Almost all products manufactured in large quantities begin life as semi-finished products (e.g. forged parts, rods, tubes, punched, bent and deep-drawn parts). In production technology, semi-finished products are the most widely delivered type of metal materials and therefore play a key role in almost all sectors (particularly the automotive industry). Most manufacturing of semi-finished products is fully automated, and takes place at extremely high speeds. At the same time, high standards of dimensional accuracy, surface finish, purity, etc are often required, since many of these semi-finished products will later perform safety-related tasks, e.g. in car chassis, in brakes or in medical devices.
Reproducible 100 Percent Control
Fraunhofer IPM develops special customer-specific systems that allow, in some cases for the first time, to measure and characterize the 3D geometry of the entire surface of every component at the normal rate of production. In addition to the analysis of the dimensional accuracy, local defects (scratches, burrs, grooves, protrusions, inclusions in the surface, etc.), contaminants (organic / inorganic), and chips possibly produced during post-machining can be found and classified fully automatically. This makes reproducible, one hundred percent inspections of components possible. The production process can be continuously improved by feeding quality parameters back into the process. As a result, the quality improves and the rejection rate decreases.
Innovative semi-finished product handling depending on the measurement task
The handling of the semi-finished products plays a decisive role in the successful integration of measurement systems into existing production lines. In light of the increasingly higher requirements on measurement accuracy, robotic handling of the objects to be measured is becoming more and more important: The more precisely the components are held in position, the more precise the measurement results are. In close cooperation with our customers, Fraunhofer IPM ensures the measurement and robotic handling technologies are properly integrated while taking the characteristics of the existing production process as well as the measurement accuracy requirements into account.
Innovative solutions for handling semi-finished products are used depending on the requirements: One example is measuring pre-oriented components or bulk components fed in on a conveyor belt in free fall. Measuring free-falling components offers the opportunity to obtain a 360-degree view and reconstruct the geometry in a single measurement operation.
Even for extremely complex measurement tasks, the type of component handling can make a decisive contribution to achieving a solution: For example, tiny chips only a few ten micrometers in size like those often produced when finishing metallic components can be detected using a mechanical excitation mechanism that is integrated into the measurement process.