling ball.
The incident beam is reflected and returned in 180,
regardless of the orientation of the target and the incident
beam direction.
These tracker balls then provide a well defined interface
between the optical measurement from the tracker and the
mechanical system being measured.
Laser tracker is additionally equipped with a camera, special module which
allows the usage of SRC (stylus & reflector combination) called T-Probe.
In this solution reflector is connected with a stylus ended with a tip ball, such
as in the case of classical CMM.
This solution uses photogrammetry in order to determine stylus orientation.
T-Probe enables measurements of geometrical features which cannot be
measured with SMR, especially dimensions related with holes.
No direct line of sight between probe tip and laser tracker required.
It Reaches hidden, recessed or hard-to-reach parts without needing to
reposition of laser tracker.

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Specification of Leica T-Probe
Measurement volume 30 m (98 ft)

Accuracy (MPE) 100 m (<7m)

30 m + 10 m/m (>7m)
Acceptance angle Pitch angle - 45 deg
(freedom to rotate) jaw angle - 45 deg
Roll angle 360 deg
Measuring rate output 1,000 points per second

Tracking speed all > 1 m/s

Acceleration, all 1g

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How T-Probe works?

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The T-Scan is a triangulation sensor.
A laser beam is projected onto the object surface using a rapidly rotating mirror.
Depending on the distance of the laser to the object surface, the reflected beam
hits the CCD (charge-coupled device) sensor at different positions.
It measures large objects without repositioning of laser tracker.
Generally used for reverse engineering ,fit &finish, assembly applications.
T-scanners can accurately capture millions of points within seconds. This point
cloud can then be converted into a feature based Solidworks or Autodesk Inventor
CAD model with complete history instead of a basic IGES or Step file.
The scanner can also be used to inspect complex surfaces against CAD models.

CCD : It is a device for the movement of electrical charge, usually from within device to an area where the
charge can be manipulated , for example conversion into digital value.
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Specification of Leica T-Probe
Measurement volume 30 m (98 ft)

Accuracy (MPE) 60 m (<8.5m)

60 m + 4 m/m (>8.5m)
Acceptance angle Pitch angle - 45 deg
(freedom to rotate) jaw angle - 45 deg
Roll angle 360 deg
Measuring rate output 20,000 points per second

Measuring depth 78mm

Measuring width 90mm
Line frequency up to 140 lines/second

Point density 0.07 mm 0.98 mm

Tracking speed all > 1 m/s

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How T-Scan works

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Principle of target tracking
laser tracker has the ability to follow the movements of the target.
When the reflector moves, the beam hits the target off-centre,
causing a lateral displacement between the emitted beam and the
returned beam
A two dimensional position detector in the laser tracker measure
this displacement and generates a signal to adjust the steering
mirror until the beam is centered back to its desired coaxial state
This mechanism allows the device to keep track of the target
movements of up to 5 meters per second.
Absolute distance meter (ADM)
ADM helps to determine the absolute distance of a new
reflector position.
In earlier versions of laser tracker, this required the operator
to bring the reflector to a pre-calibrated home position
whenever the laser beam is interrupted.
ADM technique utilizing the polarization modulation of the
laser light helps tracker to determine the absolute distance
without requirement to relocate the reflector to a home
Working principle

Schematic of a Laser Tracker with components

Working principle contd
The source beam is split with a beam splitter into a measurement and
reference beam
The measurement beam travels from this beam splitter to the target and
After returning from the target it will interfere with the reference leg of
the original beam, and this interference will be used to determine the
change in displacement of the target
The measurement beam is steered towards the target with a mirror
The mirror must reflect the measurement beam coming from the source
towards the target, and therefore must be able to rotate about two axes.
Target tracking will be achieved by the beam steering mechanism .
Measurement Principle
The laser tracker follows a retro-reflective target, recording
the distance, azimuth and elevation.
These polar co-ordinates are transformed into Cartesian co-
ordinates, which can be centred anywhere in the
measurement space.
Technical Specification of Laser Tracker

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Environmental influences
Refraction, variation in speed of light & turbulence affects the light
Change in refractive index results in an error in the wavelength of laser ,
causing the laser beam to bend, which results in variation in the
displacement measured.
The three factors influencing the refractive index are temperature,
pressure and humidity.
The influence of the temperature, pressure and humidity on the refractive
index can be reduced by controlling the environment.
Commercial laser trackers are equipped with small weather stations,
which measures the temperature, humidity and pressure to compensate
for different conditions.
What is an alignment?
An alignment, also called a (three-axis) reference system.
It is used for automatic CMM movement, result analysis, and to define
It is a mathematical system that allows coordinates to be calculated.
It is orthonormal and direct, i.e. the unit of measurement is the same in
all three axes and the angle between axes (read trigonometrically) is 90.
If no alignment is created, the reference system is the Tracker reference
Types of alignments : Model 3-2-1,Geometrical, On 3 center points, On
plane and 2 points, on 6 surface points, On reference features, Best fit,
Optimization of geometric points.
Multi stations
The multi-station procedure allows all the measurements made on
the different stations to be combined in a common coordinate
The calculation then matches the measurements made on the
different stations in order to express them in the same reference
system, by using measurement information for common points
measured on at least two different stations.
Benefits of the system
Intuitive: operator places the target anywhere
a co-ordinate is required.
Fast: each data point can be recorded in a few
Single user: one device and operator can
record points working alone,
Range: typically tens of metres, creating a
large working volume.
Limitation of the system
Contact: target must physically touch the measured point
Offset: recorded co-ordinates are offset from the actual
Target size: size of the retro-reflector limits the minimum
radius of curvature measurable
Environment: changes in air temperature, pressure and
humidity can affect measurements
Cost: a Laser Tracker is an expensive piece of equipment
Ruggedness: the Tracker is a high precision piece of
equipment and is unsuitable for use in many hazardous, dirty
or unstable environments