Award Winners 2008

Springing into Action

In almost every area of our daily life, they ensure the right  movement of mechanical parts: springs. We encounter  them, for instance, as an extension spring in a drawer or as a  compression spring in the switch used for stairwell lighting. In a car alone there are some 8,000 springs. Quality and accuracy are therefore considered an integral element of the production process.

WAFIOS AG in Reutlingen is a world leader in machinery for wire  and tube processing, which also includes spring coiling machines. In collaboration with the Steinbeis Transfer Center Quality  Assurance and Image Processing in Ilmenau, engineers from both companies developed an innovative, userfriendly image processing system for full quality control in spring production. The system tests each of up to 600 springs per minute for dimensional  features such as length and diameter. For this purpose, an image of the spring is taken directly prior to cutting. While the spring falls, the special analysis software has approx. 50 ms time to measure these features in the image and compare them with the  control and tolerance limits.

If, for example, the spring is longer, the software intervenes in the  process and corrects the spring length automatically so that the next spring is of the right length again. On reaching the tolerance  limit, this spring is rejected via a special ejector unit.

This highly specialized system is also easy to use for the machine operator. He can create a new quality control test automatically each time a spring has new dimensional features using an analysis button  and requires no special background knowledge of the image processing system.

Integrating the hard- and software completely into the existing environment represented a considerable challenge. However, this was achieved with a short time frame by the staff of both companies.

Project Partners

  • Steinbeis Transfer Center Quality Assurance and Image Processing/Ilmenau

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