SmartRay unveils latest automated weld inspection solution

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SmartRay has released its latest automated weld inspection solution, the MICO sensor, which it says has the most compact head on the market.

The MICO sensor – providing micro measurements in a compact sensor head – has the same form factor as a standard weld torch, allowing complete integration of weld inspections on most production lines. The thin and compact shape of the MICO enables customers to weld and inspect with 100% correspondence as the tool centre point of both systems is identical.  This enables inspection of anything that is welded; a major development in this process. 

The tiny sensor has a resolution of a little over 1000 pixels on a field of view of 40mm – the exact optimization for automated weld inspection systems. Consequently, the lateral resolution of this sensor is 40 microns. To put this into context; a human hair has a diameter of approximately 70 microns. This means the distance between the measurement data received is less than the diameter of a human hair. 

This allows for detection of very fine defects on a weld. Customers typically require a sensor to identify defects of a size of about 0.5millimetres, and sometimes 0.3 or 0.2millimetres. This sensor can reliably detect defects of 0.2millimetres in diameter.

The MICO operates at about 3kHz, taking 3000 profile cuts per second – 50% faster than the previous standard application. The regular inspection speed of this sensor is 200millimetres/second, compared to other systems that run at standard speed of 100-130millimetres per second. As a result, customers with a high number of welds to inspect within a short cycle time will be able to reduce inspection time and may require fewer systems to inspect the same number of welds.

With this new design, SmartRay has also allowed for internal wiring through the hollow wrist of the robot, eliminating the need for external robot dress packs. This is not only more cost-effective, but predominantly more advantageous in terms of reachability, as the blocking contours of a dress pack is avoided. Maintenance time is significantly reduced as the wear and tear of these cables decreases and eliminates the need for an adapter cable, which typically goes from the robot wrist to the sensor, so there is one less cable in the cable chain.

Additionally, in the past, an integrator would have to design a tooling from the robot flange to take the sensor head. This tooling would have to be a different shape every time because every project has different reachability issues and to handle different cable dress packs. The MICO sensor overcomes this as it can be mounted directly to the robot flange in a fully integrated design. The advantage of this is significant because users don't need an individual design from a line holder or an integrator which needs to be individually manufactured. Therefore, it's reducing an additional element - cost and implementation risk - in the integration chain.

“The response from the market has been amazing” said Bernd Loroesch, Business Unit Manager, JOSY weld inspection, SmartRay. 

“Since the sensor and the weld torch have the same form factor, customers  will experience much better reachability and will only need one simulation process. This saves a lot of time in product design, making their overall production more efficient, increasing their return on investment.” 

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