Confocal system for high volume OEM and production environments
22 May 2017
Micro-Epsilon has launched a new range of confocal controllers for distance and thickness measurement applications.
Available in a single or a new dual-channel version, the sub-micrometer resolution controllers offer high accuracy, enabling the cost effective use of confocal measurement technology in high volume applications for machine builders, system integrators and continuous production environments.
The new entry level confocal controllers are designed to offer a high resolution, high accuracy solution where alternative solutions such as laser triangulation and other optical measurement sensors are measuring at their limits. The new IFC2421 and IFC2422 controllers offer the high precision that comes with the confocal chromatic measurement principle yet at an affordable price, making them ideal for applications where the higher specifications of the confocal IFC2461 & 71 series are not needed.
Features of the IFC2421 and IFC2422
The confocalDT IFC2421 controller is a single channel controller, while the confocalDT IFC2422 controller is a two-channel version where both channels are evaluated simultaneously.
Both controllers offer a variety of features and benefits, including ease of use via a web interface; fast configuration via pre-defined user setups; high speed compensation feature for difficult, changing surfaces; thickness calibration; adjustable measuring rate from 100Hz up to 6.5kHz; and Ethernet, EtherCAT, RS422 and analogue outputs.
The controllers can be offered as a standard version for distance measurements or as a multi-peak version for multi-layer thickness measurement. Configuration is carried out by the intuitive web interface, so there is no need for any additional software.
IFC2422 is designed as a two-channel version. The dual channel feature enables evaluations from both channels simultaneously and at the full measurement rate. This can be of particular benefit in process control tasks such as shape or geometrical measurements of glass bottles and containers, or where the cost advantages of the two-channel version are important for the customer.
Chris Jones, Managing Director at Micro-Epsilon UK Ltd commented: “The dual-channel version of the controller allows two confocal sensors to be connected to a single controller. The controller is then able to calculate and output differential measurements from each sensor, such as step height, parallelism, flatness and thickness. Having only one controller means easier installation and a lower cost solution. This is of particular interest in price-sensitive applications such as glass bottle and container production, pharmaceutical product production or any other application where confocal sensor technology was previously cost-prohibitive.”
Simple set up and operation
The all-metal, DIN rail mountable controllers are designed for use in OEM and continuous production applications across all industry sectors, particularly glass, semiconductor, plastics, medical and other high precision applications. They are simple to set up and operate, and the user can remotely configure measurement channels using the intuitive, web-based software via Ethernet. The user does not need to install any other measurement software.
The controllers can be used with all Micro-Epsilon confocal sensors, including the latest miniature 4mm diameter confocal sensors in axial or radial versions. In addition, because the controllers were developed in-house by Micro-Epsilon, they benefit from the company’s vast experience in the development of high speed, high precision optical sensors. The controllers have a rugged industrial design and use a high performance CCD array as the sensor element.
In addition, whereas most conventional confocal controllers use an integral fan and air vents in order to cool the controller during operation, the confocalDT IFC2421 and IFC2422 controllers use a passive cooling system that does not require a fan or air vents. This greatly improves the controller’s protection rating and longevity.
The confocal measurement principle is designed for high accuracy, non-contact displacement, distance and position measurement against any surface: solid, transparent, polished mirrored surfaces, low reflective matt surfaces and even liquids. Almost all industries benefit from this measurement principle as it can be used in both R&D and in-process measurements. In particular, the semiconductor, micro-lens, automotive parts, medical, glass, and MEMS industries use this sensor technology in many different ways.
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