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PTFE hose production automated with inspection system

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A leading manufacturer of PTFE hose used in the automotive industry has integrated a vision inspection system designed by Olmec-UK into its extrusion line at its UK manufacturing facility. Capable of continuous inspection of the hose travelling at speeds up to 6 metres per minute, the vision system is linked to a novel failure mechanism which catastrophically destroys defective product by puncturing the hose at the point any defect is detected so that it will later fail a high pressure test.

The vision system features four cameras arranged at 90° to each other with the tube travelling through the centre so that the entire outer surface of the tube can be imaged. This allows high-speed detection of flaws such as foreign matter, cracks, burrs and blistering, overcoming limitations presented by human inspection and pressure leak detection. It can inspect both virgin PTFE and carbon-lined hoses. Different diameter tubes may be inspected without setup changes.

The system is fully integrated into the extrusion line control system and features a simple-to-use intuitive graphical interface. All defects are detected, whether cosmetic or likely to cause failure and identified accordingly. Defect location reports can be produced, or the tube automatically punctured at the defect point. The tube will then fail at the high pressure testing stage allowing the defective region to be cut out.

The new vision system has replaced manual inspection of the hoses and resulted in a significant improvement in the quality of the product reaching the customer. Robert Pounder, technical director at Olmec-UK, said: ‘The system we have developed has potential for applications in many different industries. It can be used wherever 360° inspection of hose, pipe or tubing is required.’

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