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If You Can’t See It, Should You Sell It?

Xiris Automation specializes in “machines that can see”. We provide some of the world’s most dynamic manufacturers with the ability to detect, recognize, and interpret quality defects in their manufactured goods. As quality standards continue to rise, the expectation of quality fabricated products also increases.  Reducing scrap rates and increasing productivity, while providing consistent quality welds are high expectations with no room for compromise.

So, this raises the question: if you can’t see what you’re welding, are you confident selling it?

Today there are tools that allow metal fabricators to ensure that what they are providing their customers is at the best possible quality level.  One of the most effective tools for monitoring the weld quality is a weld camera.  A weld camera, such as the Xiris XVC-O camera, provides the ability for the welding process to be monitored remotely by an operator. This allows the operator to monitor the process and make adjustments to ensure the welding process has the best quality possible, while increasing the health and safety of their work environment.  

What the XVCO shows

The image above is an example of what the XVC-O system can provide.  As you can see, most features in the welding environment are clearly visible: the weld tip, weld pool, filler wire feed, seam alignment as well as the surrounding background.  This gives the operator enough information to make an informed decision about how to control the weld quality before problems develop.  It also allows for reduced welding process set up time, as any errors in the welding process will be detected right away by the operator, minimizing down time and scrap. The XVC-O Weld Camera provides clear detail of the welding process, allowing for consistent, high quality welded products to be fabricated.

 

Information on the XVC-O and all other Xiris products is available on our website www.xiris.com, including a library of recorded weld videos for your review.

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Welding Smoke: How Does it Effect You?

The welding environment has very dangerous elements; one that has been scrutinized recently is welding smoke. Although there is an abundance of protective equipment and proactive measures taken, there are still some very hazardous exposures that can occur.

According to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), welding smoke is a “mixture of very fine particles (fumes) and gases”. This is a known fact of the trade, and every employee and professional knows the risk one accepts when they weld. However, as more long term studies are completed, there are some seemingly minor details that can contribute to very serious health conditions caused by welding. Most fumes and smoke is produced when using arc welding, due to the high heat involved.

smoke1 resized 600

Welding fumes and gases form from the base or filter material, any coatings present, shielding gases, any contaminants in the air, and chemical reactions from arc ultraviolet light and heat. However, these are all very important elements that must be monitored not only for the quality of the weld, but the safety of the employee.

There has been a large amount of studies concerning welding and its relation to Parkinson’s disease. This is a neurological disorder that damages brain cells in the midbrain. These studies have analyzed environmental factors that could be the cause, and have determined that welders develop Parkinson’s at a higher rate than others. This elevated rate has been related to a direct exposure to manganese welding fumes but no definitive results have been found.

With the addition of a welding camera, such injuries and health concerns can be avoided. Welding cameras, such as the XVC-O promote weld efficiency, quality products, as well as the safety of all employees and operators.

To read more about these health concerns and studies follow this link.

To learn more about the efficiency of weld cameras and the numerous benefits please visit our website.

www.xiris.com

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Monitoring Squeeze Pressure on Tube and Pipe Mills

Recent advancements in machine vision technology have made a new type of inspection capable of recognizing 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 (non-destructive testing) 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 the welding process, allowing them to perform corrective action before significant scrap occurs. This capability is especially helpful for one of the most common defects found across all types of tube manufacturing: insufficient or excess squeeze pressure. This pressure is used to form the tube during welding and can be monitored by measuring the bead ratio of the tube.

The Bead Ratio

The bead ratio is an important measurement for ERW/HF processes to monitor.  It is calculated by measuring the maximum bead height above the parent material, divided by the thickness of the parent material wall thickness.  The bead ratio is an excellent indication of the amount of squeeze pressure used on an ERW/HF mill during welding. When the squeeze pressure is too high, molten material will spill out of the seam, causing a higher bead to form and increasing the bead ratio.  Likewise, when the squeeze pressure is too small, the parent material will not be pushed together enough and a sunken weld will result, causing the bead ratio to fall.  By taking into account the wall thickness, the bead ratio can determine the severity of a sunken or raised weld for a particular weld thickness, making it more of a measurement relevant across all tube thicknesses.

 sadjf;lasdkjfa;lllllllkj resized 600The Bead Ratio (h/e), where “h” = the height of the bead and “e” = the tube wall thickness.

How the WI2000p System Measures the Bead Ratio

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 the bead height 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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Bring Welding Education into the 21st Century with Weld Cameras!

One of the biggest problems instructors face when teaching welding students is demonstrating proper welding techniques in a way that all students can see them.  The traditional solution has been to repeat the demonstration over and over to small groups of students so that everyone can see and understand what is going on.  This causes instructors to battle time pressure to perform all the required welding demonstrations within the limited number of class hours available.  Another problem with this solution is that students may not all see the same issues, or get the same level of explanation.  But that was with the traditional solution, and the 21st century brings better solutions for such issues.

NAIT Installed side

An example of the Xiris XVC-O View Camera, installed at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT)

Today, progressive welding educators do not need to face these century old issues.  By implementing a weld camera that can view the huge range of brightness present in an open arc welding environment (including the weld arc and its darker surrounding background), welding schools and colleges can provide their students with a clear view of the weld process. This allows instructors to explain and demonstrate what is really happening with the weld arc, as well as its immediate environment (such as the weld seam, weld pool, shielding gas, wire feed and other inputs).  Furthermore, this allows students to receive the same demonstrations and explanations of one weld, and provides a more consistent teaching method for welding educators.

By using a camera that can generate a clear view of the weld parameters, educators can get better use of their facilities as they can train more students in less time. They can also eliminate space restrictions of larger classes, enhance students’ basic understanding of the welding process, and enhance their school’s reputation amongst prospective students with the addition of small but evolutionary camera.

For the students, the implementation of a welding camera can create a more enjoyable learning experience, requiring less time to gain the skills needed, and raise the perception of welding as an advanced trade and skill. 

By using a weld camera, educators can create new ways to deliver education, such as recording videos of good quality welds for off-line review by students. These videos can also be used for marking or testing purposes, and the implementation of 21st century learning technique: online learning of welding processes!

For more information about our educator packages, prices and offers, please visit our website or contact us directly at sales@xiris.com

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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.

 

GOOOOOOD 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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