Laser Tracker Fundamentals and Advancements

by Daniel Moser on January 15, 2019 From Technology

Our range of laser tracker systems are a central part of our portable metrology product line up, and represent the latest incarnation of a technology that’s sure to be familiar to the majority of those working in industrial quality assurance.

The first laser trackers were released in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and the fundamental process by which they operate hasn’t changed too much since: measure two angles and a distance in order to locate a point in three-dimensional space.

But that’s not to say things haven’t improved over the past 30 years. Laser tracker measurement accuracy is now better than ever, with our flagship Leica Absolute Tracker AT960 operating to within just 15 microns over small distances when measuring with a retroreflector. Accuracy does of course decrease over greater measurement lengths as it becomes more difficult to accurately pinpoint a reflector position, but even at its full distance rating of 80 metres from the tracker unit, the AT960 can provide accuracy to within less than 500 microns.

Also high on the improvements list is portability, with both the Leica Absolute Tracker AT960 and the Leica Absolute Tracker AT403 easily movable and quick to setup and begin measuring. Whereas in previous decades transporting a laser tracker around a workshop was challenging enough, and moving one between operational sites was downright difficult, now it’s a simple one man job – both models fit within a single flight case, while a packed-up AT403 can even be carried as a backpack.

Modern laser trackers are also increasingly ruggedised and able to deal with the rough handling and challenging environments into which metrology is increasingly being asked to tread. Both the Leica Absolute Tracker AT960 and the Leica Absolute Tracker AT403 are fully IP54 certified, and both also boast an integrated MeteoStation system that ensures environmental conditions are effectively monitored and accounted for when analysing measurement results.

You get a better picture of how these systems work by giving this short video a watch. It’s a quick visual overview of how our current laser tracker technology functions, including the operation of the probing and scanning accessories that have greatly increased measurement productivity in recent years.

Daniel Moser

Daniel Moser is a Product Manager for the laser tracker product range at Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence. After gaining a Bachelor's Degree in Geomatics from FHNW in Switzerland, he joined the laser tracker team at Hexagon in 1995 and has since taken on a range of roles, from technical support to hardware and software project management. In 2002 he joined the Product Management team, and has since been responsible for the ongoing development of high-end laser tracker products and their 6DoF scanning and probing accessories.