Robots can reduce or eliminate the need for time-consuming manual inspection and increase manufacturing productivity, said ABB Robotics & Discrete Automation last week. It said its new 3D quality inspection, or 3DQI, robot cell provides fast, accurate testing to make metrology easier and faster. The company added that its system can reduce the likelihood of faults and errors, as well as reduce costs by minimizing the risk of defects that could lead to product recalls.
Auburn Hills, Mich.-based ABB Robotics & Discrete Automation is a unit of Zurich-based ABB Group. It has shipped more than 400,000 robotic systems to customers in industries ranging from automotive and electronics to logistics. The company employs more than 10,000 people at over 100 locations in more than 53 countries. ABB Group, which has more than 110,000 employees in over 100 countries, won a 2020 RBR50 innovation award for its global research hub for healthcare robotics at Texas Medical Center’s Innovation Center.
3D Quality Inspection cell designed for accuracy, portability
ABB said its 3DQI cell is capable of detecting defects of less than half the width of a human hair and imperceptible to the naked eye, saving time and effort. The 3D Quality Inspection cell is accurate to below 100 μm (micrometer) μm, and its modular design is intended to provide customers the flexibility to create a solution tailored to their exact requirements, according to the company.
The 3DQI was conceived for offline testing stations, and its modularity allows for customization or expansion, said ABB. Using a single 3D white light optical sensor to scan millions of 3D points per shot, the quality inspection system can create a detailed digital model of the part being inspected. It can then be compared to an original CAD drawing. All of this can be done 10 times faster than with traditional coordinated measuring machines (CMM), ABB claimed.
The sensor can be carried by any robot with a handling capacity greater than 20 kg and is compatible with a range of robots, tracks, and rotary tables. As a result, there are no limits on the dimensions of the parts that can be inspected, said the company.
3DQI includes compatibility and usability
ABB said the new 3D Quality Inspection cell joins FlexArc for robotic welding and FlexLoader for automated machine testing in its growing portfolio of smart, flexible industrial automation.
3DQI also provides comprehensive data analysis processed in real time. Digital records support traceability, which is needed in several industries, said the company. They also enable customers to adapt their processes to prevent further failures to improve overall quality and productivity.
ABB noted that all of its equipment is included in the RobotStudio Sidio Planner Power Pack for easy and intuitive programming, allowing new users to quickly become familiar with using the 3D Quality Inspection cell.
“The ability to accurately measure and control quality is vital to ensure that products achieve consistency, comply with standards, and meet customer expectations,” stated Tanja Vainio, managing director of the automotive Tier 1 business line at ABB Robotics. “Traditional testing methods are slow and capture the potential quality mistakes often too late in the process.”
“Our 3DQI cell automates this process, far exceeding the capabilities of traditional inspection in speed, accuracy and repeatability,” she said. “We’ve developed and piloted our 3DQI technology in automotive applications, including automotive supplier Benteler, and the 3DQI solution has been proven to improve product quality, throughput and safety, while freeing up skilled labor to be deployed on other tasks.”