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Inspecting Welds on Thin Walled Tubes

Legislative requirements forcing automotive manufacturers to improve their fleet’s fuel economy has put pressure on reducing the overall weight of a vehicle and a number of the components involved.  Over the past couple of decades, tubes and formed profiles have made their way into automotive designs as cost effective substitutes for a variety of components in an automobile.  One way to meet the demand for greater weight reduction is to use thinner materials with higher strength welds.  This has been implemented in a variety of tube applications where more customers are designing thin walled applications that demand more precise manufacturing techniques to meet their expected quality standards.  A typical example is in the exhaust tube assembly which includes the catalytic converter segment, exhaust piping segment, and decorative portion.  Designers of exhaust systems are under greater pressure to reduce weight so they constantly turn to thinner walled tubing to meet their needs.

Detecting weld defects on welded tubing is important on most tube and pipe mills.  However, the thinner the wall thickness, the more critical it is to inspect the weld as soon as possible after welding.  Thin walled tubes are typically made of low carbon steel, which is most effectively welded with TIG or Laser welding processes.  Of all the defects that can occur when making a thin walled tube, mismatch (the uneven alignment of the two sides of material as they come together) is the most critical.  Any small amount of mismatch becomes significant relative to the wall thickness, and a critical problem where additional forming is performed on the tube.  Forming technologies such as hydroforming or roll forming require a precise fit up of the material to produce a smooth formed tube for the process to be effective. 

Mismatch resized 600Mismatch

In addition, any sunken or concave welds may also cause problems similar to mismatch, by increasing the through-wall thickness of the tube so that the overall thickness of the weld bead area becomes substantially larger than the parent material, potentially causing interference fits when two thin walled tubes are sleeved together.

describe the imageThrough Wall Thickness

To detect these defects, and other important defects during the welding and forming processes on a tube mill, progressive fabricators turn to the WI2000p Weld Inspection System.  Using a precise laser camera technology, the WI2000p can detect mismatch, weld height, and other welding and forming defects as small as 7 µm.  By placing the WI2000p system after the weld box, fabricators can detect very small changes in forming characteristics that could cause failures in the field.

For more information on tube inspection, and many useful videos, please visit our new Tube and Pipe Library on our website

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Don’t Compromise! Prioritize Safety, Prioritize Vision.

Welding is a very advanced trade that demands not only skill, but training, awareness, and precaution. Even with all of these qualifications, there is still a large possibility for accidents to occur. It is unfortunate when these incidents occur, but even more so when they could have been prevented. High risk industries that commonly use welding are those involving pipe construction. Large construction companies involved in the rebuilding, improvement, and development of major projects such as pipelines and subways are often tasked with the difficult job of completing welds inside large tubes.

This past October 2013, while reconstructing the major subway Metro Line in Washington, one worker was killed, and two others were injured. The accident occurred because of an explosion, causing a fire to break out in a tunnel, where some of the major reconstruction was occurring. In June 2011 three major manufacturers were fined by the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission for up to 25 violations concerning serious safety violations, for a total of $88, 000.

body resized 600The most common areas injured by welding accidents

% of total injuries

Body part

Description of most common welding injuries and causes

31%

Eyes

Fragments or dust in eye, in particular, metal from welding or grinding

21%

Hand, fingers
and thumbs

Wounds/lacerations caused by steel or metal

12%

Back

Muscle and tendon sprains and strains from lifting or carrying pieces of metal or steel, or from bending down

4%

Knee

Muscle and tendon sprains and strains from kneeling, crouching, twisting or walking up or down stairs

4%

Shoulder

Muscle and tendon sprains and strains from repeatedly lifting or moving things

3%

Foot and toes

Crushing or bruising injuries from dropping pieces of metal or machinery

3%

Wrist

Muscle and tendon sprains and strains from repeatedly lifting or moving thing


(Source: Queensland Government, 2011)

Welding accidents can occur in any context, in any environment. From a large scale operation, to a small shop job, there should never be a compromise in safety. There are always risks when dealing with gas, hot metals, and complex components, and any steps that can be made to reduce these risks, and potentially save a life should be taken. How much money does it cost to save a life? With the involvement of welding cameras, many lives can be saved, and more accidents can be avoided. By taking operators and welding engineers away from dangerous environments a small adjustment can make a large improvement. Xiris Automation Inc. produces welding cameras that allow for monitoring welds, and increased safety. All without sacrificing weld quality. The Xiris XVC-O specializes in monitoring Open Arc Welding, and the WI2000p Inspection System specializes in tube and pipe welding inspection. With the inclusion of ether of these devices many injuries can be avoided, production and efficiency in manufacturing lines can increase, and the risk of a fatal welding injury occurring can be severely reduces.

To learn more about welding cameras, machine vision, and examples of weld videos please visit our website.

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How to Get the Best View of an Open Arc Weld

Attaining a good image of a weld and the surrounding background has been a struggle ever since video cameras for welding became available.  The problem has always been the range of brightness that occurs during welding: the ratio between the maximum and minimum light intensity is usually too great for a standard camera to measure properly.  Standard cameras on the market today can typically measure about 1,000 levels of brightness between the maximum and minimum light levels in an image.  However, in a typical open arc welding environment, there is a brightness range that can exceed 10,000,000 levels of brightness between the brightest portion of the welding arc, and the darker areas surrounding the weld.  Using a standard camera to image such a weld will create an image similar to the image below on the left, where the camera sensor will image the scene up to a point and then saturate when it gets too bright. This causes the bright areas of the image to appear as a white blur.

 

To solve this problem, Xiris Automation has developed the XVC-O View Camera that uses advanced electronics with logarithmic sensitivity to be able to see more than 10,000,000 levels of brightness in an image.  As a result, more image detail is visible than ever seen before. The detail of the weld arc, the shielding gas, weld pool, torch tip, and weld seam can all clearly be seen.  The image below on the right is an image taken from the XVC-O camera of an open arc welding process. The weld arc is no longer saturated and is clearly visible as is the detail of the background, providing better quality information for the weld operator.

 

goodBAD resized 600           Standard Camera Image of a Weld                Xiris XVC-O Camera Image of a Weld

With the ability to see more detail of the weld arc and the surrounding environment, welding technicians are able to use the XVC-O to better control their welding processes through better quality assurance and process feedback. 

To see examples of the video quality possible with the XVC-O across a variety of welding processes and materials, please see our Weld Video Library here.

 

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Taking the Danger Out of Weld Monitoring

Xiris recently received a call from a prospective client asking about our XVC-S Submerged Arc View camera and how it worked. They had two main questions: Can two cameras be monitored simultaneously? And can their images be recorded?

After a short conversation with the customer, the reason for the request became clear. The customer was welding tanks with the Submerged Arc welding process, and they had a problem. They operate two sub arc welding heads, approximately 13’ apart, both of which need to be monitored for weld process quality.  Their present monitoring solution used an operator sitting in a chair mounted to a ladder.  The operator would move from one head to the other during the welding process in order to be able to see what was going on with both heads.  During one of these shifts, an operator fell, and was injured.  The customer’s initial solution was to replace the chair and ladder with a man lift to allow the operator to move between the weld heads, and welding controls when adjustments were required.  But it still was not an ideal situation.

Instead, the customer wanted the operator to remain on the floor with the welding controls, monitor both welding heads, and perform the adjustments from there.  The standard XVC-S View Camera system was designed for one primary camera, but has recently been updated.  

 

7720 062 resized 600

The updated XVC-S+ system with multiple camera heads.

The XVC-S+ system, which comes complete with computer and HMI console allows for two cameras to connect to the console, and be displayed on a single screen in a split screen view.  With this system, the operator is able to monitor both welding head images side by side on a single screen.  With features such as adjustable crosshairs and targets on the screen, the operator is able to make continuous adjustments to the weld heads from a safe, remote operating location.

The images can be saved to the hard drive on the computer for off line viewing, review and analysis, allowing the customer to use the video segments for training, off line quality audits, and process troubleshooting.

In conclusion, a previously unsafe and inefficient welding environment resulted in injury and poor productivity. These problems were resolved with the addition of on system, the XVC-S+ Sub Arc View camera system including two cameras and split screen display capability.  

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Post-Secondary Schools Increase Trade Resources and Improve Student Experience

Technical trade schools and welding education programs are not new to post-secondary institutions, but as organizations see an increase in admissions, there is also a noticable increase in demand for equipment. This is not only to appease the quantity of new students, but also to ensure safety and efficiency in the curriculums. The most appealing program to a student will have experienced and knowledgeable professors, interesting and extensive material, as well as modern equipment. However, even with all of these tools there are still some major factors that all of these institutions face:

  • The booths to demonstrate and instruct welding are too small for more than just a few students at a time
  • The instruction area has inadequate space for the number of students registered in the program
  • The welding consumables budget is insufficient and will not cover the cost for new equipment

When instructing such a unique trade, it is important that students not only understand what is being taught, but can see the demonstration. Being able to see and understand what is occurring with a weld tip and arc, as well as the environment around it (weld seam, weld pool, shielding gas, and wire feed) are all essential elements to understanding the welding process. Without a grasp on these elements and factors, there is little that can be retained by the student. This is all based on a visual demonstration that can be hard to provide in many welding institution settings.

As technology and equipment advance, the ability to record lessons and welds adds an immense benefit to both students and instructors. Students can learn more outside of the classroom, as well as retain and digest all of the important elements of the lesson using video playback. This can be provided through the addition of weld cameras.

teach paper resized 600

Not any camera can be placed in such a hostile environment, and expected to function normally. Therefore, more research and development has been contributed to constructing a small, clear, and functional camera that can withstand this environment, and provide the best image quality. Xiris Automation Inc. has created such a camera, called the XVC-O (Xiris View Camera for Open Arc Welding). This allows video recording, clear images, storing/saving capabilities, as well as better classroom visuals for welding programs. This live weld feed can be attached to a simple monitor (as demonstrated above), or even a full size projector, and still provide a clear, comprehensive view of all elements. Xiris has also developed a version for submerged arc welding.

Local colleges, such as Conestoga College, have added this kind of technology to their budding trades programs. As the Government of Canada announced this May, they are investing $2.3 million over the next five years towards Conestoga College’s new Centre for Smart Manufacturing establishment. Already using the XVC-O, these improvements have allowed Conestoga to become an extremely competitive College in the area, and one of the most competitive for the welding trade school industry. Other institutions, such as NAIT (Northern Alberta Institute of Technology) have also added systems to their curriculum and have noticed great improvements. NAIT’s Chair of Welding Programs, Chris Manning says “by displaying the captured welding video on a remote screen, the instructors can vastly improve the learning experience of their students, with improved learning success, which is always the instructor’s goal”.

For more information about how welding cameras can assist welding education please visit www.xiris.com.

 

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Successful Show in Beijing for Xiris!

Xiris Automation Inc. exhibited at the XVC-O Weld View Camera in this year's Beijing Essen Welding Show. The show started June 10th and ended on June 13th, 2014 with an estimated 25,000 visitors from 50 different countries attending the large venue.  Ninety percent of these visitors were reported from China, and the remaining 10% were international visitors

Fanuc   crowd resized 600

This year's show was a very unique opportunity for Xiris, as the use of weld cameras is new to China.  This allowed us an advantage within the fast paced Chinese market to establish many new relationships with both machine builders and end users alike.  The show was a late addition to Xiris' busy tradeshow schedule this 2014 season. Therefore our booth was not in our preferred location, but to our immense pleasure, this did not deter any interest in the Xiris XVC-O camera. There was an enormous turn-out and many discussions with potential customers.  With both new and repeat customers in attendance, the booth was constantly crowded with interested prospective clients.

20140611 102840 resized 600

This demand and fascination with our product was due to the unique qualities of the XVC-O in the industry.  It is a perfect solution for monitoring many different welding processes, and perfect for welding professionals.  In China, as elsewhere, System integrators and general fabricators are constantly fighting to differentiate themselves from the intense competition in the industry. The Xiris XVC-O could be the key. Our camera can provide enough image clarity to monitor the entire welding process including both the brightness of the welding arc and its darker background.

Be sure to check out our website for full event details, and stay tuned for more updates on new products, sources, and pictures on all of our social media. We are now on Google+, as well as LinedIn and Twitter.

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Monitoring Tube and Pipe Production to Find SCARFING Defects

Recent advancements in machine vision technology have made a new type of inspection able to see defects related to the forming and welding area of a tube or pipe.  The result is improved quality assurance and process control on the production line.  The new type of inspection device is a laser-based triangulation system that measures the outside contour of a tube or pipe in the vicinity of its weld. 

Typically NDT systems are placed at the end of a production as a final check.  However, the laser inspection system can be placed directly after the weld box.  This system can let operators know what is changing in their welding process, allowing them to perform corrective action before significant scrap occurs. This capacity is especially helpful for one of the most common defects found across all types of Tube manufacturing: Tube Scarf defects.

 

The Scarfing Width

In certain situations on ERW/HF tube and pipe production lines, there is not enough space to perform the Non Destructive Inspection (NDI) measurements right after the weld box because the scarf tool (used to remove excessive bead from the tube) is placed directly after the weld box.  In such situations, the measurement process must be made after the scarfing tool, measuring the flat area of the tube where the scarf has occurred. On some production lines, this measurement is essential to identify the shape and profile of the tube, and to understand how it is travelling through its forming process.

Known as the scarf width, this measurement is defined as the length of the “flat” portion of the tube that appears after the weld bead has been removed by scarfing.  Scarf width measurement changes quickly during production, so it is best averaged over a number of inspections in order to make the measurement stable.

 June 17.14 Blog Scarfing resized 600

The Scarf Width, where “w” = the width of the defect.

How the WI2000p System Measures the Scarf Width

Xiris Automation Inc. has developed a non-destructive inspection system called the WI2000p Weld Inspection System. The WI2000p includes a laser line and a camera whose optical axis is offset to the axis of the laser line by an “offset angle”.  The WI2000p creates a visible cross-section of the tube by projecting the laser line on to the tube and capturing an image of the line using the camera.  The resulting image shows a profile of the tube surface as if it were cut in cross section.  If a tube is ideally round, the laser image will represent a section of an ellipse and any anomaly such as a freeze line defect can be mathematically detected. 

The WI2000p bases all of its measurements on the differences between the actual laser profile line seen by the camera, and the ideal mathematical profile based on the tube parameters.  By knowing the position of the actual laser profile, the ideal profile, and the size of the pixels in the image, the WI2000p can detect weld bead profile defects that often escape detection by other quality tools such as Eddy Current testing, or Ultrasonic Testing techniques

 

Conclusion

Overall, laser-based 3D imaging systems, such as the WI2000p from Xiris, offer an excellent measurement option for tube mill owners/operators who want additional, real-time monitoring of weld features. They can be used in a proactive manner, warning operators what is changing in their welding process so that they can perform corrective action before significant scrap occurs And by measuring the outside contour of a weld, laser-based 3D imaging systems can operate on any type of material, regardless of its reflectance or magnetic properties, using a single head to perform the measurement.

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How System Integrators Use Xiris Weld Cameras in Automation

Systems integrators who build automated welding processes are always searching for improved business models. There are thousands of small and medium sized automation system integrators around the world that are experts in the industry. This challenges each company to differentiate themselves from their competition, and do so by providing a unique value proposition to their customers.

One of the best ways to gain this competitive advantage is for system integrators to leverage rapidly evolving technology. By applying it to their customer’s welding automation solutions this allows companies to capitalize on an evolving technology, with the goal of improving profitability and efficiency.

An emerging technology that many systems integrators are considering is the use of cameras for monitoring the welding process.  While cameras have been used to monitor welding for years, it is only recently that cameras, such as the Xiris XVC-O Open Arc Weld Camera, have provided enough image clarity that system integrators have considered them a useful tool to provide to customers. 

welding line resized 600

 

Many system integrators face the same challenge:  how to build a system to keep operators from having to be in direct proximity of the automated cell in order to monitor the weld.  Most fabricator customers are increasingly dissatisfied with automated welding solutions that don’t permit operators to monitor the weld remotely.  By providing a camera to monitor the welding process, systems integrators can provide their customers with a valuable production tool.

Adding a camera system to a work cell can help increase welding automation business that might not otherwise be gained by a systems integrator. By removing the operator from the immediate work area of the welding environment there are immense benefits to the customer that would increase demand for a system integrator. For example, instead of multiple operators assigned to multiple production lines to manage rollers, material handling, and welding processes, customers benefit from having one operator per line at one control panel managing it all, increasing productivity, quality and reducing human error.

By introducing weld cameras into automated welding work cells, systems integrators can achieve an abundance of benefits. They will be able to differentiate themselves in the market, expand into new market sectors, improve technical competency, as well as improve the functional excellence of the overall product offering.

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Monitoring Tube and Pipe Production to Find FREEZE LINE Defects

Recent advancements in machine vision technology have made a new type of inspection able to see defects related to the forming and welding area of a tube or pipe.  The result is improved quality assurance and process control on the production line.  The new type of inspection device is a laser-based triangulation system that measures the outside contour of a tube or pipe in the vicinity of its weld. 

Typically NDT systems are placed at the end of a production as a final check.  However, the laser inspection system can be placed directly after the weld box.  This system can let operators know what is changing in their welding process, allowing them to perform corrective action before significant scrap occurs. This capacity is especially helpful for one of the most common defects found across ERW Tube manufacturing:  Freeze Line defects in the weld bead. 

 

The Freeze Line Defect

Particularly in Electric Resistance Welding (ERW) or High Frequency (HF) welding processes, incomplete heating of the faces of the parent material can sometimes occur, resulting in a potentially cold-welded joint, which manifests itself as a line or seam extending from the top surface of a weld down into the welded area, in the shape of a sharp valley. Such a defect could indicate major metallurgical or structural problems in a weld, such as cold welding or improper forming.  It can very often be a point of a major failure of a weld in high-stress applications because the freeze line acts as a crack initiator into the welded material.  The Freeze Line becomes a concern to weld operators when it goes below the surface of the parent material of the tube because once the weld bead has been removed through grinding or scarfing, there is a risk that a void of non-welded material could be left behind.

The freeze line is measured from the lowest point of any contour in the weld bead to the surface of the parent material as defined by the ideal circle scribed by the walls of material beyond the weld zone.  If the freeze line goes below a pre-defined height, then it is considered a defect.

June 3.14 Blog Freeze Line resized 600

The Freeze Line Defect, where “h” = the height of the defect.

 

How the WI2000p System Measures the Freeze Line Defect

Xiris Automation Inc. has developed a non-destructive inspection system called the WI2000p Weld Inspection System. The WI2000p  includes  a laser line and a camera whose optical axis is offset to the axis of the laser line by an “offset angle”.  The WI2000p creates a visible cross-section of the tube by projecting the laser line on to the tube and capturing an image of the line using the camera. The resulting image shows a  profile of the tube surface as if it were cut in cross section.  If a tube is ideally round, the laser image will represent a section of an ellipse and any anomaly such as a freeze line defect can be mathematically detected. 

The WI2000p bases all of its measurements on the differences between the actual laser profile line seen by the camera, and the ideal mathematical profile based on the tube parameters.  By knowing the position of the actual laser profile, the ideal profile, and the size of the pixels in the image, the WI2000p can detect weld bead profile defects that often escape detection by other quality tools such as Eddy Current testing, or Ultrasonic Testing techniques

 

Conclusion

Overall, laser-based 3D imaging systems, such as the WI2000p from Xiris, offer an excellent measurement option for tube mill owners/operators who want additional, real-time monitoring of weld features. They can be used in a proactive manner, warning operators what is changing in their welding process so that they can perform corrective action before significant scrap occurs And by measuring the outside contour of a weld, laser-based 3D imaging systems can operate on any type of material, regardless of its reflectance or magnetic properties, using a single head to perform the measurement.

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See Xiris in Beijing June 10-13, 2014.

Since signing Harbin Jinlifeng Co. Ltd as our distributor for China in January this year, Xiris has established success in selling a few Xiris XVC-O weld camera systems to Chinese customers. To support our expanding business in China, Xiris will exhibit in the 2014 Beijing Essen Welding and Cutting Fair from June 10 – 13 alongside our local partner, Harbin Jinlifeng.

The Beijing Essen Welding and Cutting Fair is one of the world’s leading welding exhibitions, it is the largest and the most influential welding trade fair held in China each year.  In 2013 the fair had almost 25,000 visitors from over 50 countries, and over 1,000 exhibitors from 28 countries.  Anticipating an even bigger show this year, Xiris expects to be very busy!

Come visit us at Booth# E1710 in Hall E1 of the show, where we will be demonstrating the XVC-O weld camera for Open Arc welding, and the XVC-S weld camera for Submerged Arc welding. Using leading-edge technology our XVC-O weld camera has an extremely high dynamic range sensor, which allows the operator to see both the weld arc, and its surrounding background simultaneously.  Equipped with an HMI console and monitor, the XVC-O allows the operator to remotely view the weld information up to 40 m away. This means the operator can monitor, and record, the weld process for online or offline viewing.  The system is enclosed in a cooled, durable housing to allow the camera to work in extremely harsh environments.

We are looking forward to the show, and hope you will stop by to see what our weld cameras can do!

See you in Beijing!

 

beijing

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