Real-time quality inspection of adhesive beads with uEye LE board level cameras
Bonding has become a key technology in the modern automotive industry. According to the Industrieverband Klebstoffe e.V. (adhesives industry association), a car today contains around 15 - 18 kg of adhesive and runs through dozens of gluing systems during production. Bonding is becoming more and more a new alternative to welding, screwing or riveting. The reasons are simple: safety and economy. But to be able to guarantee this, a high-precision adhesive and sealant application is necessary. The French company AKEOPLUS has developed the AkeoBI sensor that checks adhesive beads in real time directly on the production line and thus ensures 100% quality in material deposition.
In crash tests, vehicles with a high adhesive content usually perform best. This is because the parts to be bonded are not negatively affected during bonding. Welding generates heat, which can influence the materials used and their properties. Screws cause holes. Glue, on the other hand, bonds without material changes - a real safety factor. Adhesive systems are now used in both engine and body construction. They securely connect sheet metal to each other or fix car windows in the corresponding frames, thus ensuring high rigidity of the body. The latter also guarantees a high potential for energy savings. A prerequisite for strong connections and also for sealing, however, is the exact application of the adhesive beads in all bonding processes, especially with safety-relevant parts. They must be dispensed at all locations in the same quality - even in corners and curves.
Error minimization and traceability
AkeoBI, is an intelligent production tool, developed by AKEOPLUS, that helps to guarantee 100% quality of material deposition. The sensor inspects all types of beads in real time directly on the assembly line - whether glue, mastic, silicone or foam. Mounted on adhesive guns on fixed bolts on the assembly line or directly on the robot arm of the bonding system, special algorithms check bead width, continuity and position and detect any surplus or lack of material with an accuracy of +/- 0.5 mm. This all happens at a speed of 450 mm per second.
Due to its compact dimensions of only 170 mm x 50 mm and its low weight of 1.5 kg, AkeoBI can be integrated into almost any production plant. The system can be individually configured to meet the requirements of various applications. A central unit can, for example, carry out the inspection with two sensors simultaneously or only trigger random checks.
AKEOPLUS enables the detection of defective material applications on the basis of previously stored criteria by means of a specially programmed powerful software - clearly visualised for the user on the associated user interface. A report on each part checked is available immediately after each inspection. The operator can immediately locate faults and quickly correct them without interrupting production. This prevents unnecessary downtime, ensures traceability and increases production reliability.
3 high-resolution cameras with 360° panoramic view
Three high-resolution industrial cameras provide the images on which the inspection is based and also provide AkeoBI with a 360° panoramic view of the components to be inspected. High-performance LEDs directly in the sensor provide the necessary illumination. The GigE uEye LE cameras from IDS Imaging Development Systems used here are each equipped with a 1.3 megapixel CMOS sensor from e2v. Besides their outstanding light sensitivity, these GigE board level cameras also have a range of other distinctive features: The sensor of the UI-5241LE offers, for example, two global and rolling shutter variants that can be switched during operation, thus enabling maximum flexibility for changing requirements and environmental conditions. In addition, a maximum of four Areas of Interest are available. This allows either several characteristics to be checked simultaneously or the AOIs to be captured in an exposure series with different parameters. The camera model is therefore particularly suitable for space-critical inspection tasks in quality assurance.
The speed of these compact industrial cameras was also ideally suited to the requirements of AKEOPLUS. The price-performance ratio as well as the IDS software suite - with the IDS typical plug & play capabilities - were also decisive criteria. "The efficient programming interface of the IDS Software Suite enabled us to configure the camera accurately and easily. Indeed we were able to test and define precisely pixel format, image size, frequency and all necessary features in advance. The images are then processed by the camera software. Start, stop and frequency of acquisition are precisely controlled thanks to the high performance of the IDS camera manager," explains Thibaud Cheippe, developer at AKEOPLUS.
More than 100 AkeoBI sensors are already in use worldwide, e.g. at the French automobile manufacturer Groupe PSA, who owns the brands Citroën, Opel and Peugeot. However, the combination of high-resolution cameras, high-performance LEDs and matching algorithms offers companies from a wide range of industries the opportunity to increase the quality of their adhesive bonds and thus their products and at the same time generate real competitive advantages. In addition to the automotive industry, its suppliers at various stages of the value chain and the aerospace industry benefit from the efficiency and high level of traceability offered by the sensor.
Since safety-relevant parts in particular require a 100% inspection, real-time execution on the production line also ensures a high degree of cost-effectiveness. The camera-supported solution from AKEOPLUS ensures contactless, safe connections that deliver what they promise.