Pipe vision

A system for inspecting the quality of automotive piping has been developed by AICON 3D of Germany.

Quality checks made on the piping delivered to automotive manufacturers for fuel or brake fluid lines must not only be precise, but also fast and uncomplicated.

Traditionally, engineers used mechanical gauges for such quality control. However, this inspection process proved to be inflexible and cost-intensive, since the gauges had to be manufactured for each tube and vehicle type, and had to be altered for even the smallest changes in geometry.

Not any more. Now, a better solution for measuring tube geometry and inspecting the quality of the pipes has been developed by AICON 3D of Germany in the shape of its tube measurement system TubeInspect.

The system works with 16 high-resolution digital cameras from Allied Vision Technologies. The line to be measured is simply placed in an optical measurement cell, and its geometry is then digitally determined via the cameras.

The measurement process is extremely fast: The measurement of a line with 15 bends takes about 10 to 20 seconds. The results of the measurement can be recorded in a database and documented during the process. The TubeInspect system itself measures tubes with diameters from 4 to 200 mm (from a fraction of an inch up to 7.9 in.).

Once the data has been recorded, the software does a target/actual comparison. Variances are displayed in colour on screen with the aid of a curved surface tolerance calculation. If the tube manufacturing data should need amending, the system can transmit the new data directly to the CNC program on the tube-bending machine.

Thanks to the high resolution of the AVT Marlin digital cameras plus parallel imaging from different angles, outstanding precision is achieved: Bends between 5 and 180 degrees, as well as complex bend-in-bend forms, can be recorded without problems.

The TubeInspect system is currently being successfully used at about 40 different worldwide locations by leading automotive manufacturers and suppliers, and is also being used in some interesting application areas in the aerospace industry.