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For most products, 100 percent inspection and identification is essential. Low-volume production often goes hand-in-hand with high costs, particularly if the variety of products concerned also is extensive. Health care products are no exception. One example: DePuy Spine, Inc., (a Johnson & Johnson company based in Raynham, Mass.) produces small implants such as screws for spinal surgery.
This kind of operation previously had been done manually, but with regulations growing ever stricter, it became clear that only vision technology could provide the kind of solution necessary. Compar (Pfaffikon, Switzerland), developed a flexible, scalable part-automation solution using a desktop robot and a Cognex (Natick, Mass.) vision system, a solution that proved more suitable and economic than fully-automated in-line inspection.
DePuy's Discovery Facet Screws are intended to stabilize the spine during fusion surgery. The screws are titanium alloy, 4mm in diameter and in lengths ranging from 15mm to 60mm (fully threaded screws) and 25mm to 60mm (partially threaded).
Each implant is placed in the cell of a blister pack. Each batch is identifiable by a code and certain nests may be empty. The products are inspected in their individual nests by being passed through a desktop vision systemóCompar's Autonomous Inspection System (AIS), which scans all positions, identifies, measures and verifies parts, then creates an inspection report at the end of each lot.
The vision system is suitable for cameras in grayscale or color, analog or digital, UV, IR and in any interface, including line scan, Firewire IEEE 1394, USB and Camera Link. It uses the Windows XP operating system and its fully configurable inspection sequence defines the inspected positions and the types of tests performed.