Vol.11 no.3 2019

Research paper : Development and commercialization of laser inspection system to detect surface aws of machined holes (S. OKADA et al.)−140−Synthesiology - English edition Vol.11 No.3 (2018) plan. In the case of this project, since the research funds were the matching funds provided by the private company and AIST, necessary items could be procured quickly without concern of the budget, and so the development progressed quickly.5 Start of laser defect inspection system business and commercialization of ANALYZERIn 2005, Sigma newly established the Division of Laser Defect Inspection System, started sales of the laser defect inspection system, and steadily increased sales from six systems in 2006 to 11 in 2007. To strengthen the sales, Esaki assumed the position of Division Manager. However, hit suddenly by the economic recession due to the Lehman Shock of October 2008, the device did not sell well, the performance of the main business dipped greatly, and the collaborative research unit faced a major crossroad of whether to continue or to retreat from the defect inspection business. As a measure to discern the future of the project, Esaki set off to visit the companies that purchased the system as well as other machining companies to survey the potential demands for the laser defect inspection system. He found that there was large, unexpected potential demand for the inspection of small holes with inner diameters of 20 mm or less that was outside the target of this system, and that there was need to shorten the inspection time per part from the conventional 30 sec to within 10 sec in order to match the on-site cycle time, because there were many holes that had to be inspected in the small bore hole inspection for automobile parts. These points were noted, and the collaborative research unit proposed the continuation of business to the President and suggested that essential modication be made during the recession, such as reducing the size of the inspection probe and achieving high-speed inspection. These were put to immediate practice after Fig. 14 Modication of inspection probeFig. 15 Example of developed defect inspection systemOptical berSmall diameter probe (probe diameter of 6 mm)High-speed hollow motor (15,000 rpm)ANALYZER robotANALYZER (probe diameter 2.3 mmΦ)ANALYZER (probe diameter 6 mmΦ)receiving a green light from the President.For the achievement of high-speed inspection, instead of the belt-driven method using an external motor that was the damper to high speed, we newly developed a hollow motor that enabled high-speed rotation of the probe. As a result, the rotation of the inspection probe was increased to about 10 times or 15,000 rpm, and we succeeded in shortening the inspection time to the target 10 sec or less.Next, for decreasing the probe size, Sigma newly developed a small diameter probe based on AIST’s advice. As shown in Fig. 14, the position of the optical ber was changed, and the tip was changed from L-shape to straight. The probe diameter was reduced to 6 mm, but to supplement the decrease of receiving light intensity accompanying the reduced number of optical fibers, the photodiode that photoelectrically converted the received reflection light was changed to a high-sensitivity, and high-speed element. By reducing the probe diameter, the obtainable inspection images were only scattered light images, but the level of completion of the product remarkably improved by strengthening the feature value analysis function for the planar form of the abnormal part that surpassed the threshold and by improving the algorithm, and so the defect judgment condition could be adjusted nely.[9]By 2010, the economy was clearly recovering, and Esaki restarted sales by naming the product ANALYZER (this is a play on words in which a Japanese word, “ana,” for holes is used). The orders came in widely from not only the automobile related companies but also companies of various businesses, and the number of sales increased rapidly. Matching users’ demands, a standard type of a diameter of 6 mm, a thin type of a diameter of 2.3 mm, and an ANALYZER robot were developed and sold successively. The sales results reached over 200 systems in total.

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