CSIRO online dark speck contamination detector
CSIRO’s online dark speck contamination detector helps Australian nonwovens manufacturers produce high quality healthcare products.
22 September 2008 | Updated 14 October 2011
The international healthcare market is highly competitive and cost conscious. Australian companies must produce high quality products demonstrating innovative technology to achieve a competitive edge in this sector.
Victorian textile manufacturer, Textor Textile Technologies, commissioned a new healthcare production line for diaper surge layer materials.
Textor needed to be able to provide guarantees to its international clients that its healthcare product was 100 per cent contamination free.
The company commissioned CSIRO Materials Science & Engineering, Fibre and Textile Engineering group to develop an innovative instrument to detect and eliminate contaminated material on the medical fabrics during high-speed production.
The design specification included a number of challenges. The dark speck contamination detector had to:
find and eliminate specks while the material was being processed at 500 meters per minute
detect contamination which varied from barely visible to very large
inspect both sides of the fabric at once at high speed.
What CSIRO did
A team at CSIRO, led by Dr Stuart Lucas, developed the online dark speck contamination detector which is a continuous computerized inspection system that provides accurate quality assurance in the production of nonwovens healthcare fabrics.
Key to the technology is the image illumination and acquisition system, which consists of balanced lighting and a high-speed digital camera arranged in such a way as to ensure the system is not sensitive to changes in ambient lighting conditions.
CSIRO installed the online dark speck contamination detector at Textor Textile Technologies’ nonwoven production plant.
The system uses a camera and lighting system above and below the fabric, one before a slitting station in the production line and one immediately after it.
The core component of the software is a collection of highly efficient image processing algorithms and a software architecture which is able to easily meet the very high throughput requirements of 15 milli-seconds per frame.
All data is logged to a database which can then be queried to generate various product quality reports as demanded by the customer
Web width variation
Although the instrument proved that it could enable the production of fault-free fabric, the company found that the physical width of the material varied a small amount during production. A method was needed to isolate where the variation was occurring.
Dr Lucas modified the contamination detection device to measure this new variable during high-speed production.
The detection device proved flexible enough to be able to measure this new variable.
Any variation detected indicated that something was wrong with the process. Elimination of these variations enabled the company to produce near perfect fabrics.
Dr Lucas has developed a state-of-the-art computerized inspection and quality control system capable of continuously monitoring nonwoven fabrics for the medical and healthcare markets.
What the system does
The system automatically:
sets the software to stop the machine when a dark speck or a width-out-of-tolerance event occurs
records the location of a fault and displays it as a distance from the end of the spool allowing the operators to unwind and remove faults at the precise location
logs all measurement and operator events
graphically displays width measurements in real time on the touch screen
detects visible dark-coloured faults down to 1 square millimetre, on a fabric running at a speed of up to 500 metres per minute
detects out of tolerance strip-width resolution of 1 millimetre.
The device has been running in a nonwoven factory, manufacturing diaper surge layer material, for more than two years.
During this time several refinements have been made to:
Elimination of width variations normally causing trimmed wastage of ten millimetres each side, has improved nonwovens production rate by four per cent.
Customer satisfaction in a high quality product has assisted a Victorian textile manufacturer to compete in the healthcare product market in Asia and grow their position in a fiercely competitive environment.
Innovation and advanced manufacturing award
Dr Lucas was awarded a Chamber of Commerce Innovation and Advanced Manufacturing Award at the Smart Geelong Network’s 2007 Researcher of the Year Awards, for his work on developing this state-of-the-art computerized inspection and quality control system capable of continuously monitoring nonwoven fabrics for the medical and healthcare markets.
Find out more about Dr Stuart Lucas: robotics and instrument maker.