Theodolite, a measuring instrument, which has been used to measure angles in the vertical and horizontal planes for the past couple of decades is likely to face competition from a new laser tracker technology. Modern theodolite finds widespread application in geological surveying and construction activities. In recent years, its use in meteorology and aerospace has also increased considerably. A theodolite consists of a movable telescopic lens fixed within two perpendicular axes: the zenith axis and the trunnion axis or the horizontal axis. Theodolite allows more precise measuring of the angles of each of these axes of the targeted objects. A new report published by Fact.MR projects that the global theodolite market will reach a valuation of more than US$ 300 Mn by 2022-end.
Construction, aircraft manufacturing, and architecture are some of the sectors where theodolite has been used for years. As such, the construction industry is the largest contributor to the growth of the global theodolite market. Also, advances in the equipment design and functionality have further expanded its industrial application in multiple fields. Of these applications, theodolite remains an important instrument in aircraft manufacturing but designing larger aircraft structures such as fuselages, vertical stabilizer and wings continue to be challenging despite using the instrument. The instrument has its limitation and can only be useful to a certain extent. To begin with, theodolites where not intended for aircraft building, however, their high accuracy measurement capabilities have served well to aircraft manufacturers.
The constant evolution of design and improving aircraft technology has now created requirements for even more precise measuring, beyond the capacity of theodolites. Modern aircrafts require high precision right from component to overall structural design, as they continue to become larger with the passing time, hence they are needed to be crafted carefully. Detailing is a must in aircraft manufacturing, even a small error can potentially lead to great mischiefs such as decreased range and increased drag. This has also resulted in the development of joint-less designs that can facilitate smoother transitions. Though theodolite measurements are usually precise, they are subject to the elucidation and may not be reproducible at times. Theodolites may lag and be using them may require several days to measure a few hundred points, bearing in mind the density of obstructions.
Seemingly, the aircraft manufacturing industry is gracing a new laser tracker technology viewed to have a higher precision level and which offers much rapid and reproducible measuring over longer distances as compared to theodolites. In addition, this new technology as is capable of measuring a wide area is a couple of hours. The laser tracker shouldered aside theodolites and supplements the overall measuring capacity. It certainly creates a new portal for aircraft design allowing manufacturers to achieve greater satisfaction. A faster measuring rate of laser tracker allows engineers to take dimensional snapshots of a project while making incremental changes to a model. This new technology is anticipated to improve aircraft modeling, quality checking, component and tool making.
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