Issue: Aug 2010


Ai interview - Arno Köhler, General Manager, ZygoLOT GmbH



by Ron Charles

The German firm ZygoLOT GmbH, is a leading supplier of optical metrology instruments, precision optics and electro-optical design and manufacturing services. The company was founded in 1999 when the US-based Zygo Corporation and the German LOT-Oriel GmbH & Co entered into a joint venture to create ZygoLOT. Zygo Corporation designs, develops, manufactures, and markets high performance measurement and yield improvement instruments, systems, and accessories used in high technology industries. LOT-Oriel was a pan-European distributor of high technology equipment for metrology in industry and R&D laboratories with its own subsidiaries and joint ventures in all major European countries. The two companies’ association started in 1976 before culminating in the joint venture. 

ZygoLOT’s customer base is mainly drawn from the automotive, semiconductor, optics and photonics and photovoltaic markets. For the automotive sector, the company has a range of products including ZYGO’s NewView™ series of optical profilers which measure and quantify flatness, surface roughness, step heights, critical dimensions, and surface topography, with unmatched speed and precision. Based on non-contact and patented scanning white-light technology, the NewView™ delivers best-in-class 3D surface metrology for applications in production, QC and leading research. A full suite of 2D and 3D surface analysis tools are available for comprehensive data analysis, visualization, and reporting. 

The company offers several models which are available to meet most any metrology application and budget requirement from the high-speed and most capable NewView™ 7000 series, to the cost-effective and small footprint NewView™ 700 series. “ZYGO has developed the reputation and unique competence to partner closely with our customers to design, develop and deliver value-added metrology solutions. These customized solutions include large part inspection systems with extended stage travel, optical imaging accessories, custom software development, industrial packaged enclosures, part fixtures, and integrated metrology modules for our OEM partners. Our dedicated team of professionals and best-in-class hardware will ensure that you receive total customer satisfaction with our metrology equipment and services,” says the company.

The other product aimed at the automotive and precision machining segment is the ZYGO NewView™ surface profilers, ZYGO's NewView™ MPT provides important operational and performance enhancements which make it easy to measure precision parts right on the factory floor. “It's fast, it's accurate, it's repeatable”, says the company.

MetroPro® is ZYGO's comprehensive metrology analysis software package. It delivers measurement results in high-resolution 3-D graphics, and allows users to select from a multitude of numerical measurement values, providing the quantitative data needed to keep processes under control. “The NewView™ MPT's rugged enclosure is right at home on the factory floor. It provides a secure, yet service-accessible, housing for NewView™ surface profiler and computer system, a factory-grade keyboard and pointing device, and an ergonomically-mounted 24-inch flat-panel touch-screen/display – all in a footprint of less than one square yard,” says ZygoLOT.

ZygoLOT helps its customers to customize the metrology systems according to their critical application requirements. The company uses the basic Zygo instruments, design and build special fixturing, customize the automation part of it or even engineer a whole new system.

Automotive Industries spoke to Arno Köhler, General Manager, ZygoLOT GmbH.

AI: Tell us about ZygoLOT’s metrology solutions – what kind of R&D, quality development and management systems have gone into these solutions?

Zygo Corporation, celebrating its 40th year, started as a world-class optical fabrication facility. To produce these high precision optical plano surfaces required new metrology with features and flexibility that was not available on the market at the time, so Zygo designed and produced their own laser-based interferometer in-house, the GH-1. The GH-1 was introduced to the world in 1972. ZYGO’s metrology business started to boom with 3 consecutive newer models of the laser based system, to the introduction of the NewView 100, ZYGO’s first scanning white light based interferometer in 1987.

Since 1970, Zygo Corporation currently has over 300 patents in optical metrology, with 20 patents directly related to the automotive market. This not only shows a strong technical commitment to evolving non-contact metrology, but also the relationship with our customers and markets.

With ever increasing regulation on automotive emissions and the need to reduce greenhouse-producing gases, automotive manufacturers are constantly looking for ways to improve surface finishing technologies, at the same time reducing the required tolerances on all designs.
Today our systems are successfully established in the value-added chain from basic R&D, pre-production, manufacturing floor-based metrology rooms and production.

AI: What are some of the features of ZYGO’s PTI measuring interferometer systems?

The PTI is an ultra fast and easy to use instrument based on interferometric Fizeau technology. The instrument, because of its small package, can fit anywhere on the production floor, for instance, next to a grinding machine or in the floor metrology lab, and deliver highly accurate and precise results on flatness.

Ease-of-use was critical in the design of the PTI. From the moment a user encounters this metrology device, part measurements and results are easy to obtain and are very reproducible.


AI: What are some of the productivity and yield enhancement solutions for manufacturers of precision industrial and automotive component makers?

Through integration of our technology in to production lines, our metrology can easily be used to enhance the production yield. We were challenged by a world-leading diesel systems company to design and implement a metrology system for direct use in a new generation production line. The metrology goal was to measure non-contact, and sort the parts into 2-micron categories in an extremely short amount of TACT time. This challenge was successful not only for Zygo, but also for our customer. The ‘start of production’ (SOP) was on schedule and helped produce parts at better than 90% yield, a jump of more than 20% over the previous SOP!

AI: How do ZYGO’s testing solutions help the automotive industry, which uses construction materials such as steel?

The industry is able to machine steel extremely fast and precise to very demanding tolerances. The bottleneck for very precision parts in today’s production lines is very often the SPC unit.

Within one minute, a high tech grinding machine is able to produce up to 10 to 50 pieces. The limiting factor here is the traditional stylus system used for metrology. The 2D approach will not always give the ‘full’ story of the surface form or finish of the produced part in one measurement, which will require more time for part measurement. The grinding machine operator would like to have this information as soon as possible to see if the machine is producing the parts within its tolerance bands.

Since optical metrology is an areal (3D) measurement, the operator will immediately see any form deviation and even use the 3D image to adjust for the correct machine parameters.

For the R&D department, where very often a Scanning Electron Microscope is used to qualify the material. With our systems it is possible to quantify it.

AI: How do ZYGO’s solutions help in the concentration to engine advancement in common rail operations?

The EU regulations for stricter emissions from diesel engines forced the automotive component manufacturers to look at all aspects of the automobile and where reductions in emissions could occur, the primary, of course, being the engine itself. If the manufacturers could reduce the amount of residual fuel that was not ignited during the combustion stage, this would greatly reduce the amount of ‘dirty emissions’. This concept is, in part, what led to the new diesel direct injection technologies, such as common rail injection which uses extremely high pressures relative to past diesel technologies.

Zygo and ZygoLOT helped our customers develop the level of metrology needed for extremely tight tolerances for parts, and also assisted with new technologies in the inspection of diesel injectors and diesel bodies.

With our relationship to our customers, we are able to enhance our standard products with modifications, either to the hardware or the software, to assist them with special measurement requirements. This unique relationship helps both our company to enhance our engineering and support structures, and at the same time, enables our customers to discover better ways to improve their own products or manufacturing methods.

AI: What are some of the new products you plan to launch aimed at the automotive/precision machining market?

It is clear to us that one of the most demanding challenges for launching new instruments is the understanding of our customers' metrology issues, and best before the production line is already set up.

Therefore our metrology application engineers have a very close relationship with their customer counterparts, assisting in the design and pre-production phase. This relationship with our customers has even evolved into simultaneous engineering projects, where our technology and ‘know-how’ were specifically sought for unique solutions to complex problems. These customer/supplier synergies drive the need for new applications and systems.

For ZygoLOT, our core business is the automotive/precision machining market. Our vision is to enhance our current technologies with new features and application ideas to bring new solutions to our customer’s problems. This will involve both the NewView™ and GPI™ series of interferometers.


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