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The Writing is on the Box
A young machine vision company is taking on the challenges of print inspection.
by Sarah Sookman
Each time we set foot in a store, we are bombarded with hundreds of packaged products, many contained in printed cardboard boxes. From an aesthetic point-of-view, the boxes have to be in pristine condition; after all, a manufacturer does not want to see poor print quality on his package. For certain industries, however, the packaging plays an even greater role. When the consumer purchases extra-strength pain medication, for example, that particular medication must be contained in the box.
Founded in 2000, Orus Integration of Laval, Quebec, Canada, developed the PL series of print inspection systems for local box manufacturers who print cartons for pharmaceutical companies. The PL-1100 is an inspection machine that segregates pharmaceutical boxes to prevent insertion of a drug in the wrong package. The PL-1100 is a periscope configured to fit underneath a conveyor so it can scan the printed cartons as they pass between conveyors. A light source illuminates the 1" gap between the conveyors, and a line-scan camera acquires 100% of the box's printed surface as it passes between the conveyors at a rate of 120,000 products/hour.
The operator's console of the PL-1100 includes a vision server running a FalCOM HMI. Based on the Matrox Imaging Library, FalCOM requires the operator to first specify a model box, to which the remaining boxes in the batch will be compared. Sheets that fail are rejected using the PL-1100's tracking system, which is tied onto the production line's existing reject mechanism. FalCOM allows the user to adjust the sensitivity with many parameters, as well as provide statistical data analysis with Microsoft Excel™ compatibility. To ensure system reliability, the PL-1100 system rejects all boxes that do not conform to the specified model. That is, not only are incorrect sheets rejected (for example, an extra-strength batch containing a regular strength package), but contaminated sheets and those with printing defects as well.
Depending on the actual system, the PL series inspection systems use the DALSA Piranha2 line of linescan cameras for monochrome systems which range from 1K to 8K; color systems use either a DALSA Trillium or a Basler L301kc. Two dual LED linear front lights project a 1mm line on the scanning axis from two different directions, which improves the quality of the scanned image. A Camera Link frame grabber is then inserted inside the Orus multiprocessors' vision server.