AUGUST 18--Says Volker Pape, chairman of the executive committee of the machine-vision group in the German Engineering Federation (VDMA; www.vision.de): "The traditional application area for machine vision is still quality assurance." According to the latest industry survey in 2003, it accounted for a good 44% of turnover.
The enormous importance of quality assurance will be highlighted at VISION 2004, International Trade Fair for Machine Vision and Identification Technologies, being held in Stuttgart from 19 to 21 October 2004. Manufacturers such as Vitronic will, for example, present the latest generation of machine-vision systems for "robot-guided 3-D weld-seam testing of car parts." "Reliable assessment of weld-seam quality is highly relevant, especially with safety-related parts," say the experts from Vitronic. Using the 3-D system, single- or multilayer weld seams can be checked for defects such as holes, pores, insufficient seam height, and edge notches at a better cost-to-performance ratio.
OCTUM electronic GmbH will present a new system for objective quality testing of display and control elements for cars and commercial vehicles. Their function, design, and assembly accuracy are closely examined. Display elements are adjusted by means of photos, and a large number of test steps and imprints or lasered symbols are examined right down to the smallest possible defects.
Automatic inspection of surfaces is regarded as a highly complex task and is a subarea of quality assurance. It can be divided into two main areas: surface inspection of discrete parts and tools and surface inspection of endless material such as paper, plastic film or steel strips. According to an industry survey conducted by the VDMA, the first area accounts for around 14% of machine vision turnover and the second area just under 10%.
"The prime objective of surface inspection is to avoid visible defects altogether," stresses Patrick Schwarzkopf, head of the VDMA, "because the customer simply expects this." Perfect surface quality is, for example, a decisive competitive factor for manufacturers of endless material such as steel, aluminum, and paper.
Basler AG will present a new high-performance line camera with 8160 pixels. There is demand to develop continuously higher resolutions, especially in surface inspection, since the cameras should discover increasingly smaller defects.
As has been shown, the range of applications of surface inspection is extremely wide: they include semiconductor wafers, wood, textiles, CDs, and glass through to many applications in the car industry. ISRA VISION SYSTEMS AG is committed to flawless paint surfaces. "In every sector of industry, painting is still one of the work processes most prone to defects. Up until recently, paint inspection could not be reliably automated," says Walter Meyer, marketing manager at ISRA VISION SYSTEMS. "It was therefore a high cost and risk factor." Apart from the car industry, newly developed, fully automatic in-line paint inspection systems are now proving their worth all over the world in many other industries, for example "white goods" or the sanitary industry.