27 June 2017

New scan solution utilises OCT technology to coaxially track and inspect seams

A new scan solution prototype with integrated distance sensor has been introduced by Blackbird Robotersysteme GmbH (SCANLAB GmbH associate company). Based on optical coherence tomography (OCT), the system detects and measures 3D laser weld seam topographies in high resolution.

In healthcare, OCT has proven itself as an examination technique for ophthalmology, skin analysis, cancer diagnosis and more. For patients, this optical measurement method is painless and non-invasive. But this form of contactless, interferometric measurement also offers considerable potential to other industries. 

In contrast to other sensors or measurement methods, this OCT-based distance measuring offers full flexibility by capturing and analysing detailed data within and beyond the actual laser processing zone. For example, this includes analysis of to-be-welded components, seam tracking of fillet welds and real-time detection of any weld errors or imperfections occurring during weld operations.

Monitoring thus always takes place directly within the process zone avoiding limitations that occur to some extent in lateral monitoring solutions. Moreover, the measuring beam has a scan system of its own that enables positioning all around the processing point. The integrated high-quality sensor and finely-coordinated calibration between the OCT scanner and laser scan system all team up to ensure high scanning frequencies and measurement accuracy between the scan head and to-be-welded components. This permits a detailed three-dimensional representation of the weld seam for unequivocal quality assurance. 

"This new system affirms our strategy of offering complete laser welding solutions with integrated seam tracking and profile analysis," explains Thibault Bautze, Sales Manager at Blackbird Robotersysteme GmbH. "For our customers, this is a further step toward simplifying and visualising weld processes, avoiding interfaces and increasing production quality – as evidenced by the first highly promising test trials. All components are perfectly matched and supplied from a single source. The underlying control electronics from SCANLAB allows synchronisation of seven axes with high precision."

Blackbird's system solutions offer custom interfaces for all leading robot systems, such as ABB, Comau, FANUC, Kawasaki, KUKA or YASKAWA, and find use worldwide in industrial manufacturing, particularly motor vehicle production. The first test systems with the new, integrated OCT solution will be installed in 2017. The scope of delivery includes the scan optics and control system, as well as the complete software architecture with an intuitive graphical user interface.


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