Lining up the process
With the loading complete, the Delta CNC controller triggers the machine to move the piece in question to the cutting area and triggers the Matrox Iris GTR camera, which takes a series of images and calculates the position and angle of the piece. The smart camera then performs the analysis, sending the results back to the CNC controller. If the data is correct and meets the previously determined criteria, the CNC will start cutting; if not, the CNC will revise the position and angle of the piece until it is correct, then begin capturing and analyzing the images again until successful. In the case of G4’s application, if the relative position between the GMF tool position and the position of the piece is incorrect, the controller can realign the piece multiple times until the position and angle are correct. Operator interaction with the system is minimal, with the operator monitoring the CNC as it works on the piece.
Engineering a solution
Development of this vision system involved three key individuals: an engineer from G4 Technology who wrote the sample code for the application, as well as an electrical/mechanical engineer and a software engineer from one of the CNC machine manufacturers who collaborated on this development. Said Ko, “We did not encounter any big challenges during the application development process. Still, it took time to think through and verify the algorithm to ensure we could get the correct cutting path in a consistent fashion.”
Shaving off time while enhancing accuracy
With their previous system, performing this type of machining alignment would take between 30 to 60 seconds per piece to get a correct processing path. With their new Matrox Imaging-based solution, Ko noted that “it now takes around 15 seconds to complete the same analysis, therefore we have increased the output speed by anywhere from two to four times. And, since the pieces being cut need to be scrapped if they are cut on the incorrect path, we have seen an increase in cutting accuracy of 5-10% with this new system. G4 Technology couldn’t be more pleased.”
Their application successfully developed and validated, G4 Technology had planned to showcase their success at the 2020 Taiwan International Machine Tool Show; however, the global pandemic has curtailed those plans. That noted, “the use cases for this application are wide ranging, and we anticipate finding other such applications for the machine tool industry, focusing on visual inspection and measurement. We also foresee many possible applications in the field of machine and robot guidance,” Ko concludes. “Thanks to Matrox Imaging’s machine vision tools, we can now be fully confident in delivering a precise processing path for machining, and improve customer yield rates while guarding them against material loss with this CNC upgrade.”