Currently, the lack of volumetric quality control solutions causes high volumes of products to be taken out of circulation as a precaution and as such, wasted in many sectors. To overcome challenges related to the non-destructive time- and cost-efficient detection of product defects, iXCon plans to develop a breakthrough in high-throughput, industrial quality control to allow for fast 3D volumetric evaluation of each product on the conveyor belt. In three use cases, the project will demonstrate that the iXCon methodology is useful in both agricultural processing as well as the wider manufacturing sector.
Looking inside products without destroying them in the process
Volumetric 3D imaging with X-rays is capable of detecting inner product defects without destroying the product in the process. However, traditional computed tomography (CT) systems are relatively slow and expensive, making them nonviable solutions in comprehensively evaluating the internal quality of products as they move along a conveyor belt, typically at high speed. Now, iXCon will enable 3D inspection in agricultural and manufacturing industries by adapting CT to conveyor line applications.
A combination of sensing techniques makes it possible
iXCon will develop highly efficient methods to perform full 3D volumetric analysis of products passing on a conveyor belt. X-ray imaging and machine learning will be combined with data gathered by optical, laser and thermal sensors and product information – such as statistical shape and CAD models – in the iXCon methodology. Through this combination of techniques, the aim is to achieve a level of 3D quality control that has never been seen before.
Reducing costs and keeping Flanders competitive in a global marketplace
To show that the methodology developed can be applied to real-life industry situations, iXCon aims to successfully perform:
- robotized rooting of agricultural products that have irregular structures;
- quality control of native fruit by inspecting the entire fruit;
- quality control of small medical devices to reveal hidden defects.
The project focuses on enabling applications that will benefit significantly from a vastly improved 3D quality control system. How? By improving their processes, reducing waste and thus helping Flanders’ producers and manufacturers stay competitive. iXCon will also ensure that reliable inspections are carried out in full 3D based on a small set of images in the interest of speed, and that the setup will be as simple, intuitive and cost-effective as possible.
"iXCon aims for a breakthrough in industrial quality control by developing an affordable, reliable system that combines x-ray imaging and sensor-based data. The system will be able to detect details in the shapes of agricultural products and small devices on the product line, for less waste and increased competitiveness of Flemish industries."
Industrial X-ray CT for high-throughput quality control
iXCon is an imec.icon research project funded by imec and Agentschap Innoveren & Ondernemen.
It started on 01.10.2016 and is set to run until 30.09.2018.
- X-Ray Engineering bvba
- Terumo Europe
- UGent - Radiation Physics
- KU Leuven - MeBioS
- imec - Vision Lab - UAntwerpen
- Project Lead: Denis Van Loo
- Research Lead: Jan De Beenhouwer
- Innovation Manager: Piet Verhoeve