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Quality assurance in the production of pipe fittings by automatic laser based material identification

: Mönch, I.; Peter, L.; Priem, R.; Sturm, V.; Noll, R.

Tiziani, H.J. ; European Optical Society -EOS-:
Laser metrology and inspection
Bellingham, Wash.: SPIE, 1999 (Europto series)
ISBN: 0-8194-3309-8
S.235-243 : Ill., Lit.
Conference on Laser Metrology and Inspection <1999, München>
Fraunhofer ILT ()
emission spectrometry; laser; plasma; quality assurance; steel

In plants of the chemical, nuclear and off-shore industry, application specific high-alloyed steels are used for pipe fittings. Mixing of different steel grades can lead to corrosion with severe consequential damages. Growing quality requirements and environmental responsibilities demand a 100 per cent material control in the production of the pipe fittings. Therefore, LIFT, an automatic inspection machine, was developed to insure against any mix of material grades. LIFT is able to identify more than 30 different steel grades. The inspection method is based on Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectrometry (LIBS). An expert system, which can be easily trained and recalibrated, was developed for the data evaluation. The result of the material inspection is transferred to an external handling system via PLC interface. The duration of the inspection process is 2 seconds. The graphical user interface was developed with respect to the requirements of an unskilled operator. The software is based on a realtime operating system and provides a safe and reliable operation. An interface for the remote maintenance by modem enables a fast operational support. Logged data are retrieved and evaluated. This is the basis for an adaptive improvement of the configuration of LIFT with respect to changing requirements in the production line. Within the first six months of routine operation, about 50000 pipe fittings were inspected.