Inspec Insights

CMM Retrofit vs. Buying a New or Used Machine

Aside from needing a different size CMM, refurbishing your current CMM is usually a smart choice.  The basic design of CMM structures haven’t really changed since the 80’s and drive systems are largely unchanged since the early 2000’s.  In addition, most systems rarely wear to the point of actually needing replacement.  By retrofitting your current machine, you’ll save money, improve your capabilities and have a like-new machine.

Areas for upgrades include scales, controllers and software.

Modern Scales –
Symptoms that might lead you to replacing your CMM scales are faults that reference position errors, scale errors, custom chip rate errors and other similar errors.  By replacing the scales you’ll probably increase their resolution and this alone will likely give your CMM a ‘like new” feel.  Also, most new scales have diagnostic LED lights that to allow you to troubleshoot scale errors, increase up time and save money on repairs.

Neutral Controller –
a small piece of equipment that can have a big impact. Depending on your CMM’s motors, there are multiple options for neutral controllers that work with the majority of CMM software packages and CMM bases.  Neutral controllers are also one of the best ways to take charge of your lab and take back your ability to make choices.  Choices such as:

  • Software packages: Which one is on your machine or even having multiple software packages on your CMM allows you to have flexibility to serve your customers.If your customer wants you to use the software or even the exact program they’re using, a neutral controller can give you that flexibility.

  • Hardware negotiations: If the OEMs know you are structurally married to them, you’ll have little chance in negotiating a truly good price.

  • Programmer: In the event that you have to hire a new CMM programmer and they know another software, having the option of using that other software could keep your inspection lab running with little down time.

  • Service choices: A neutral controller will allow you to use anyone to service your CMM, ensuring the best service at competitive prices.

It’s Inspec’s experience that most of our customers encounter a shorter ROI by neutralizing their controller.

Software: Some of the most powerful, simple and cost-effective software solutions are the ones that ‘play well with others’.  Two solutions which have a good track record of being easy to use and provide great service are CMM Manager and PolyWorks.  In many cases, the new and existing software can run side by side so you can keep your legacy part programs too.  The biggest software players keep their working details under wraps which marries you to them.  If you’re not married to a solution, choosing the right software allows you to shop for better service and prices.  Already married?  Contact Inspec to get the best price on new or refurbished CMMs that will work with your current software.   

Another potential benefit of purchasing new software, or a new or refurbished CMM is that it may qualify as a tax deduction under section 179*.

There are lots of things to consider when upgrading, replacing or even adding another CMM to your shop.  Hopefully this article will assist you in making that decision.  Inspec is always available to help review your current situation and plan for the future.  Schedule your assessment today by calling 800-246-7094 or  You can also visit our website at

 *Every tax situation is unique and there are limits and exclusions.  For more information about Section 179 contact your tax advisor.

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