Milestones

LK is the oldest CMM manufacturer in the world. LK Tool Company Limited was founded in Derby, England in 1963 by Norman Key (former Rolls Royce engineer) and Jim Lowther (Norman’s father-in-law). It was a supplier of granite inspection tooling to the engineering industry and then became the innovator of the “Bridge Type” multi-axis coordinate measuring machine. LK started operating in the United States in 1983, capturing a large part of the automotive market for high volume production inspection systems. Since then, LK Metrology has been designing, manufacturing, and deploying CMMs throughout the world.

1963

Foundation

Founded by Norman Key, a former Rolls-Royce engineer, LK (formerly named as LK Tool) were a supplier of granite inspection tooling and inspection components to the engineering industry. ​
The name LK was formed by using the initials of Jim Lowther, his father-in-law and owner of Notsa Engineering, and Normans surname, Key.​

First Manual CMM

The first LK Maxi-Check manual CMM was supplied to Rolls-Royce Bristol.

1969
1971

Complete System

LK continued to expand the size of Coordinate Measuring Machines and became the first manufacturer to offer a system complete with mini-computer and in-house written inspection software.

First Touch-Trigger Probe

LK worked in partnership with Rolls-Royce developing the now industry standard Renishaw Touch-Trigger Probe.
Norman Key worked with the Chairman of Renishaw, Dave McMurtry and ordered the first 10 probes to fit to the Maxi-Check CMM replacing the original solid probes. Notice how these first probes carried the LK logo.

1972
1974

Expansion in Derby (UK)

After the move to its current Derby site, LK purchased the company Control Systems from Rolls-Royce.
First Motorised/CNC Maxi Check CMM
The first motorised or CNC Maxi-Check machine was supplied to LK’s first overseas customer in Sweden.

Largest Moving Bridge CMM

LK manufactured the world’s largest moving bridge co-ordinate measuring machine to inspect Mini Metro bodies at Rover Longbridge, England. Interestingly, this machine is still used to inspect car bodies to this day after many upgrades.

1975
1975
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First Horizontal Spindled CMM

LK designed and developed the world’s first horizontal spindled CMM named Metre 4. This machine incorporated a granite spindle. The first machine was sold to Rolls-Royce Hucknall in Nottinghamshire, England.

New LK MICRO 4

The ‘little brother’ to the LK Metre 4, the LK Micro 4 was introduced. The first machine was infact manufactured by Leicester based, British United Shoe Machine Co. Ltd.

1976
1977

1st Bridge CMM With Granite Slideways

LK manufactured the world’s first bridge machine incorporating all granite slideways. Replacing the Maxi-Check, the Granite 80 (or G80 as it was called) stayed in manufacture until it was superseded by firstly the ‘G80HA’ and then the ‘Axiom’ range some 12 years later.

Large Granote Bridge CMM

A large all granite bridge style CMM was sold to I.U.G in Romania with a measuring volume of 9m x 3m x 2m.
This granite table was so large, two individual tables had to be mated and epoxy bonded  together using a special LK developed process.

1980
1980
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First Carbon Fibre Spindled CMM

LK introduced another world’s first, the Carbon Fibre spindled Micro 4. This high accuracy horizontal arm machine was ideal for car body measurement.

The Micro 4 was redesigned incorporating all granite slideways and all air-bearing construction.

1981
1982-3

LK US

LK moved into the American market with the formation of LK Tool USA Inc. initially based in Chicago and then moving on to Phoenix.
A second USA location was opened in 1983 in Flint, Michigan to service the Automotive Industry.

Acquisition by Cincinnati Milacron

Following 21 years as a private company, LK were bought out by the machine tool manufacturer Cincinnati Milacron. Cincinnati wanted to incorporate measurement into their FMS along with their machine tools.

1984
1984
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Ford purchased Twin Column CMM

The Ford Motor Company ordered two high speed ‘Twin Column’ Micro 4 CMM’s with automated part loading systems.

LK supplies to General Motors

LK were chosen as a preferred supplier of co-ordinate measuring machines for General Motors. Over 50 machines were supplied between 1984 and 1987.

1985
1986

Largest Twin-Bridge CMM for Boeing

Boeing ordered the world’s largest twin-bridge machine for the measurement of 747 wing structures. This machine, being too large for manufacture in-house, was built at the British Rail Engineering workshops in Derby.

Queen’s Award

Following continuing success in the world market, LK were awarded the Queen’s Award for Export.

1988
1989

LK Axiom

Again, LK were leading the world with it’s use of materials technology and the Axiom range of ceramic spindle machines were introduced.

First CF90 CMM with Ceramic, Invar and Carbon Fibre

Another first for LK: the CF90 machine range was introduced. This machine was designed as a truly thermally stable machine utilising Ceramic, Invar and Carbon Fibre in its construction.
The first two machines were sold to GM in Buick City and Hamtrack in the USA. This machine was designed and developed to meet the GM specification for speed, accuracy and shop-floor use.

1989
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1991

Ultrasonic NDT Inspection Machines

With the Aerospace Industry using more carbon fibre components, LK introduced the Ultrasonic NDT inspection machines to test for de-lamination.

LK acquired by Transtec

LK were bought by a Birmingham based group of companies, TransTec, led by then local Member of Parliament and businessman, Geoffrey Robinson

1992
1993

HC-90

The re-designed Micro/Metre 4 horizontal arm machines, re-named the HC90, were introduced with a four column machine installed at Rover Longbridge in Birmingham, England.
In the same year, LK Tool USA Inc were relocated in a new facility in Brighton, Michigan.

Introduction of G-90C Range

The Axiom range of bridge machines were re-designed with ceramic beam and spindle components and introduced as the G-90C range.

1994
1995

LK G90K and G-90C

Another first for LK, the G90K was redesigned using an ‘H’ section ceramic beam and ceramic spindle.
The manufacturing process for the bridge utilised specialist bonding technology for the assembly of the beam.
The first machine was supplied to Argentina (Fric Rot Automotive) and now LK’s global presence covers 37 countries.

FMS CMM and LK HK office

Automation reached new heights with the installation of five fully integrated FMS CMM’s in CDC. 
LK world support continued to grow with the opening of the LK Hong Kong office.

1996
1997

CAMIO Software

CMM programming was revolutionised with the use of CAD data. LK introduced the first release of the now world famous CAMIO software incorporating full DMIS support.
Based upon Spatial Technologies ACIS solid modelling kernel, CAMIO software offered both on-line and off-line programming capability.

ULTRA Range

Increasing the machine portfolio, LK introduced the Ultra range of high accuracy bridge machines. Competing with Lietz and Zeiss, the Ultra offered standards room accuracy at a reduced cost.

1998
1999

LK LY90S Horizontal Arm CMM

Introducing yet another machine range, the LY90S Layout style of horizontal arm machines was released.

.

Acquistion By Schroders,
The ownership of LK changed. Schroders, one of the worlds largest investment brokers, bought the company from TransTec.

1999
2000

LK4000 Controller

Machine controllers form an important part of the measuring system. The advent of continuous contact probing led LK to introduce the LK4000 controller. Controlling up to 9 axis, the LK4000 supported a new range of analogue probes from Renishaw.

CAMIO STUDIO-INSPECT

After 5 years of continuous growth in the CAMIO software, a new product CAMIO Studio-Inspect introduced a new user-friendly interface with enhanced programming capability. This software paved the way for future-proofing the inspection software from LK.

2002
2003

New Evolution & Integra CMM

LK celebrated 40 years of metrology expertise.
Incorporating all this knowledge into the machine design saw the bridge range of machines improved and the Evolution and Integra machines were born, both offering an unprecedented 10 year structural guarantee.

14 machines for Land Rover

Land Rover placed an order for 14 car body machines for the quality control of the new Discovery.

2003
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2004

LK G-90C & LK Ascent Production in China

LK form a joint venture with Chinese company SMTC to produce CMM machines in China.
Shanghai Measuring and Cutting Tool Works begin to produce the LK G-90C range and also the new granite based LK Ascent.

LK PT Scan

LK enter the automotive powertrain market to compete against Zeiss and the fixed probe.
Primarily designed for the USA market, the PT Scan machine was an evolution of the Ultra offering high-speed analogue scanning, but with volumetric accuracy as low as 1.4+L/500.

2005
2006

Acquisition by Metris

LK CMM’s were added to the Metris portfolio of non-contact inspection solutions in order to provide a full CMM laser scanning solution, including service and support, to compliment the existing range of Metris scanners.

LK Libero

LK Libero replaces the PT Scan offering improved accuracy,  repeatability and speed performance for powertrain measurement

2007
2008

LK Supplies The Widest CMM

LK supply, what is still thought to be at 6m, the widest CMM ever manufactured. With a working volume of 6m x 6m x 3m, this massive CMM still manages to achieve accuracies of less than 5 microns due entirely to the design and ceramic material technology that has been the trademark of LK for over 20 years.

Nikon takeover Metris

Metris is acquired by Japanese giant, Nikon Corporation.
The LK CMM enters into it’s next new era after the acquisition of Metris by Nikon Corporation, Japan.
Nikon wanted to diversify it’s Instruments Division into full 3D measurement with an emphasis on non-contact metrology.

2009
2010

CAMIO 7

LK CAMIO software enters into its 7th generation of development. With full simulation, collision detection and multi-sensor support, CAMIO is proving to be the forerunner in multi-sensor DMIS programming

LK ALTERA Range

The LK Altera replaces the small volume Integra model. With a major re-design incorporating improved performance, productivity and reliability, the Altera is the first fully Nikon branded CMM.

2012
2013

LK Celebrates 50 Years

The LK brand reaches 50 years of age. After 50 years of development, the LK CMM has come a long way since the early days of fixed probe and solid granite construction.

NMC100 & NMC 300

LK controllers update to the latest electronics with the introduction of the NMC300 and the NMC100

2014
2015

LK ALTERA for Turbine Blade Inspection

LK Altera CMM machines are selected by American aircraft engine manufacturer for turbine blade inspection.

Twin-Probe Solution

LK design and develop a twin-probe solution for >1.2m deep bore measurement using SP80 and PH10M probe heads for laser/touch probe measurement

2016
2017

LK ALTERA M Replaces Evolution & Libero

The LK Altera M replaces the Evolution and Libero models. The Evolution and Libero also get a re-design incorporating many of the successful innovations from the Altera S, and continue to showcase LK as a world-competing CMM brand.

Acquistion By ASF Metrology

After Nikon decided to concentrate on non-contact technology, ASF Metrology owner Angelo Muscarella seized the opportunity to purchase the CMM division from Nikon and lead the newly created LK Metrology into it’s next exciting chapter…

2018
2018
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5-axis Solution: SCANTEK5

LK introduce Scantek5 with Renishaw Revo-2 scanning system and multisensor technology to offer 5-axis solution.

Multisensor Compact CMM: ALTERA C

LK launch its budget CMM, maintaining its unique 10-year accuracy guarantee. LK also introduce a new version of its CAMIO software, 8.5, designed to raise productivity in the inspection department, improve the quality of data collected, reduce measuring cycle times and accelerate time to market for new products. 

2019
2019
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LK China New Tech Centre

LK China opened its New Tech Centre in Shanghai (China), LK Europe opened its office in Turin (Italy) and LK US relocated to its new premises in New Hudson in Michigan.

Freedom Portable Measuring Arms

LK Metrology has for the first time diversified into the supply of 3D articulating arm metrology systems with the launch of a range of 24 portable measuring arms called “FREEDOM”, offering a 6-axis model for touch probing and a 7-axis version for multi-sensor metrology including laser scanning.

2020
2020
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LK Launch Contract CMM Inspection Service

Located in the new North American Technical Center, LK US built a new CMM Measurement Services Department for performing contract dimensional inspection using the latest metrology software with state-of-the-art multi-sensor technology applied to the newest LK Metrology CMM designs.

LK StyliCleaner

LK launch a new product to the marketplace – the LK StyliCleaner – an automated stylus tip cleaning system.

2021