Glass powder sorted by vision system
Automation consultancy Innomech (Ely, UK) is developing a high-throughput image inspection system that will enable a UK glass manufacturer to improve the quality of its products.
Glass manufacturer Cera Dynamics (Stoke-on-Trent, UK) uses proprietary wet and dry-grinding and spray-drying systems to produce glass powders with customized particle-size down to sub-micron levels and in quantities from 1 kg upwards.
The glass frit, or powder, is used in a variety of industries -- such as the encapsulation of nuclear waste -- where absolute quality, consistency and sizing of the product is paramount.
Cera Dynamics called upon Innomech to develop and automated system to inspect the glass powder and to remove any out of specification material prior to it being shipped to a customer.
The Innomech system uses a vibratory feeder with a 200 kg capacity to spread the powdered material onto a moving belt, which is then illuminated under white light. The powder is then imaged with a linescan camera fitted with a color filter to detect any over-sized particles. The particle stream is carefully lit to avoid any potential false rejections caused from refracted light or reflections.
Out of specification particles are then automatically removed from the bulk powder as it passes over a series of pneumatically-powered diverters. The machine’s capacity is 100 kg per hour, whereas the current manual process is limited to 25 kg per hour.
"The new machine has been specifically designed to be easy to clean, so we can quickly move from inspecting one specialist glass type to another, minimize lead times and further improve our overall manufacturing efficiency," says Mike Jones, Managing Director of Cera Dynamics.
-- by Dave Wilson, Senior Editor, Vision Systems Design