Although many industry commentators have been pushing buying coordinate measuring machines and other metrology equipment as the only way to stay ahead of the competition in the manufacturing industry, that does not mean that shops need to rush out to purchase the newest and latest equipment around. There have been considerable advancements over the years in software, probing systems, laser scanners, and machines that can handle the rigors of the shop floor environment, but by and large coordinate measuring machines have not changed mechanically in quite some time. They can last up to 35 years with the right maintenance and the occasional retrofit, and periodic computer and software upgrades can keep up with contemporary standards for precision. 

Depending on its vintage and your plan for retrofitting, you could get a number of years out of a used coordinate measuring machine, and given the cost of a new one, that can mean a considerably better ROI than buying new. When you crunch the numbers to determine your best course of action, do not neglect to take into account the cost of training operators and potentially upgrading a machine’s software.

To see a large catalogue of some of the used coordinate measuring machines available today, take a look at to compare models and find one that matches your precision and range requirements. Before making your purchase, these are some of the things you should avoid during your search and other qualities that can definitely help you find a quality measurement instrument.


Things to avoid:

  1. Auctions – Although you may have heard reports of shops buying coordinate measuring machines at very low prices at auction, auctioneers offer no guarantees or protections, and the unexpected costs can throw a wrench in your budget.
  1. Missing computers – Often, auctioneers who do not understand metrology equipment sell the computers separately, which can be a real setback to getting your new measuring instrument up and running.
  1. Self-installation – The cost of installation can be considerable when you buy from an auction, as you’re essentially left to figure it out yourself, whereas a vendor can offer turnkey delivery that includes calibration and verification once it’s in your shop.

Qualities to look for:

  1. Thorough inspection – Reputable vendors put all of their used CMM equipment through an exhaustive inspection that includes repairing and replacing any unsatisfactory part. Before you purchase used equipment, if you can’t visit the piece in person, at least ask to see a video of it in action.
  1. Guarantee – While it may be difficult to get a warranty on a second hand instrument, vendors should provide a guarantee that the equipment will function according to your agreement upon installation in your shop.
  1. MDNA membership – Members of the Machinery Dealers National Association like CMM(Canadian Measurement Metrology) adhere to a code of ethics that includes honoring all options they provide to the buyer, a promise to respond to all inquiries and advertise accurately, and the option to return within 30 days for a refund or repair if the piece does not work mechanically. Membership is a sign that you’re dealing with a credible vendor who will make sure you wind up with the measurement solution your shop needs to compete.

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