Thursday, December 15, 2016

Tool of the Week - Blankenhorn Depth Gauge

***Tool of the Week 

Yesterday a piece of equipment that we’ve long been wanting finally arrived. Many of you are aware of and have seen the optical comparator that’s sitting on our office floor (we’re now close to having a stand for it so that it can be put in the factory), but as advanced as that machine is, it’s only one part of the measuring process. It can measure distances and angles on a 2D plane, but can’t measure depth. The new Blankenhorn Depth Gauge that arrived yesterday allows us to do just that.

The depth gauge is an instrument consisting of two components; a mechanical micrometre dial indicator and the highly polished granite base table which holds both the part and the indicator.

We spent a good part of yesterday testing the machine, measuring all sorts of parts and pieces (human hair included), and were thoroughly impressed by it. It’s easy to use and has both high precision and repeatability. What’s especially interesting is that it’s purely mechanic - like our watches - and yet is capable of micron-level precision greater than many more expensive digital means.

Prior to purchasing the Blankenhorn Depth Gauge, we had been searching for a similar piece for some time, and it was by sheer chance alone that Nick and Josh discovered the brand. When they were visiting the machining fair in Germany just two months ago, Blankenhorn’s small booth was tucked away to the left at the entrance to the fair. They almost walked right by them as did most attendees, but being in no rush and having endeavoured to check out every booth possible, they decided to walk on over.

They based their purchase on first impressions alone, the representatives of the company convincing them of the quality of their products and that several large watch manufacturers, IWC included, use them. Neither Nick or Josh had heard of the company before, nor could they verify the veracity of the representatives’ claims, but Nick decided to take a leap of faith and went ahead regardless.

And he’s glad he did. Our expectations were well and truly exceeded, the depth gauge not only measuring just as it should, but also being extremely well made; something that’s not always a given. It’s clearly built to last. German engineering at its best.

The calibration certificate that came with the gauge was issued from a third party AQRAT calibration laboratory, located in Esslingen in Germany, which is a nice touch. We’ll almost certainly need more measuring equipment as we move into part manufacturing, and we now know where we’ll be looking first.

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