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THE SEARCH FOR PERFECTION
In the world of vision quality control, anything less than 100% is unacceptable. But, thanks to machine vision systems, that goal can be readily achieved. Volker Pape, chairman of the Executive Committee of the Machine Vision Group in the German Engineering Federation (VDMA), states, “The traditional application area for machine vision is still quality assurance.” According to the latest industry survey published last year, it accounted for 44% of turnover.
The enormous importance of quality assurance will also be highlighted at VISION 2004 this month in Stuttgart, Germany. Manufacturers such as Vitronic will present the latest generation of machine vision systems for robot-guided 3D weld seam testing of car parts. Using the 3D system, single or multilayer weld seams can be checked for defects such as holes, pores, insufficient seam height, edge notches, etc. 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 subcategory 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 approximately 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 a decisive competitive factor for manufacturers of endless material such as steel, aluminum and paper.