The Xiris Blog

Color or Not? Five Questions to Consider When Choosing a Weld Camera

Posted by Cameron Serles on Thursday, May 02, 2019 @ 11:00 AM

Welding is not a very colorful operation. The metal, torch and other materials are usually varying shades of grey. The arc is bright white. The background is almost black. To accurately monitor and inspect welds, being able to see a massive tonal range, from the brightest to the darkest, is essential.

Color image of TIG WeldMonochrome Image of TIG welding process

 Color and Monochrome images of a TIG Welding Proces

Standard cameras, and even the human eye, are incapable of distinguishing all features when faced with such a range of brightness. However, Xiris’ high dynamic range weld cameras can, either in color (the 1100 and 1100e) or black and white (the 1000 and 1000e).
As humans, we often think that color is better. But in weld cameras, that is not always the case. Determining whether a color or monochrome weld camera will work best depends on a company’s operations. Here are five questions to consider when choosing between color and monochrome weld camera:


1. What kind of welding process are you using?
TIG (GTAW) or Plasma welding benefit most from being viewed in color, simply because there is more color present in those welding processes. Evaluating the color of the torch tip, shielding gas, melt pool and even the Heat Affected Zone can help operators to assess the quality of the weld.

2. What do you want to monitor during welding?
For example, do you want to see certain features, such as the boundary between the end of the torch and the shielding gas and arc? That might help you closely monitor the integrity of the torch tip and avoid contamination.

Or, are you concerned about the amount or type of shielding gas in the process? The shielding gas can sometimes take on a unique color as it is consumed by the welding arc. Changes in the color can signify a change in the gas chemistry and alert operators to the possibility of impurities.

Or is the Heat Affected Zone (HAZ) of interest? The leading edge of the HAZ may become visible as the parent material colorizes at elevated temperatures. This can indicate the amount of heat penetration and energy transfer made during the welding process. Discoloration of the metal can signify the presence of excess heat.

3. Is color more important than resolution?
To generate a color image, the image sensor in the weld camera is “painted” with color filters. Each pixel becomes filtered with red, green or blue light in a standard pattern known as a Bayer pattern. The imaging software then mathematically recombines the pixels into a color image. One drawback of this process is that the resolution of a color image is decreased by approximately half compared to that of a monochrome image.

With higher resolution, monochrome cameras generate images with sharper detail than color cameras. In monochrome images, edges appear crisper and subtle details are more visible—important for assessing the texture of the melt pool, for example. However, the hues in a color image give the human eye the ability to better evaluate boundaries between various weld components, like the melt pool, torch tip and shielding gas.

4. Is camera speed important for your operation?
Despite being lower resolution, color image files are larger than monochrome because each pixel is described by 3 bytes of data, whereas in monochrome images, only 1 byte of data is required. As a result, a color camera often will transmit data slightly slower than a monochrome camera to its output device.

5. Does color provide additional information that can help your welding process?
Everyone’s welding operation is unique. You may have additional features such as guiding markers on your parent material, or wire being fed into the welding process that might be best suited to monochrome or color cameras. Our team can help you to assess your needs and advise whether color or monochrome will work best for your application.

Whatever the operational needs, Xiris’ weld cameras, in either monochrome or color, provide high contrast, clear images of the welding process, allowing manufacturers to quickly and easily monitor their welds for better process control.

Better Images. Better Decisions. Better Process Control.

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Topics: weld inspection, manufacturing, defects, weld monitoring, XVC Weld Camera, HDR, color weld camera, color imaging, weld camera system, welding education, consistent

Picture in a Picture from a Weld Camera!

Posted by Emily Blackborow on Tuesday, March 05, 2019 @ 01:00 PM

Xiris has recently added a powerful new feature to its WeldStudio™ software utility that controls and displays images from its weld cameras: the Picture in a Picture (“PIP”) feature. The PIP Feature allows for two-tone mapping algorithms to be used on different portions of the screen at the same time, one on the full screen and one on an adjustable inset window.  Each tone mapping algorithm will have its own settings to enhance key areas of interest in an associated view. 

The dual tone mapping is performed right in the camera view by using the camera’s onboard image processing capability and the image is streamed to an external device as one image. 

Screenshot of WeldStudio™ with Picture-in-Picture Mode


Window2 PIP

 

The image processing tools inside WeldStudio™ allow the operator to manipulate and measure different  features of the weld, to help make meaningful process decisions. The playback mode allows users to view and manage recorded video offline for further analysis, including the ability to slow and freeze frames, view frame by frame, or manage video transfer to an external device.

The PIP feature ensures that enhanced images can be created with better, localized contrast that improves the visibility of key regions of brighter or darker brightness in the image.  Being able to tone map two regions of interest separately allows the user to see higher contrast image details in a foreground and the background. For example, in welding applications where there is an extreme brightness range between the weld area and its background (such as in electron beam welding or high powered laser welding), a smaller inset foreground window can be placed over the welding arc or spot and be optimized for very bright light localized to that region, while the surrounding darker background can be brightened to see the weld seam, allowing heat affected zones and other darker features to be seen more clearly.

By performing the PIP feature inside the camera, fewer external PC processing resources are needed to process the resulting images. In addition, less data needs to be transmitted between the camera and a PC (lowering network traffic that can be beneficial when using multiple cameras), allowing full frame rate to be maintained with the camera at 55 fps.

Our users will have full control of the brightness settings, window size and location for the foreground inset window independently of the the settings for the background image. This feature has been implemented to work on both color and monochrome versions of the Xiris weld cameras. 

Better Images. Better Decisions. Better Process Control.

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Topics: weld inspection, manufacturing, area of interest, color imaging, weld camera system, welding education, consistent, WeldStudio, PictureInaPicture, PIP

Monitoring Welding Processes in Color

Posted by Justin Grahn on Tuesday, September 13, 2016 @ 12:52 PM

In most situations, a high dynamic range (HDR) image that provides a clear view of the weld arc and immediate work environment is enough to provide operators everything they need to control or adjust their welding process.  Typically, such images are provided in monochrome because, in certain circumstances, it provides better image saturation and fidelity. Monochrome images can accentuate the light and shadows of a welding scene, making the texture of the welding surfaces, torch tip, wire and melt pool easier to see.  Images with a wide range of tonal values, such as what might exist in a high dynamic range image of a welding scene, tend to work well in monochrome.  This is especially the case when the tones in the image range all the way from the blackest blacks of the background to the whitest whites of the welding arc, with lots of varying grey tones in between.

However, for some welding situations, color imaging that delivers high dynamic range imaging has particular value.  The presence of color allows the boundary of aspects of the weld process to be easily detected by the operator.  Bright hues that highlight an element, such as the melt pool, shielding gas or torch tip can improve the visibility of that object to the operator.

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Color Image of a Manual TIG Process

Of all the types of welding, perhaps the most suitable for color imaging is GTAW (TIG).  Some of the features that are better seen with color in a TIG process include:

  • Melt Pool: Better edge definition and detection of flow of molten material.
  • Shielding Gas: Operators are able to see if there is any shielding gas present.  Also, each shielding gas mixture typically has its own signature certain color.  If the gas chemistry in the welding environment changes, then so does its color. 
  • Oxidation: Very easy to detect the presence of flames resulting from the burn-off of any oils or impurities.
  • Heat Affected Zone (HAZ): The leading edge of the heat affected zone can be detected in the parent material as it typically colorizes at elevated temperatures.  This can indicate the amount of heat penetration and energy transfer.
  • Temperature Indicator: Operators can clearly see discoloration of metal due to excess heat in the welding process.
  • Torch Tip: Easier to see the definition of the torch tip and cup relative to the weld arc.  Allows the operator to monitor the impurity build up on the torch tip and spatter presence on the cup.

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Narrow Gap TIG Welding – Color Exposes Different Details

Conclusion

Ultimately, the choice of whether to use color or black and white camera technology depends on what feels right for the operator.  Nevertheless, for certain welding operations such as TIG, the use of color imaging can significantly enhance the clarity and detail of the image, thereby improving the operator’s ability to detect even small changes in the weld scene.

For more information on how Xiris Color Weld Cameras can help monitor your weld processes, visit Xiris.com 

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Topics: quality control, Xiris, welding, High Dynamic Range, TIG, productivity tools, color imaging

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