APEX, N.C.--G2 Technologies (Apex, NC, USA; www.g2tek.com), a test and measurement company with clients like Honda, 3M, BE Aerospace and NASCAR, has developed a first-of-its-kind, customizable, automated 3D inspection system that can catch flaws that previous inspection systems would miss.
The system was developed in response to a client’s need for faster, more accurate connector inspection. Demand for connectors has grown in recent years with the increasing need for reliable, fail-safe electronics in a wide range of industries, including automotive, aerospace, and defense/military. The global market for the connectors industry is estimated to reach US $80.3 billion by 2022.
“In the past, inspection of connectors has been limited to 2D and the human eye, so while you can catch bent or missing pins, you can easily miss a faulty connector with a pin that was just too short to see,” said Craig Borsack, P.E., president of G2 and an industry expert. “With 3D inspection systems, companies can catch mistakes like this before it’s too late. That’s important when lives and millions of dollars are at stake.”
The new 3D system built by engineers at G2 Technologies combines a machine-vision based non-contact 3D inspection system, a cleaning station, and electrical test and engraving stations. The system is built on a PXI platform from National Instruments (NI; Austin, TX; www.ni.com/vision). The system has the flexibility to inspect a variety of connectors with pin counts ranging from four to 32, and deliver one-cycle rolling changeovers between parts. It can achieve a 3.5 second takt time on each part.
Borsack hopes connector and other manufacturers will consider exploring the automated 3D systems for use in their manufacturing process. “It’s a relatively small investment when you look at the potential savings it offers. Not only can this inspection system help protect a manufacturer from being sued for damages in a recall situation,” Borsack said, “it could absolutely help save lives.”
Background on G2 Technologies’ 3D Connector Inspection System
The 3D connector inspection system is installed after stitching, a process that accumulates contact pins and inserts them into molded connector housings. Stitched connectors enter on an input conveyor and pass under a Genie Nano M1920 GigE Vision camera from Teledyne DALSA (Waterloo, ON, Canada; www.teledynedalsa.com).
An image of the connector is acquired with illumination provided by a DL 194 diffuse dome light from Advanced Illumination (Rochester, VT, USA; www.advancedillumination.com). The image is then analyzed to verify that the correct part is present and that it’s in the proper orientation to proceed through the inspection process. If the part is not correct or is improperly oriented, the system diverts it into a reject bin.
Parts deemed correct and that are properly aligned proceed to an orientation wheel that repositions the part board-side down, for the next station, which is board-side inspection. At this station, a scanCONTROL 2650-25 laser line profiler from Micro Epsilon (Raleigh, NC, USA; www.micro-epsilon.com) scans the entire board side of the connector.
After board-side inspection, connector-side inspection takes place. Due to cycle time requirements, and the need to scan the part from both directions, inspection of the mating side of the connector is performed at two stations by two additional laser line profilers.
Two scans are used because of the shadowing effects created by the connector shell when the part is scanned from one side. To get a complete 3D point cloud, the part is scanned from both directions, then the images are combined to mask out the shadows.
The system scans from both sides and creates a plane based on a datum (feature) on the bottom of the mate side connector. This plane is used to measure true position and pin height of the contacts.
After visual inspection, the connector goes to a cleaning station, followed by electrical testing and finally, each connector goes through an engraving station. Passing connectors receive a date code and proceed to packaging. A failing connector receives a reject code that identifies the station in which it was rejected and is moved to a locked reject bin to ensure that it doesn’t get mixed with good parts.
Background on G2
G2, a leader in the test and measurement industry, specializes in the design and development of automated inspection, measurement and test systems. The company’s state-of-the-art, automated solutions allow its clients to identify and correct manufacturing problems at the source, resulting in improved product quality and lowered manufacturing costs. G2 has developed various vision-based test systems for a variety of industries including automotive, aerospace, and medical device.
For more information, contact Veronica Grosshandler at email@example.com or 919/523-3272.