The Expert’s Desk: Flexible 3D Digital Defect Detection Offers Smart Solution for Large and Small-Batch Composite Manufacturers

by Matthias Schmitz on October 17, 2017 From Ask The Experts

Earlier this year, Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence released the Composite Inspection System, a powerful and portable three-dimensional part digitisation solution that combines the expertise of Apodius GmbH, the Hexagon-owned composite measurement specialist, with the leading technology of the ROMER Absolute Arm.

Specifically developed for the production of fibre-reinforced plastics (FRP), the Composite Inspection System delivers enhanced quality control and component design capabilities. The power of this new three-dimensional measurement solution lies in its extreme portability and flexibility combined with a completely new to market digitisation capability, including complete surface texture mapping. These factors allow the Composite Inspection System to bring reliable quality control to FRP production for even small-batch composite manufacturers.

Manufacturers are still confronted with increasing quality control challenges

Quality in Composite Production
Quality control and process automation represent critical factors for the economical establishment of FRP part production. While it has been possible to make enormous gains in process automation over the past decade, manufacturers are still confronted with increasing quality control challenges. Organisations must meet the dual challenges of the rising quality demands of the market and the need to evaluate their parts and processes based on predefined specifications.

Due to the heterogeneous optical behaviour of fibres, in this application context conventional measuring systems either reach their performance limits or cannot meet the required measuring accuracies without resorting to preparation techniques that would be destructive for semi-finished textiles. Now, for the first time, optical metrology tools specially designed for FRP parts enable truly cost-effective quality control processes for both small-batch and large-scale manufacturers.

A Foundation in 2D Measurement
The Apodius Vision System 2D is an optical measuring system specifically developed for fibre orientation measurement and defect detection on a two-dimensional FRP surface. Information about the part’s surface texture is captured by high-resolution optical systems, and fibre orientation can then be reliably determined with a resolution of 0.1 degrees by evaluating the recorded raw image data of the texture. This is the core functionality of the Apodius Vision System range, and can be tailored by adding the necessary modules to enable defect detection to meet specific quality standard requirements.

The HP-C-V3D Apodius Vision Sensor – delivers high-quality imagesFull 3D Digitisation
By combing a FRP surface vision sensor with a ROMER Absolute Arm with Integrated Scanner, Apodius has been able to augment two-dimensional surface texture information with spatial part information. This is the Composite Inspection System, a solution that allows for the complete digitisation, surface texture mapping and analysis of FRP parts.

The integrated laser scanner of the ROMER Absolute Arm measures the geometrical attributes of the part and generates a point cloud, providing a highly accurate part geometry measurement standard. For the optical imaging of the surface structure, a specifically configured camera system with high-performance LED lighting – the HP-C-V3D Apodius Vision Sensor – delivers high-quality images. A specifically developed data fusion model then allows the combination of geometry and surface texture measurements.

The precise positional and alignment accuracy of the ROMER Absolute Arm allow it to serve as a global reference system for the vision sensor, providing the exact positional relation between part, arm and sensor head. Position data from the sensor plane and the part surface then allows for the allocation of image information representing an exact position on the surface of the part. Taken as a whole, the image and geometry information provide a full digital model of the part.

This flexible approach enables manufacturers to optimally prepare large-scale production processes during the product development process and all the way through to the approval or production release phase. Coming in a small, portable and affordable package, this technology also extends a flexible quality control solution to small and medium part manufacturers who may have been unable to justify the cost of traditional manufacturing intelligence solutions.

The innovative Composite Inspection System provides a load-bearing pillar to support quality-assured production.

As market challenges demand increased production control of fibre orientation for load-bearing FRP components, the innovative Composite Inspection System provides a load-bearing pillar to support quality-assured production. The system allows small and medium production facilities to embrace an industrial production model, overcoming the limitations of manual craftsmanship and ensuring produced parts meet requirements.

An Innovative Software Platform
Evaluation of measurement results delivered by the Composite Inspection System is performed by the new Apodius Explorer 3D software platform. Developed by Apodius, this comprehensive solution visualises the complete measuring process in real-time and automatically analyses the measurement results with instant image processing.

Following the measurement cycle, a suite of quality tools is available to the user, allowing for functions including defect detection and part analysis, as well as actual-to-target value comparison. Design and simulation data, in addition to previously digitised master parts, can be defined as reference objects. Furthermore, valid measurement results can then be used for iterative simulation, automatic report generation and design purposes via export functions, helping organisations deliver an optimised lightweight FRP design.

Matthias Schmitz

Matthias Schmitz is a Project Engineer at Apodius GmbH, the Hexagon-owned composite inspection solution specialist located in Aachen, Germany. Schmitz is an expert in plastics technology, specialising in fibre composites and their special production processes. He is responsible for the acquisition and supervision of customer and research projects in addition to the further development and sales of optical measurement solutions.