If anyone has an eye for quality – literally, including for plastic piping systems – then it has to be the experts at the Steinbeis quality assurance and image processing enterprise Qualitätssicherung und Bildverarbeitung GmbH. The team from Ilmenau has developed an innovative testing process for checking plastic pipes. It’s a tube dimension testing device called PipeTest that makes it possible to run random checks on pipes and ascertain internal and external diameters, wall thickness, ovality, and random anomalies in wall thickness. The experts also have a quality testing device that works “inline” (during live production) called PipeScan, which makes it possible to run 100% checks on external diameters as well as surface defects on plastic pipes.
The testing devices are easy to operate and extremely robust meaning they can be used directly on production lines. The measurements taken by the PipeTest device are tactile and taken at random. With PipeScan, testing is contactless using an optical system on the production line. The devices come with comprehensive, user-friendly software for taking automatic measurements and evaluating 100% or pipes inline. Alternatively, a random testing station can be set up. PipeScan and PipeTest can be provided in a number of varieties to cover different diameter ranges.
Both devices are suitable for different types of materials and can be used on pipes with diameters of 9-32 mm or 40-110 mm. If required, they can even test pipes of up to 125 mm. The system works by examining extruded pipes as they pass through the PipeScan testing station using three linear CCD cameras positioned around all sides. These assess the diameter, surface abnormalities such as dents, bubbles, or lacerations, and color variations. The fault tolerance can be set for all kinds of surface defects with a minimum detection area of 0.05 mm².
The system can also continuously measure internal and external pipe diameters. If an error is detected, the device is equipped with a visual and acoustic alarm. A recent software even allows for differentiation between innocuous water droplets and actual defects. To set parameters, operate the system, and view and assess test results, the system comes with an application called PipeScan 2.0. The testing devices deliver high performance which is reflected in the fast throughput rate of 36 m/min and the experts at Steinbeis have already carried out testing with speeds of up to 72 m/min.
If required, a recent addition to PipeTest gives the option of measuring surface roughness (longitudinal scoring). It also allows operators to monitor signal and tolerance limits using a traffic light system to give feedback on material quality in green, amber, or red. “These testing devices are extremely user-friendly and sturdy, so they’re practically error-free. Introducing our innovative quality testing equipment requires absolutely minimal training and the measurement times are quick,” says Steffen Lübbecke, managing director of Steinbeis Qualitätssicherung und Bildverarbeitung GmbH, summarizing the advantages of using the system.
The testing devices can be managed through standard industrial PCs using Windows. To operate, graph, and evaluate test results, the system comes with user-friendly software called PipeTest and PipeScan. The system is set up for interfacing with enterprise IT networks and CAQ systems. The Steinbeis experts have also developed a remote control and data transfer via internet protocol, and MS Access or MS SQL Server®R2 can be used as databases.