Quality Magazine

Quality Innovations: Inspection at Your Fingertips

February 26, 2010
The IM-6000 Series performs up to 99 distinct measurements with the press of a button. Source: Keyence


Keyence’s (Woodcliff Lake, NJ) new IM-6000 Series inspection system combines two areas of quality. “For years, Keyence has been making measurement products that go on a production line and digital microscopes that go in a quality lab,” says Michael Montgomery, Keyence Corp.’s assistant technical marketing manager of advanced solution technology (AST). “[The IM-6000 Series] fills a niche between those two areas.”

In the past, when quality personnel wanted to do a quality check, they had to take a part off the production line and walk it to the lab. By having the new IM-6000 machine on hand, with a footprint close to that of an 11-inch by 17-inch piece of paper, they are able to measure the part directly at their location.

“It’s really caught on,” Montgomery says, “especially in this era, as it saves time and money.”

After a long development period, Keyence released the product last September, and Montgomery says reaction has been better than expected. The company has been surprised by the customer reaction. Keyence thought the machine’s accuracy-±0.5 micron repetition for the high-resolution version and ±1 micron for the regular version-would be the main attraction, but customers thus far have been more interested in the speed and the fact that they do not have to carefully position the part.

Using the IM-6000 is straightforward. An operator places the parts to be measured on the IM’s sample tray-no positioning is necessary-and presses the measurement button. Then an intelligent pattern analysis search system (iPASS) quickly and automatically locates, identifies and measures parts placed anywhere within the unit’s 100-millimeter field of view, thus eliminating the need for an X-Y stage. A part evaluation library stores the images, measurement functions and specifications of parts and provides automatic pattern search, part recognition and measurement without setup the next time inspection of the same parts is performed.

“Let’s say that you make 10 different parts on a particular line,” Montgomery says. “The unit will find the part in its memory, recognize it and position itself.”

Keyence originally anticipated the product to catch on in the stamping and high-precision metalworking applications. In fact, it has been popular with the medical industry, as medical device quality standards tend to be more stringent than in many other applications. The system can be used for applications in a range of industrial categories and company sizes. Small- to medium-sized tooling and machine shops to large semiconductor, automotive and aerospace manufacturing, inspection and assembly operations, could benefit from this system.

The system, of course, is not for everyone.

For example, the system does not work if the part is too big to fit on the stand’s 4-inch area, Montgomery says, and for the most part, it should be treated as a device for checking quality, not for inspecting every part. It is not automated into the system and therefore is more suited to quality sampling.

The system performs up to 99 distinct measurements with the press of a button. High-precision image acquisition and sub-pixel processing allows measurement of features that were previously impossible to inspect with traditional dimensional measurement systems. Measurements such as angle, radius, inner and outer diameter, circular and linear pitch are several of the IM’s capabilities. Image processing using such functions as least square fitting and abnormal data point removal provides accurate and reliable data.

The IM-6000 also eliminates the need for optical comparators, X-Y stages for part positioning, computer numerical control (CNC) measuring devices, as well as measuring and stereo microscopes. It shortens the setup and measurement time of conventional systems, allowing operators to begin collecting data minutes after setup.

While similar systems are available now, they do not have this system’s features or price. The IM-Series price point is considerably lower than many devices offering the same functionality, as Keyence offers a normal and a high-resolution version. Though the high-resolution option is more expensive, Montgomery says it has proven popular with customers who need to measure very small parts with a high degree of accuracy.


For more information, contact:

Michael Montgomery

Keyence Corp.

1100 N. Arlington Heights Rd., Suite 350

Itasca, IL 60143

(888) 539-3623 ext. 80411

Specifications

  • Image pickup device: 1-inch 6.6 megapixel monochrome complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS)
  • Display: 10.4-inch LCD
  • Light receiving lens: Double telecentric lens
  • Measurement points: Maximum of 99 points
  • Hard disk drive: 160 gigabytes (GB)
  • Illumination system:
  • Transparent: Telecentric transparent illumination (Green LED)
  • Epi-illumination: Four division ring illumination (White LED)