The Only Truly American

Coordinate Measuring Machine Manufacturer

HELMEL ENGINEERING PRODUCTS, INC. is located at 6520 Lockport Road in the Town of Niagara, just outside of Niagara Falls and a few miles from the Canadian border. This location has strategic advantages since the three important industrial cities of Rochester, Buffalo and Toronto can be reached within 1 1/2 hours. The airports of Toronto and Buffalo provide easy access to any airport in North America, Europe and the Pacific Rim, important for increased international sales and service. The thruway entrance is only two miles away.

Helmel Engineering is engaged in the design, manufacture, sales and service of coordinate measuring machines (CMMs) and related software. They are built mainly for the manufacturing industry in the automotive, aerospace and business machine sector and for tool and die shops, moldmakers, machine and fabricating shops, stamping houses, etc. Practically anyone having to verify a physical part to dimensions on a blueprint to a high degree of accuracy is a potential customer. A complete line of Bridge style machines are offered for manual and automatic operation. Our proprietary mechanical bearing system makes our machines well suited for production floor applications where high reliability is required.

Helmel Engineering occupies over 26,000 square feet of manufacturing and office space. The building sits on 5 acres of industrial property owned by the company. This facility is air conditioned with the exception of the storage and loading areas. The extensive machine tool park includes several fair sized machining centers and three large surface grinders with a length capacity of 134". Surface grinding to a very high degree of straightness is a specialty of Helmel Engineering and probably few, if any, companies could match this with the required consistency. This capability enables Helmel to build intrinsically accurate CMMs. Most operations to manufacture the above machines are performed in house i.e., milling, turning, drilling, welding, painting, measuring and assembly. The electronic cabinet, which is part of the motorized machine, is also assembled in house. The measuring machines are calibrated with a laser before shipment. Field installations and training are performed by in-house technicians and engineers. Full employment in this facility is around 25.

Specialty components such as; granite plates, precision bearings, optical measuring systems, computers, digital readouts, motors and controllers that are part of the measuring machine are purchased from reliable vendors. Helmel Engineering has developed a genuine relationship with most of its suppliers; some go back to 1973.

Helmel Engineering participates and has always participated in most of the relevant industrial exhibitions i.e., the IMTS and Quality Expo in Chicago, WESTEC in Los Angeles and several local SME shows. The majority of the sales are accomplished through independent dealerships. Most of these are in the USA, but we also have representation in Canada, Mexico, Korea, Turkey, Israel, India, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong. Machines have also been delivered to countries of Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Denmark, Sweden and China. The deliveries to China were based on Helmel's reputation for reliability.

Background

HELMEL ENGINEERING PRODUCTS, INC. began as the Helmel Engineering Co. in March of 1973 in Rochester, NY. It was involved in the design of automatic assembly lines for General Motors and performed general custom machine work for companies such as Kodak and Xerox.

Early in its existence, the Helmel Engineering Co. developed and began manufacture of the CHECKMASTER Coordinate Measuring Machine. It consistently increased in sales and popularity to the point that it was the only product and service offered by the company.

The Helmel Engineering Co. was incorporated in 1977 as Helmel Engineering Products, Inc. It continued operations in Rochester, NY until January of 1980 when it relocated to its own newly constructed facility in Niagara Falls, NY. The original 8,000 square foot building was expanded in 1984. This 10,000 square foot addition included a high-bay area with a crane to handle heavy granite surface plates, enabling the company to build larger measuring machines. A new 4400 square foot office addition was built in 1988. It contains, among other features, a larger Demonstration Room, Training Area and Conference Room.

In the early 1980’s, Helmel Engineering developed its own basic software package operating on HP equipment. For for high end measuring machines it purchased the well known GEOMET Inspection Software System on an OEM basis from Multi-Metrics Inc. in Redwood City, California. It was the first full 3-D CMM Software developed in the U.S. In early 1986 Helmel Engineering had the opportunity to purchase the software division from Multi-Metrics.

GEOMET SYSTEMS Division of Helmel Engineering was formed, taking over the development of the software. This allowed Helmel Engineering to expand its business and also diversify by directly entering the retrofit market, namely putting GEOMET software on competitive coordinate measuring machines.

The group was moved to San Carlos, close to the San Francisco Airport. Here, GEOMET Systems developed motion control software for computer driven full automatic coordinate measuring machines which was launched on the newly designed Microstar in 1987. The drive system used advanced linear motors, a novelty in the industry

The California office of GEOMET was closed in 1994 in order to move control of the development to corporate headquarters in Niagara Falls, New York.

The software was rewritten in the Visual C++ language with Windows incorporating all the time proven features and algorithms of GEOMET into the new version. This was painful but, in the end, a successful undertaking. A stripped down version, Geomet Junior, is offered free with the purchase of any manual system in the complete line.

The PcMM, a smaller and reliable DCC measuring machine for the shop floor, followed the Microstar in 1992. It was later replaced by the present day Phoenix line. The Phoenix RB, launched in early 2009, was the first motorized CMM in the U.S. market for under $20,000.00.

Since Renishaw introduced the electronic tough trigger probe to the CMM market in the early 1970’s, Helmel Engineering has kept pace with integrating all their newly developed products into its CMM lines up to the sophisticated, motorized PH20 Head in 2011. The Checkmasters and Microstars have been redesigned and improved over the time to maintain functionality, our well known reliability and, therefore, competitiveness.

A new office was opened in Orange, California in 2005 to promote west coast sales with the added services of installation, training, calibration and support. There are 5 CMM’s for demonstration and application studies. Support for Pacific Rim dealers also comes from this office.

Major CMM Launch Dates:

1987 - DCC Microstar

2002 - Phoenix Line

1990 - L-Bridge Microstar

2006 - Microgage

1992 - PcMM (Replaced)

2009 - Phoenix RB

1994 - Crankshaft CMM for GM

2011 - Cellmaster

Products and Services

  • CHECKMASTER Manual ONLY, 12" x 12" x 10" and 16" x 20" x 14"
  • MICROGAGE small high accuracy machine 8” x 12” x 8” DCC ONLY
  • PHOENIX DCC ONLY, 12" x 12" x 10" and 16" x 20" x 14"
  • MICROSTAR Manual and DCC measuring machine 25" x 20" x 16" through 120" x 60" x 40"
  • SMM Manual Shaft measuring machine 20" x 6" through 60" x 6", 7" swing
  • AXIUM fully automatic (DCC) Crankshaft Checking Machines
  • Specialty measuring machines or variations of the above
  • GEOMET, full 3-D inspection software, Windows based
  • GEOMET Junior, a basic economical package of the above
  • Statistical Package
  • Inspection Service
  • Software Service Contracts
  • Machine Calibration
  • In-house and Field Training
  • Software Retrofit System

Checkmaster , Geomet and Microstar are registered Trademarks of Helmel Engineering Products, Inc.

The Chart below shows the steadiness of Helmel Engineering. In 1973, when Helmel started, there were ten brands of CMMs marketed in the U.S. of which 8 were domestic and 2 foreign. Meanwhile some measuring machine manufacturers closed their doors and some sold their CMM line or took them off the market. The sale of Brown & Sharpe leaves Helmel as the only original owner in 2001.

 

Company 1973 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 2005 Beyond
B&S 2001
Sold to
Hexagon
Bendix 1981
Sold to
Cross Trekker
1990
Sold to
G&L
1997
Sold to
Theissen
2000
Back to
G&L /
Sheffield
2004
Sold to
Hexagon
Boice Sold to
Federal
1991
Closed
     
DEA 1990
Sold to
B&S
2000
Sold to
Hexagon
Ferranti 1990
Closed
1992
Sold to IMS
     
Hansford 1986
Sold to
Starrett
2005
Sold to
Sheffield
Helmel
Portage 1977
Sold to
Bendix
1983
Closed
           
Potter 1974
Closed
               
Shelton 1977
Closed