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Rega amplify their quality control

ByDezember 1, 2017Case Studies

Rega Research Limited, manufacturers of high-end audio equipment invest in Vision Engineering’s inspection and measurement solutions to ensure their equipment continues to project its acclaimed acoustic excellence.

Rega Research Limited manufactures high-end audio equipment including award winning turntables, renowned throughout industry for superior quality.

Many of the components meticulously hand assembled to exacting specifications i.e. every tonearm built is hand assembled to the tightest tolerance using Rega designed tools and jigs. As technology evolves and precision becomes crucial to manufacturing success, Rega Research has invested in Vision Engineering’s inspection and measurement solutions, making sure their equipment continues to project its acclaimed acoustic excellence.

Rega Research Limited manufacture precision turntables, tonearms, integrated amplifiers, CD players, loud speakers and accessories. Founded in 1973, Rega Research Limited sees themselves as precision engineers of manufacturing high-end audio equipment.

In addition to producing over 2,000 turntables per month at their design and manufacture facility, Rega is also an OEM supplier of numerous arms on audiophile turntables. Now exporting to over 12 countries including Germany, Denmark, and France, Rega Research continue to invest heavily in R&D, which is how they can boast Product Of the Year – both 2013, 2014 and 2015 in ‘What Hi-Fi’ buyer’s guide for their turntables, stereo amplifiers, and accessories. In 2015 Rega Research Ltd received the Queen’s Award for Enterprise, and if that was not impressive enough, this followed with a UK Manufacturing Award.

For Rega Research Ltd. to have such devoted followers, precision is essential, and as Roy Gandy, Owner then explains, “We see ourselves as a precision-engineering manufacturing company” Steve Harris (2013).

With a clear understanding of the importance of precision in manufacturing, Rega Research Ltd. invest in the latest equipment to ensure their turntables meet with their high quality standards such as inspection and measuring solutions from Vision Engineering – another award-winning British manufacturer.

Investments in video inspection pays for itself

Utilising the latest technology in inspection, Rega Research Ltd. employ a range of solutions to solve different challenges, drawing on the inspection solutions from Vision Engineering Ltd. to inspect components such as magnet holders, screw adjusters, pivot pads, stylus guards, cantilevers, and copper wire which is 0.018mm in diameter.

In order to visually inspect the range of precision parts Rega utilise the VisionZ2 and Makrolite video inspection systems help to inspect the quality of the component, they have paid for themselves in one week, according to Simon Webster, Rega Research Ltd.

„Most of our suppliers are trusted suppliers and we have been working with for many years but it is always good to batch check samples as they arrive. On this particular occasion we had only just purchased the Makrolite inspection system and noticed a fault with one of our bought-in components. If it has not been picked up when it did and had been processed to the final stage of assembly, it would have been very expensive to correct because of the labour costs”.

Not only do Rega Research Ltd. utilise the inspection systems for quality control of supplied components, they are also utilised for part of the manufacturing process where Apheta moving coil cartridges are meticulously hand assembled using Vision Engineering’s inspection microscopes, each iron cross has the coils wound by hand on our purpose built winding jig.

Each process takes extreme levels of concentration and skill and only a handful of people ever achieve the required dexterity to successfully build such a complex assembly. Using the inspection systems in this way has transformed the way they work.

Another process where the digital inspection systems are used includes the crimping between 2 of the copper wires, eventually forming part of the internal wiring. Requiring ultimate accuracy, this process used to result in a 30% rejection rate due to the intensity and accuracy of the process whereby 2x 0.018mm copper wires need to be precisely aligned.

Now the video inspection system VisionZ2 is used for the process, the rejection rate has dropped substantially to the occasional rejection. Each turntable has 4 wires and averaging 4,000 turntables per month can result in significant cost savings, both in terms of productivity, accuracy and waste reduction.

Measurement and quality control

Measurement for quality control and  inspection has enabled Rega Research Limited to strive towards continual improvement in the manufacturing process. The Swift 2-axis video measuring system from Vision Engineering is used for both high magnification inspection and 2D measurement.

The copper coil or wire is weaved around a cross and it is essential the cross is free of burrs before this vital process is started. The crosses are batch inspected at high magnification to check they are burr free before the labour intensive process of winding is started. This is another preventative measure, potentially saving thousands in man hours if the parts are not up to specification / standards.

Primarily used for non-contact measurement, the Swift video system is utilised for measuring a catalogue of components including the stylus tip. As so many of the components are small precision parts, it is not as simple as picking up a caliper and achieving an accurate measurement, the parts are too small, too fine, or the angles make it hard to measure.

Rega Research places a large amount of trust in suppliers, and since using the Swift metrology system they can say with absolute certainty whether a component is out of tolerance and does not meet requirements. Simon Webster, Sales & Marketing

Co-ordinator at Rega explains:

We now have a catalogue of measurements of each part so they can be checked for accuracy, if just one measurement is not within stipulated tolerance it can have a huge impact on the way the finished turntable sounds, and even stop it working altogether. There is no room for error!”

Accurate measurement of the stylus tip

All components required to make Rega’s premium audio equipment are specified to exacting specifications including and especially the stylus tip.

The stylus tip consists of a micro diamond which is what interfaces with the record and tracks the groove on the record as it rotates. The micro diamond needs to be absolutely symmetrical so that it sits within the V-groove properly ensuring sound is distributed equally through both channels. Rega manufactures an average of 2,000 cartridges per month and each has to touch the vinyl with a perfectly symmetrical micro diamond for precision audio – as shown below.

Metallurgical observations ensuring quality coatings

In addition to all of the inspection and measurement processes undertaken at Rega, other quality control procedures are undertaken making sure every element meets with Rega’s high standards, down to the quality of the coating on the copper wire.

Rega are using a TIM5 metallurgical microscope from Vision Engineering to inspect and test the coatings on the copper wire, making sure they are optimised against corrosion. The TIM5 microscope enables engineers to use optical variations such as brightfield, darkfield, filters and flourescence to observe metal surfaces in detail, without the reflections distorting inspection. The image below shows the Copper wire setup for inspecting with the TIM5 metallurgical microscope.

From the intricacies of copper wire coating to the micro diamond, every aspect of their manufacture from hand assemblies to each and every component has been refined with continual improvement. Rega have continued to evolve and successfully manufacture precision engineered audio equipment such as their turntables that have won awards year one year.

Wise investments in key equipment and drawing previously outsourced work back in house has given back the control needed for both quality and quantity and has directly improved their production and delivery times.