Cambridgeshire-based Innomech has developed a new inspection system for a UK glass manufacturer that could quadruple its production.
The system will allow specialised glass manufacturer Cera Dynamics to further improve the standard of its glass and increase output to meet fast-growing demand from China and Taiwan.
The final inspection of glass frit or powder is a process that Cera Dynamics has traditionally done manually at a rate of approximate 25kg per hour. However, Innomech claims that its new automated system, which observes glass as it falls off the end of a conveyor belt, will allow Cera Dynamics to inspect a maximum of 100kg per hour.
In use, a vibratory feeder with a 200kg capacity spreads the powdered material onto a moving belt, which is then illuminated under white light and imaged with a line-scan camera fitted with a colour filter to detect any over-sized particles.
Peter Woods, programme manager at Innomech, told The Engineer: ‘A specially designed illumination system was developed to give the optimum discrimination of acceptable frit from unacceptable particles, and at the same time give a highly uniform distribution of light across the entire width of the curtain of product at sufficient intensity to permit inspection at a feed rate of 100kg per hour.’
The particle stream is carefully lit to avoid any potential false rejections caused from refracted light or reflections.
‘The image data from the camera is analysed in real time and when an unacceptable particle is detected, a signal is fed to a computer that actuates a diverter flap to coincide with the particle arriving at the diverter block,’ said Woods.
Out of specification particles are automatically removed from the bulk as it passes over a series of pneumatically powered diverters.
‘In other words, while the particles are falling we are deciding when to actuate a diverter to remove unwanted material from the stream.’
The glass produced by Cera Dynamics is used in a variety of industries from dental to electronics, to the encapsulation of nuclear waste.