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Profile measurement and laser and camera techniques for the tyre industry

Dr. H. Suhr, Dr. Noll GmbH, Feilbingert, Germany Modern optical measurement systems using lasers and cameras improves and stabilises the product quality in the tyre industry. It needs many years of experience to optimise the usage of camera and laser systems for the special measuring tasks of the black caoutchouc material. The general aspect by using laser systems as well as for camera system in industrial environment, especially in the tyre industry is, that the sensors and the complete system should be independent from effects due to temperature changes, soiling, vibrations and rough user control. But the most important problem of optical systems is to run with small amounts of light. But this is a fact in the tyre industry due to the black caoutchouc material. With special designed laser and camera systems and well suited illuminations this problem will be under control. Section one describes the systems for the tread extrusion line, section B gives examples for semifinished material excluding treads and section C for finished tyres. A) Systems for the extrusion line A.1) Thickness measurement; Undercushion; Gap-control The thickness measurement and control, as shown in fig. 1, is the main field of application for laser sensor. The main features of this kind of sensor in comparison to others are: Non contact measurement Large working distance Independent from electric material behaviours (e.g. proportion of graphite) Small measurement point High measuring frequency Independent to electromagnetic radiation
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Fig 1) Thickness measurement with laser displacement sensor

An typical application is the thickness control of endless material and the gap control at calenders. As shown by fig. 1a the thickness can be measured with a roll as reference, or using a second laser to measuring the bottom side of the product. An extended measuring system is shown in fig. 1b, where two sensors measuring the reference point at the roll and two sensors measures at the material. The inclination of the roll and the changes of the reference roll can be taken into account by this system. Different measuring ranges are possible. As example, for a measuring ranges of 4mm a resolution of 1m (0,00004)is possible. The accuracy reachable at black lustrous caoutchouc surfaces for this measuring range is 20m (0,0008).

Low end systems are realised as basic electronic units processing the sensor signals. with RS232 and analogue output lines. High end system are PC-based, with output lines realised as RS232, RS485, Profibus-DP or CAN-Bus. By this way thickness measurement systems can be incorporated into the pants quality control. Documentation and evaluation of statistical results are possible. A.2)Tread profile measurement; Online In the extrusion line laser profile measurement systems allows the continuos controlling of the tread production process. The complete profile (cross-section) of the tread will be surveyed. Thickness changes, due to changes in the production process or due to foreign substances (e.g. screws) behind the die, will be detected. The continuous comparison with a teached nominal profile, stored in the system's computer, gives a process history and enables the line staff to act before the product is running out of tolerances. The continuos thickness control allows to run very close to the optimal product thickness, saving a lot of raw material. Fig. 2 shows the measurement principle. Two laser sensors moves synchronously across the treads surface and measure the distance of the surface from the sensor position. Modern laser sensors running which CCD-lines and digital data output lines. Both features together leads to a sensor system which is high precise and in a wide range independent from any electromagnetic influences, brought up by big motors and other electric equipment in industrial environment. For a well running system its very important to take into account, the much environment influences which will happen in the environment of the extrusion line: temperature changes, vibrations and soiling. And the Fig. 2 Two laser sensor measuring the tread profile system has to run for 24 hours the day. Fig. 3 shows a system which is running in many tyre plants and which withstand the typical hard conditions. A strong stand, made of special steel-stone combination, enable a measurement system with an influence of temperature changes and environment vibrations which can be neglected by using this technique. Additionally an air flushing protects the sensor from soiling and performs a cooling of the sensor. To ensure a 24 hour well running system over a long time period, the applied mechanical and electromechanical components have to be selected very well. At last but not at least it needs a special software user interface to get a measurement systems, which will be accepted by the personnel. Easy to understand and easy to handle menus, for the daily working procedure, but although detailed protocols and display possibilities for the users from the quality

Fig. 3 TriScan-Online; Profile measuring system for treads and innerliner

control department. Fig 4 shows two of the online display modes of the TriScan-Online system of the company Dr. Noll. The system, allows the measurement of the cross-section, total width, shoulder width, symmetry and thickness at many defined positions. The profile mode (s. fig 4a) is the best mode to display the treads profile condition. For quality control purposes the trend display (s. fig 4b) and the protocol of the statistical results will give an important answer, if the production is running still good. The extrusion process can be controlled by the output values of the measurement system. The total cross-section and the shoulder width could be used as regulating parameters.
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Fig 4) Profile (a) and trend (b) display of the profile measuring system

A.3)Tread profile measurement; Offline With the same principle a laboratory system is available, which measures a tread as well as many other semi-finished products (e.g. apexes, sidewalls, textilecord, steelcord) with high accuracy for a fast die design and for quality control purposes. The measuring accuracy of the laboratory system is increased by using two sensors for the measurement of the upper side of the tread. The sensors are cascaded, to have a very high accuracy for each measuring range of the sensor. A special designed software performs the automatic measuring procedure by an easy click, which starts with the profile scan followed by the automatic dimensioning of the profile with respect to profile structures and a printout of the result, if selected with a comparison to a nominal profile. Special software tools allows the calculation of the thread density of textile and steel-cord. Fig. 5 Fig. 5 TriScan Offline, Laboratory system shows a laboratory system. A.4) Colour line detection and controlling, Extrusion line Specially for tyre plants which delivers to car manufacturer, its necessary to have a painted line on the treads surface. Depending on the car manufacturer a different number of colour lines and colour line positions are required. If the colour lines are painted in a wrong order or if some colours are wrong or missing, the tyre are not accepted by the car manufacturer. Therefore its important to control the painting. As shown in fig. 6 a high resolution colour CCD camera takes a picture of the treads surface. A special designed electronic hardware does a pre-analysing of the area view, to eliminate singular disturbances. Very

important is the illumination of the inspected area. High frequency illumination systems are necessary and the illumination should be homogeneously distributed for the inspected area.
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Fig. 6) Colour line recognition and control at the tread line; Principle view and systems monitor display of colour intensity distribution

As an extension its possible to upgrade the system by a five axis motorised positioning equipment to control up to five axis for pre-positioning of colour bottles and for position correction due to the position of a middle line or to the tread borders. If only white lines are painted onto the treads surface, the line width and position controlling can be combined with a total width measurement of the tread, by using a line scan camera as explained is section A.6. A.5) Length measurement of cut treads If the treads are cut at the end of the extrusion line it is necessary to control the cutting equipment and to measure the real length of the treads. Further equipment like running wheels, or line scan cameras in combination with light barriers have many disadvantages which will overcome by a new two camera based measurement system. This system takes simultaneously a picture from both ends of the cut tread. A special filter algorithm enables the determination of the tread length considering the inclined cut. This high accurate measurement enables the video display of treads ends and the found edges at a PC monitor, which enables the visual verification of the measured values. A motorised positioning equipment enable the position adjustment of one camera in dependence from the expected length. A.6) Width measurement As used since a long time in many fields of the industry and also in the tyre industry ccd line cameras measures the width of treads or any other material. Important is the development of self intelligent camera, therefore most times nothing else than the camera and a backlight illumination is necessary for the equipment. The controlling of thresholds is done by the camera itself and if thresholds are exceeded output lines will be set to signal the error. An optional big letter display enables the display of the measured value and for quality purposes an PC with statistical evaluation can be connected to the camera. A.7) Edge detector For the accurate positioning of one or more layers onto another a edge control is very helpful. In simple cases a u-shaped light barrier can be used to detect the edges. A high resolution line scan camera with intelligent analysis and a counter-light of the controlled product is used if a higher accuracy is necessary and if products running with different widths. In some cases, if back-lighting illuminations are impossible, a vertical illumination from the direction of the camera can be used. The information about the edge position can be used by mechanical positioning equipments.

B.) Systems for semi-finished products

B.1) Innerliner control The same equipment as for the tread online profile measurement (chapt. A.2) with a special software adaptation can be used to measure the 5.15 52.3 54.6 position and thickness of each layer of innerliner material (s. fig. 7). An special improved systems allows the output of regulation values which could be used for 143.1 regulation of the width and thickness of each 164.2 layer by positioning the border cutting equipment and by controlling the gaps of the Fig. 7) Dimensions measured by the TriScan-Online calenders. for innerliner surveillance

B.2) Splice control The development of well working automatic splicers requires measurement equipment to control the automatic running machines. The splice control system (see fig. 8) allows the measurement of the splice length and thickness at different positions. Standard systems use up to 3 measurement positions by using 2 laser sensors at each position. The basic system runs with laser sensors at fixed positions. The extended versions enables the adjustment of the laser positions by using a double-motion-spindle with a manually driven hand wheel or a automatic motor system. This allows the equidistant positioning of the sensors across the cord width even if the width changes. The small layout enables the easy integration in existing splice lines.
Laser sensor Textile cord Roller with encoder

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Fig. 8) Splice control by 3 pairs of laser sensor

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Fig. 9) Measurement equipment for the steel cord line

B.3) Cord line thickness measurement A very important operational area of stationary laser distance sensors in combination with a profile scanner is the 4-roller-measurement equipment for the steel cord and textile cord lines. As explained in fig. 9 the stationary sensors could be used to control the gap of the calenders V1 and V2 and the profile scanner controls the gap of the roll V3 and calculates the total width and the thread distribution . If additionally the weight (g/cm) should be measured the system is completed by a Strontium-90 gamma ray source with detector.

C) Systems for finished tyres C.1) Profile of finished tyres At the end of the tyre making process, the laser systems are used to measure the profile of the finished tyre to study wear effects and effects Laser sensor of flexing work. Tyre The systems are measuring the complete tyre surface, which enable the accurate determination of the wear or flexing of special tyre region. Simple machines controls only the treads surface of the tyre. Extended systems controls additionally the sidewalls of the tyre Fig. 10) TriScan-Tyre; Profile mesurement at for a controlling of the whole tyres surface or tyres and rims for the check of special cross sections. The systems are usable for passenger car tyres as well as for truck tyres. Tyres and rims from 13'' to 23'' can be measured by this systems. Fig. 10 shows the principle outline of the measurement equipment.

C.2) Bulge detection Bulge detection is up to today a domain of systems with capacitive sensors. The small distance of the capacitive sensors to the tyres surface processes errors, if small spikes or laps runs under the sensor and produces high signals like a big bulge. Increased demands of the sensibility to detecting small bulges, by the hard disturbances of the writing on the tyre which should be not detected as an bulge, leads to new techniques. Laser sensors have a big measurement distance and will see very well whats a spike or lap and whats a writing in comparison to the bulges. Bulge detection is one more future domain for laser distance sensors. The different distance signals which causes from the different accepted effects on a tyres sidewall like small and big letters, spikes, laps and corrugated regions have very different signal shapes than bulges or repressions. The bulge and depression can be detected very well in comparison to the other effects.

C.4) Heel size measurement; Sorting tasks For sorting tasks the measurement of the heel size of finished tyres is important for automatic sorting , if the tyres are mixed during the production. Again a high accurate ccd-line-camera with backlighting illumination can be used to solve this problems. An intelligent camera detects all edges of the tyres running through the field of view of the camera. Small amounts of rubber on the illumination will be neglected by this rough and fast working system. C.5) Cross-section measurement; Quality control CCD-camera systems, sometimes adapted to microscopes, are used to check the cross-section of finished tyres. Dimensioning software allows the fast and easy determination of the position of different compounds in the tyre. Statistical evaluations are very easy and custom specific quality print-outs are possible because the measured data can be send to standard software tools by DDE. Software tools together with CD-backup systems allows the necessary archiving of the cross-sections by modern techniques instead of storing the caoutchouc parts, saving time and place. D) Conclusion Modern optical measurement equipment moves into many fields of the tyre production. The continuos production control by this optical methods and the intervention by regulating variables increases the productivity and reduces the costs of each tread line. Furthermore, the computer based system performs the liability to document the production process and control the product quality.