The Identification of Geometric Errors in Five-Axis Machine Tools Using the Telescoping Magnetic Ballbar

  • Joseph Flynn

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


To maximise productivity and reduce scrap in high-value, low-volume production, five-axis machine tool (5A-MT) motion accuracy must be verified quickly and reliably. Numerous metrology instruments have been developed to measure errors arising from geometric imperfections within and between machine tool axes (amongst other sources). One example is the TMBB, which is becoming an increasingly popular instrument to measure both linear and rotary axis errors. This research proposes new TMBB measurement technique to rapidly, accurately and reliably measure all position-independent rotary axis errors in a 5A-MT.In this research two literature reviews have been conducted. The findings informed the subsequent development of a virtual machine tool (VMT). This VMT was used to capture the effects of rotary and linear axis position-independent geometric errors, and apparatus set-up errors on a variety of candidate measurement routines. This new knowledge then informed the design of an experimental methodology to capture specific phenomena that were observed within the VMT on a commercial 5A-MT. Finally, statistical analysis of experimental measurements facilitated a quantification of the repeatability, strengths and limitations of the final testing method concept.The major contribution of this research is the development of a single set-up testing procedure to identify all 5A-MT rotary axis location errors, whilst remaining robust in the presence of set-up and linear axis location errors. Additionally, a novel variance-based sensitivity analysis approach was used to design testing procedures. By considering the effects of extraneous error sources (set-up and linear location) in the design and validation phases, an added robustness was introduced. Furthermore, this research marks the first usage of Monte Carlo uncertainty analysis in conjunction with rotary axis TMBB testing.Experimental evidence has shown that the proposed corrections for set-up and linear axis errors are highly effective and completely indispensable in rotary axis testing of this kind. However, further development of the single set-up method is necessary, as geometric errors cannot always be measured identically at different testing locations. This has highlighted the importance of considering the influences on 5A-MT component errors on testing results, as the machine tool axes cannot necessarily be modelled as straight lines.
Date of Award27 May 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SponsorsEngineering and Physical Sciences Research Council & Renishaw plc
SupervisorStephen Newman (Supervisor), Vimal Dhokia (Supervisor) & William Lee (Supervisor)


  • Ballbar
  • Machine Tool Calibration
  • Metrology

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