A 2D/3D laser profile scanner for precise and accurate profile measurement

Micro-Epsilon’s 2D/3D laser profile scanner, offered by Bestech, facilitates precise and accurate profile measurement for a wide range of industrial applications.

The ScanControl laser profile scanner combines versatility and accuracy for easy two- and three-dimensional profile measurement. From detecting surface defects to measuring the profiles of various components for production precision, the product offers benefits and cost-effective solutions for quality inspection in the manufacturing industry.

Bestech has been an official partner of Micro-Epsilon in Australia and New Zealand for 12 years. The company introduced Micro-Epsilon’s scanCONTROL range to the Australian market in 2010 for 2D/3D distance and position measurement.

“Bestech has successfully used laser profile scanners for non- contact scanning of railway tracks. Using this laser, our customers are able to map the cross-section profile of the rail surface even at high speed and analyse the track condition remotely. Any defects on the rail track can be diagnosed by comparing the results to the reference profile stored in the database. Necessary maintenance works can be performed to maintain the safety standards,” Wirhan Prationo, marketing engineer at Bestech Australia told Manufacturers’ Monthly.

“Another application of the laser scanners is in the power generation industry. The laser scanner can measure the thermal geometric change of compressor blades that operate in high temperatures, without loss of accuracy. Scanners are used in the automotive industry to measure the gap width and the flushness of car interiors, as a cost-effective alternative to the costly and time-consuming manual method. In welding applications, the scanner offers an automatic quality inspection system for the weld seam profile. This minimises the risk of structural failures due to corrosion and poor weld quality,” he added.

The laser scanner’s applications are not limited to the manufacturing sector, Prationo said.

“The introduction of blue laser scanners has opened up new areas of application, including for quality control in the food industry – for example in the chocolate bar and potato chips production. Recently, we used the laser scanner to accurately measure the size of bread loaves in the conveyor belt to ensure that they fit into the packaging sleeve,” Prationo said.

What differentiates Micro- Epsilon’s 2D/3D laser scanners from the pack is their accuracy and fast measuring rate. The Real-Time Surface Compensation (RTSC) feature of the sensors allows fast adaptation to the constantly changing surface conditions. This enables the users to measure the profiles dynamically without the need to change the sensors’ settings manually.

The laser scanner is capable of detecting angles, edges and the type of gaps, projections or grooves.

Easy installation

Bestech’s team of engineers work closely with the customers to identify the potential applications of sensors in test and measurement activities.

“The scanner is relatively easy to install, as it is compact and easily integrated into existing factory software via SDKs or the GigE Vision standard. It can communicate with EtherNET, RS422, Analog, Digital, Profinet, PLC, Modbus, Ethernet/IP and EtherCAT interfaces, which are common in the industrial control systems.

“The ScanControl software offers a user-friendly interface and can be used for customising sensor configuration, sensor outputs and displaying results. These tools can be configured to automatically detect edges, angles, grooves, gaps and many more. The software offers more than 20 different basic programs and can be easily operated without having prior knowledge of computer programming. Data is visualised in real-time and is easily exported to the PC desktop via EtherNET connection. With a few simple instructions, engineers and operators will be fully capable in operating the software without undertaking comprehensive training courses,” Prationo said.

Different laser types

Red laser is the common technology used in laser sensors. The laser is known to provide good measurement stability on a wide range of dynamically changing surfaces. The higher intensity of red laser means that it performs better when measuring on low reflective or matte surfaces. It is also available with more variants and options in terms of sensor performance and measuring ranges. Red lasers are a more cost-effective option compared to their blue counterpart.

Based on their emitting power, laser sensors can be classified from class 1 laser to class 4 laser. The scanCONTROL scanners from Micro- Epsilon are available in both red (2M and 3B safety classes) and blue laser categories.

“Using a laser sensor with Class 2M generally does not require a laser protection officer to be on- site. However, it may cause hazard to the eyes and skin via long direct exposure. The Class 3B laser emits power in the orders of 20mW and beyond. This can cause injury to the eyes and skin if the users are fully exposed. Therefore, the surrounding area needs to be marked and restricted and a laser protection officer has to be on-site during operations,” Prationo explained.

As blue laser light operates at the opposite end of the red laser in the wavelength spectrum, it has a significantly shorter wavelength than the red laser. Under special circumstances, blue laser offers higher stability and accurate reading compared to red laser sensor. The short wavelength of the blue laser means that it is more focused on the object and does not penetrate the measurement object as deep.

“The highly-focused blue laser line offers the highest precision measurement of red-hot glowing and organic objects. The short penetration through the surface eliminates the presence of blurred spots in the reflector in these objects and therefore, provides stable and accurate measurement data. Blue laser also triumphs over red laser in the measurement of shiny and highly polished surfaces as it generates less speckling. This also leads to reduced noise production,” he said.

Sensor intelligence for automatic detection

The integrated evaluation feature in the scanCONTROL 2D/3D laser scanner series means the laser sensor head is equipped with integrated intelligence that is capable of evaluating the type of profile without any external controller.

“With the help of software, the laser scanner is capable of detecting angles, edges and the type of gaps, projections or grooves. The complete profile can be programmed and transmitted to the PLC. This enables parameters of the measurement tasks to be set up beforehand. It also allow sensors to be used as inline measurement devices in the production line.

“The dynamic algorithm automatically adjusts the exposure time and dynamic threshold, enabling detection of difficult and fast-changing surfaces with maximum accuracy,” Prationo explained.

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