The Xiris Blog

Post-Secondary Schools Increase Trade Resources and Improve Student Experience

Posted by Cornelius Sawatzky on Wednesday, July 02, 2014 @ 04:16 PM

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.

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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.

 

Topics: weld inspection, Machine Vision, camera placement, field of view, welding instruction, quality control, weld camera, weld camera, Education, Welding Process, weld video, Xiris, welding, Conestoga College, NAIT

How System Integrators Use Xiris Weld Cameras in Automation

Posted by Cameron Serles on Tuesday, June 10, 2014 @ 03:15 PM

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. 

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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.

Topics: remote monitoring, welding automation, weld environment, Machine Vision, camera placement, field of view, quality control, weld camera, Welding Process, Xiris

Using a Weld Camera to Monitor Tandem MIG Welding

Posted by Cameron Serles on Monday, February 24, 2014 @ 02:01 PM

Tandem MIG/MAG welding is a beneficial material processing application for many fabricators because it can weld at higher speed with higher deposition rates than traditional single wire MIG/MAG processes, while reducing heat input and improving weld penetration on thicker materials.  But it also demands a level of precision that necessitates detailed, real-time monitoring of the weld process.

Advanced Weld Cameras can provide this level of monitoring, allowing fabricators to gain the advantages of the Tandem MIG/MAG process without any sacrifice in productivity or quality. In fact, Weld Cameras with High Dynamic Range imaging can improve output and quality control.

The Tandem (or Twin) MIG/MAG Welding Process

In a Tandem MIG/MAG welding process, two wires are continuously fed through a special welding torch and are consumed to form a single weld puddle.  The first or leading wire controls the deposition rate and penetration.  The second or trailing wire controls the weld bead appearance.  The wires are controlled independently through separate power supplies and/or waveforms to achieve different results. 

Typical applications of tandem MIG/MAG welding include automotive, construction, shipbuilding, pressure vessel welding aluminum, steel and other materials. Weld overlays have also been deposited using this technique.

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Tandem MIG/MAG Weld Process

(courtesy Fronius AG)

 

Why use a Weld Camera?

Tandem MIG/MAG welding can only be used for automated welding processes because of the accuracy required in positioning the bulky torch and the limited accessibility for direct viewing of the weld process that it offers.  A weld camera is therefore an essential productivity aid to allow operators to monitor the quality of the weld process and its surrounding environment, including:

 - Ensuring that the welding torch is suitably rigid and following the seam properly

 - Ensure that safe and consistent wire feed does not compromise the high speed advantages of the tandem process

 - Ensure that consistent welding conditions are maintained to obtain a smooth weld bead.

 - Ensure that a minimum weld pool size is maintained to provide proper wetting of the bead

 - Ensure that the power supplies of the two different wires are functioning correctly to create the best quality molten weld pool.

 - Monitor the completed weld bead for indications of a good tandem weld process:  clean seam surfaces, flush weld toes, and minimal welding spatter

 

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View of a Tandem MIG Process Using a Xiris Weld Camera

 

Conclusion:

Integrating Weld Cameras into a Tandem MIG/MAG welding process is essential to creating a high-quality, high-speed, state-of-the-art welding cell.  Fabricators can gain a competitive advantage by being able to better monitor the high speed welding process, providing better process control.  The net result is that they can leverage their investment in a Tandem MIG/MAG process to achieve better results.

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Topics: High Dynamic Range, field of view, quality control, weld camera, Education, MIG/MAG, Welding Process

Better Images, Better Instruction, Better Welding Students!

Posted by Cameron Serles on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 @ 03:50 PM

Training a new group of welding students can have a number of challenges for even the best instructors: getting all the students around the weld head to be able to see what is going on; a limited number of hours the instructor has available for actually performing the welding; how to see all the features of the weld arc as well as the background information, and how to make sure that all students are marked fairly and objectively. 

When educating welding students, providing them with the ability to view the detail of the weld tip as well as the environment around the weld tip (such as the weld seam and weld pool) is important for them to learn all the parameters of the welding process.  To overcome the visual monitoring challenges created by the presence of a very bright light source (the weld arc), as well as dark areas in the image (the background around the weld tip), a camera with a wide dynamic range of imaging is required.  Reliable visualization of the environment around the weld tip is necessary to control and adjust the welding process found on most modern welding processes.  In addition, the ability to record video and play it back to the students can provide multiple benefits for teaching and correcting welding techniques.

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Image courtesy of Casper College

They Can’t All See the Details…. 

New developments in electronics has led to the creation of a new type of camera that is able to accommodate the full range of light present at a weld head during welding, allowing welding to be taught in a way it has never been taught before!

By providing a good quality image of the weld tip and background, welding instructors and their students can remotely monitor a weld demonstration and record the results for off-line feedback.  By using a camera to view the weld demonstration, the students can verify that the tip is in position and that all the welding inputs (welding wire, shielding gas, etc.) are being properly fed.  Because the area around the weld demonstration is typically quite congested for class sizes more than a few students, using a camera mounted at the welding tip allows the students to clearly view the welding process remotely.  The video can also be replayed back, off-line in the classroom for instruction, marking or review purposes. 

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The Solution: a Xiris XVC-O View Camera for Teaching Welding

 Conclusion

Using a View Cameras in the classroom to teach welding results in:

  • —  A more Enjoyable Learning Experience for the Students
  • —  Less Time Required to Achieve Results
  • —  Reduced Material Consumption
  • —  A Video Library of Standard Applications for Review / Consulting / Analysis
  • —  Easier to Explain New Welding Techniques
  • —  Better Support for Students’ Technical Projects
  • —  Research Tool

Join the growing number of Welding Educational Institutions who have added a Xiris XVC-O View Camera to their classrooms. Improve welding instruction and achieve the numerous benefits!

To read educator's personal testimonials below

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For more information on how Xiris Weld Cameras can augment your welding education program, please visit Xiris.com 

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Topics: remote monitoring, weld camera, weld inspection, Laser welding, Machine Vision, image processing, field of view, welding instruction, Education, High Dynamic Range, laser-based monitoring, image contrast

Xiris at ABB Robotics Technology Days: March 13-14, 2014

Posted by Cornelius Sawatzky on Thursday, February 06, 2014 @ 11:44 AM

Our team at Xiris is looking forward to the upcoming ABB Robotics Technology Days, held on March 13th and 14th, 2014 in Auburn Hills, Michigan. We invite you to join us at the Technology Days and Open House to learn more about developments in the field of Robotics.

The Technology Days event will give individuals the chance to learn about the industry through a variety of seminars and training sessions. Over 80 products demonstrations will be on site throughout the two day event, Xiris’ XVC-O Weld Camera being one of them. The event will also be an excellent opportunity to meet other industry professionals and explore how new technology is being used in a variety of applications, such as Metal Fabrication.

Our team will be presenting during the event, discussing the use of a new camera that is able to accommodate the full range of light present at a weld head during welding. Using a logarithmic HDR camera to monitor the welding or cutting process remotely allows the process to be monitored live while keeping the user out of harm’s way. By providing a good quality image of the weld point, pool and background, the operator can remotely monitor the welding process, verify that the point is in position and monitor that the process is performing well.  Because the area around the Laser or Laser Hybrid weld point is typically quite congested or too dangerous to have an operator directly monitor while under operation, a camera mounted at the welding point allows the operator to view the welding process remotely in a safe environment. Video can also be recorded and stored for auditing, troubleshooting and/or training purposes making the camera system an effective tool in production as well as engineering departments.

Take a look at ABB Robotics Technology Days 2013 in the following video.

 

We hope you will have the chance to join us, and look forward to seeing what this year’s event has in store! To register for the event or learn more, click here for more information. 

Topics: remote monitoring, High Dynamic Range, field of view, quality control, weld camera

The Technology Behind Every Xiris System

Posted by Cameron Serles on Tuesday, January 21, 2014 @ 03:42 PM

Every machine vision system developed by Xiris is based upon an internal image processing library developed by Xiris over a 20 year period including thousands of hours of coding and testing.  The library has been built up to include a number of key algorithms to perform specific imaging tasks, and includes a number of tools created for maximum specification.

 Pattern Match Tool

Figure 1: This image demonstrates the capabilities of the Pattern match tool

The Edge Tools are used to very precisely locate single edges or edge pairs in a straight line or along an arc.  Best used for precisely gauging the distance between two edges or object location (finding one or two edges precisely to locate a corner, or feature), the software has been scientifically proven in a lab environment to be accurate to better than 1/20th of a pixel.

The Blob Tool is used to perform shape analysis of randomly oriented objects in an image with over 60 different measured features.  It can be used to determine if object meets specific criteria with individual thresholds available for each parameter to quickly select the features of interest, including: Area, Perimeter, Equivalent Diameter, Centroid, Orientation, Second Moments, Bounding Box, Circularity, Eccentricity and many others.

The Pattern Match (or Search) Tool, as shown above, is used to perform pattern matching by locating two dimensional objects in a very accurate manner (1/4 pixel or better).  The Pattern Match Tool is very useful when trying to find an object in a complex scene. Additionally, this tool can be used to determine how well an object matches its ideal, or golden part. 

Used to identify lighting variations, the Light Meter (or Histogram) Tool monitors overall intensity changes or simple part presence. Another important application of this tool is the modification of the Brightness or Contrast of the overall image.

Print Inspection uses a golden template pattern, built over a series of taught images, to compare with the image under inspection.  The Euclidean distance between each overlaid pixel is analyzed to determine if the image under inspection meets with predefined defect criteria.  During the teaching phase, the tool automatically determines appropriate inspection thresholds for each pixel.

Color Tools can be used to verify or recognize a region of color on a component by comparing the candidate color to a series of pre-taught, or known colors.  The color processing can be done inRGB (Red, Green, Blue), HLS (Hue, Luminance, Saturation), CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black), XYZ or other color spaces.  These tools are often used for product identification, print image quality, feature analysis.

Symbology Tools help read or verify various types of symbols, including multi-format 1-D and two-D bar codes, as well as Optical Character Verification and Recognition.  Characters can be verified or recognized down to 24x24 pixels in size.

Other tools in our software package include Temporal Tools, which can track position over time, a number of Surface Inspection tools, which range from feature detection to defect classification, and 3D Imaging with the use of Laser Triangulation, used to extract the 3-dimensional shape of a surface

Our other Image Processing Tools are used to enhance an image for the benefit of an operator, including morphology (shape based processing such as erosion/dilation or opening/closing), and neighborhood processing using convolutions, including: Sobel, Averaging, Sharpening, Low Pass, Median, Watershed, and others.

All of these tools were created to help the operator make better decisions based upon what they are able to monitor. By using its own software imaging library in its machine vision systems, Xiris is able to provide custom algorithms to suit some very specific market requirements, achieving greater speed and performance benefits that would be otherwise unavailable were a general purpose imaging library to be used. The customizable nature of this software toolkit makes a Xiris system essential for a variety of applications. 

 

Have an application that could benefit from these tools? Contact us, we always welcome the opportunity to discuss new initiatives! 

 

Topics: remote monitoring, camera selection, weld inspection, Machine Vision, High Dynamic Range, field of view, image contrast, image processing, quality control, laser-based monitoring, weld camera, weld camera

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