X-Ray Technology for the Reduction of Scrap Materials

Tue, 09/01/2015 - 16:17

guarantee excellence in any given component, but these testing processes can sometimes be time-consuming as they require the products to be dismantled or destroyed. The well-known German optical systems manufacturer, Carl Zeiss, determined to change this trend, has developed VoluMax, a new inline computer tomograph that is set to change the world of metrology. Computed tomography evaluations are used for cast aluminum parts and other non-ferrous materials, as well as for plastic components within automobiles. VoluMax can inspect the entirety of any of these components for manufacturing defects. With this technology, several robots acquire measurements of specific sections of the vehicle during brief periods of inactivity on the production line. Once production is complete, all the collated data is combined to paint a complete picture of the vehicle. As well as speeding up vehicle manufacturing processes and developing a complete statistical analysis of production, VoluMax can help to verify the quality of a certain component, resulting in less scrap material and a much lower defect rate.

X-ray scanning technology is garnering a lot of interest within the industry at the moment. “X-ray provides high accuracy measurements without opening the components; we have already included it in our METROTOM systems, and we will soon be selling these machines in Mexico,” says Raf Putseys, Director of Industrial Metrology at Carl Zeiss de México. Through its collaboration with CIATEQ, Carl Zeiss has now implemented this new technology in some of Mexico’s metrology laboratories, offering its customers an opportunity to test the equipment.

There are a number of issues within the production process that can be avoided with the use of X-ray technologies. In plastic injection for example, there are many variables that have to be controlled in order to accurately create a part from a mold. If the right pressure, temperature, and material are not used, the finished part will possess incorrect dimensions. To test the process, the component usually has to be submitted to microscopic analysis and sometimes destroyed, further increasing production time. During a casting process, the part has to be cut to meet its final geometric requirements. This is when problems that are hard to notice can arise, such as pockets of air within the part. In these cases, the component has to be melted down and the whole process needs to be restarted, wasting valuable time. Even in the most effective companies, this process can result in around 15-20% of scrap material. The introduction of VoluMax technology would offer many advantages during the production process. In the past, it was only possible to detect component defects such as porosities, but with VoluMax, their size and location within the component can be evaluated, enabling the definition of product-specific regions within the component in which different cavity sizes can be used as a criterion for component evaluation. The 3D results delivered by VoluMax are used for porosity analysis, assembly checks, and metrological verification of simple dimensions.

VoluMax incorporates Carl Zeiss’ know-how in the field of inline metrology and ensures the optimal integration of the computed tomography (CT) into the manufacturing line by means of automated robotic loading. The software integration of the CT into the manufacturing phase ensures that test results can be traceably documented and archived for safety-relevant components.