The recent intensification of airborne-silica content in metalcasting workplaces has understandably increased metalcasters’ interest in new testing technologies, but in itself that’s not unusual. Process verification and product quality testing are nearly as long-standing as industrial metalcasting. The speed and scope of analytical technologies has shaped an ongoing advance of testing and quality-control technologies that rivals any industrial or even consumer sector. And metalcasting plants provide innumerable opportunities for testing.
Product testing, for example, is expected to keep up the pace of high-volume production for high-quality, highly engineered castings. Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence is offering a new technology called Global S HTA (high throughput and accuracy) for high-speed, non-contact measurement of parts like aerospace compressor blades. It extends an earlier iteration of the system, which delivered a cycle time that was between two and five times faster than traditional tactile measurement.
New software upgrades mean the Global S HTA reduces measurement cycle time by up to 30% on average. Software improvements include a three-step airfoil measurement routine, and eliminated processing wait times during measurement — both contributing to measurement cycle times.
The Global S HTA delivers high-density measurement data for airfoil geometry analysis using Hexagon’s HP-O non-contact scanning technology. Its advanced HP-O Multi optical scanning probe technology deploys frequency-modulated laser interferometry technology, to provide rapid non-contact scanning with sub-micron repeatability to verify the difficult blade characteristics, including knife edge, leading and trailing edges (LE/TE), 3D airfoil geometries, platform, root and shroud features.
“Aero engine manufacturers face growing pressure to increase throughput while maintaining high levels of measurement accuracy,” said Ken Frescoln, business development manager. “With new and improved enhancements, Global S HTA is the only dedicated compressor blade solution on the market to offer such a significant reduction in measurement cycle time, providing a new level of throughput to meet customer demand. Another bonus is its intuitive user interface, designed to help quality engineers quickly access and analyze the data they need to improve processes and operate more efficiently.”
Hexagon also is launching a 12-megapixel version of the AICON SmartScan R12, its white-light scanning system, bringing a higher level of resolution and accuracy to a system known for versatility and portability. It’s a fringe projection system for third-party metrology contractors whose equipment must support a range of applications and industries.
As the example of airborne silica shows, manufacturers must work to ascertain the health, safety, and environmental compliance of their plants and operations. Analytical Systems Keco introduced a water analyzer system with an enhanced method for analytically quantifying total hydrocarbons and volatile organic compounds (VOC) in cooling towers, heat exchangers, holding ponds, run-off water, and wastewater. The Model 204 Hydrocarbon VOC includes an exclusive sample transfer stripper and solid-state sensor to measures oil and VOCs directly in water — as opposed to the air around the water, a method that misses VOCs and results in non-alarm events. It also measures very low levels (parts per billion) to detect a small leak well before it becomes an environmental issue.
Testing processes and facilities may seem simple compared to evaluating processes — a discipline that lately has been addressed by machine vision technology. There is challenge to reducing data rates and performance requirements on systems without compromising data quality. Embedded 3D cameras (like the Ensenso XR series by IDS Imaging Development Systems) with integrated data processing are the next step.
In machine vision applications with 3D cameras that work according to the principle of spatial vision (stereo vision), camera images are processed with high resolution and frame rates in order to make result data available to further processes as quickly as possible. Calculating 3D data "point clouds" from stereo images requires several complex process steps for industrial PCs. With increasing quality and speed requirements for those data results, modern 3D stereo cameras use high-resolution 2D cameras with Gigabit Ethernet interfaces. Transmitting the 2D output data to the IPC requires optimal network bandwidth, to avoid time delays or data loss, and the IPC’s processing power must constantly increase in order not to restrict the overall system.
Thanks to exchangeable 2D cameras, the Ensenso XR series is not tied to specific data interfaces and sensor resolutions, and can continue to grow with the requirements for speed, object sizes, and quality. But high-resolution, fast GigE cameras, specially shielded cables, high-performance network technology and powerful PC hardware are simply too expensive for some applications. In addition, sufficient space must be available for these peripherals.
The Ensenso XR camera series follows the IoT principle in which individual components in a "distributed system" have specific tasks and produce results that can be used directly by other systems. In the case of a 3D camera, these are three-dimensional coordinates of pixels of a real object.