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Laser profile scanner is faster and easier to configure for gap measurements

03 January 2012

Micro-Epsilon has introduced a non-contact laser profile scanner for the measurement of gaps and edges. The gapCONTROL 2711 incorporates the same hardware and software interfaces as the company’s existing scanCONTROL 2710 and 2810 laser profile sensors, but provides specific application software for gap measurement. This means that users can quickly and easily set up and configure the scanner without requiring any specific knowledge or programming skills.

Measuring gaps can be a very complex task, with different industries using different definitions of the optical gap and how this should be measured and evaluated. However, with gapCONTROL’s new Setup Software the user is guided through sensor set up and configuration very quickly for each gap measurement task.

First, the user selects the basic type of gap to be measured (or gap mode) from a list of common gap types. This pre-selection specifies a start configuration for the chosen gap type. With basic gap types such as ‘edgeless gaps’, no additional configuration of the sensor is required.

For more complex gap types, the sensor’s Setup Software provides predefined, application-specific configuration options, which speed up configuration and allow the user to start collecting measurement results as quickly as possible. Even for dynamic processes, gapCONTROL offers ‘tracking’ functionality, which can be used, for example, to follow the centre position in a seam welding process.
The gapCONTROL Setup Software enables users to save profiles and measurement results (eg gap width). Saved profiles, even without a gapCONTROL sensor connected, can be re-loaded and all evaluation parameters can be tested on this data in offline mode.

There are three different models in the gapCONTROL 2711 range. These measure different gap types up to 300mm deep by 50mm wide. The sensor’s standard outputs are Ethernet or RS422, although other output types are available via the output unit that enables connectivity to be extended in a modular way.

Edgeless Gaps
The gapCONTROL 2711 provides four specific types of gap measurement. With an edgeless gap, the two measurement objects each have a clearly defined end point. These two points are then used as reference points when calculating the gap. The two objects or sheet plates must not be arranged on the same plane but can freely vary in their spatial position. The distance between the two end points is always given as the output. Typical applications include robot welding machines and measuring the flushness of automotive chassis panels or steel plate.
Projected Gaps
A projected gap consists of two objects that are arranged at an angle to one another. Typically, the gap dimension is defined from an edge. The gap dimension and its position from the edge are defined within the sensor software. Projected gap often refers to the fact that one edge is projected onto the second edge in order to obtain a defined gap measurement. Typical applications include welding and joining, measuring flushness or overlap and proximity monitoring (collision avoidance).
General Gaps
For these types of measurements, the ends of the target object are not predefined. The sensor software is used to specify the point from which gap measurement starts. To do this, both points are defined on the profile or projected points are defined with a straight line reference. Typical applications include measuring flushness in automotive interiors.
V-gaps often need to be measured during welding processes on pipelines. This includes gap depth, oscillation width and ‘middle of the gap’ measurements. When assembling the two ends of a pipe, the ends must be accurately aligned to one another. In order to produce a reliable, high quality weld seam, the flanks are prepared to form a ‘V’ and then welded together step by step. For automatic welding, it is important to know the current filling height, as well as the width and centre of the gap. The precise guidance of the welding head is determined from this data. The most important weld characteristics can be selected and calculated in one measurement and then output.

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