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Automotive Components Measure Up With The Hawk

Plastic automotive components are benefiting from a new metrology system that ensures quality standards are met by combining a true optical image display with fully automatic video edge detection.

Car dashboard

Automotive mouldings are becoming more complex as replacements for steel and aluminium parts, and this is driving a need for non-contact measurement systems that are accurate and capable of measuring optically difficult components in volume.

Automotive mouldings are becoming more complex as replacements for steel and aluminium parts, and this is driving a need for non-contact measurement systems that are accurate and capable of measuring optically difficult components in volume. Vision Engineering has developed the Hawk, a British-designed non-contact measurement system that the company claims is the first to offer both a true optical image display combined with fully automatic video edge detection. The Hawk can run either manually or automatically and can be automated for high volumes.

“The manufacturing criteria on such plastic components now equates to that previously associated with machined metal”

Vision for top quality components

“One significant application area for the new Hawk technology is moulded automotive component inspection,” says Vision Engineering. “While reducing the overall weight and improving the cosmetic finish, this trend demands that the manufacturing criteria on such plastic components now equates to that previously associated with machined metal.”
Automotive mouldings tend to be manufactured in dark, low contrast colours. To measure a black low contrast object on a black low contrast background presents significant challenges to most non-contact measurement systems – and this is where the benefits of the Hawk system come in to play.

Hitting the standard with climate control parts

Vision Engineering uses the example of a Peugeot climate control fascia panel moulded in very dark grey. This panel must fit exactly into the climate control assembly or the unit may rattle and the driver would see a bad fit. The panel is manufactured in volume and requires several key measurements to be accurately verified. An operator using an optical system may not be cost effective because many of the checks are highly repetitive. An automated video-based system would face difficulties because the contrast between black on black edges is too low. The solution is the combined approach used by the Hawk.

The basic, clearly defined edges can be automatically measured using video edge detection technology. This allows for the majority of the checks to be fully automated, relieving an operator from time consuming, repetitive tasks. Once these are completed, the patented optical display head can be used, allowing the operator to use subjective experience and the ability to manually define a feature to measure the difficult, low contrast features.

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