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Patent Searching and Data

Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/1987/007363
Kind Code:
A method for monitoring a product under manufacture for possible deformation or changes in shape. In accordance with the method there is produced at given time intervals a series of product images from which the rate at which possible changes in shape or deformation take place in time can be estimated or evaluated. These estimated values relating to the rate of deformation and the rate of progressive changes therein are extrapolated so as to obtain the final value of the deformation of the product in relation to the state or form of the product immediately subsequent to the time of its manufacture. The process of manufacture is controlled on the basis of this final value, and the product is preferably cooled forcibly prior to producing the series of images.

Application Number:
Publication Date:
December 03, 1987
Filing Date:
May 12, 1987
Export Citation:
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International Classes:
G01B11/16; (IPC1-7): G01B9/021
Foreign References:
Other References:
Technisches Messen, Volume 49, No. 3, issued 1982 March, V.W. NEUMANN and F. KRAUSE, "Das Holografische Partialbelichtungsverfahren", see pages 99 to 103, especially figure No. 2.
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1. A method for monitoring the manufacture of a product with. the purpose of detecting the possible occurrence of deformation of the product, in which a series of images of the product under manufacture are produced at prede ter ined time intervals (Δt, 2Δt, etc.) with the aid of holographic measuring apparatus, characterized by pro¬ ducing the images in a manner such that said images, at each imaging time point (t 3. + Δt, tcl + 2Δt....) are representative of possibly occurring deformation in the product relative to the immediately preceding imaging time point (ta. ta + Δt....); evaluating or estimating from the images thus produced the rate at which said de¬ formation changes with time; and by extrapolating the estimated or evaluated values relating to the rate of de¬ formation so as to obtain an estimation of the final value of the deformation of the product in relation to the form or state of said product immediately subsequent to the time of its manufacture.
2. A method according to claim 1, characterized in that for a plurality of imaging time points there is made at each imaging time point (t + Δt) an exposure (second exposure) which together with the immediate preceding exposure (first exposure at t ) provides an image, and in that a further exposure (third exposure) is made for the purpose "of producing the next image in line (at tcL + 2Δt) .
3. A method according to claim 1 or claim 2, particularly for monitoring and controlling the process of manufacture of a large number of mutually similar products, character ized in that the manufacturing process is controlled in dependence on the aforesaid final value of product defor¬ mation.
4. A method according to any of claims 13, character¬ ized in that the product is forcibly cooled to normal room temperature prior to producing said series of images.
A method for monitoring the manufacture of a product.

Technical Field

The present invention relates to a method for monitoring the manufacture of a product, and more specifically, al- though not exclusively, for monitoring the possible oc¬ currence of undesirable changes in shape or deformation of a manufactured product.

Background Prior Art

The problem of estimating or measuring the change in shape, or deformation, of a manufactured product is one of a general character. There is today a general need to estimate or measure the change in shape or deformation of a product under manufacture, so that when carrying out prototype checks it is possible to anticipate what con- structional changes, e.g. tool changes, will be needed and so that when carrying out production checks (quality checks) the need for taking rectifying measures, e.g. tool replacement because of worn tools, can be both observed and put into effect at an early stage, thereby greatly reducing the number of faulty goods which need to be rejected, if not avoiding the occurrence of rejects altogether, parti¬ cularly when the product is manufactured in large numbers.

The problem of measuring or estimating the deformation.- or change in shape of a product is particularly prevalent in products produced from polymeric materials, due to the anisothropic properties of the injection moulded products; even though measurements are taken at given points, no definite knowledge can be obtained of the circumstances prevailing at the points therebetween. In addition, be- cause the material is resilient it can readily be deformed or blemished by contact with gauges, templets, measuring probes etc. , when the product is measured for distortion

by means of a conventional contact method. Certain pro¬ ducts are used normally in a humid atmosphere, and hence the lack of a practical method of measuring moist products is a distinct disadvantage.

Summary of the Invention

The object of the present invention is to eliminate these drawbacks. Accordingly, the present invention consists a method for monitoring the occurrence of possible changes in shape of a manufactured product, comprising producing a series of images of the product at pre-determined inter¬ vals of time, by means of holographic measuring apparatus, in a manner such that the images at each imaging time point are representative of possible deformation in the product in relation to the immediately preceding imaging moment; evaluating the rate at which such deformation occurs in time,from the images thus produced; and extra¬ polating the values relating to the rate of deformation so as to obtain the final value of the deformation of the product relative to the form or state of the product immediately subsequent to the time of its manufacture.

These and other features of the inventive method are set forth in the following claims.

Brief Description of the Drawings

The invention will now be described "in more detail with reference to the accompanying drawing, in which

Figure 1 illustrates a number of curves showing the rate of progressive deformation of a product as a function of time (e.g. warping, shrinkage) ; and

Figure 2 illustrates the interference pattern of a hologram produced from a plastic product.

Detailed Description of a Preferred Embodiment When developing and manufacturing new plastic products it is preferable to obtain, as early as the prototype stage, an understanding of how the new product will behave after leaving, e.g., the injection moulding tool; this is necessary in order to make at an early stage those con¬ structional changes required in order to avoid the oc¬ currence of rejects further on in the manufacturing chain, such rejects being caused for example by unacceptable distortion of the product, stress concentration in the product material, etc.

To this end the product is first cooled rapidly to normal room temperature, which can be effected in approximately 10 minutes. A series of images of the product, or option- ally a specific part thereof, are then produced at pre¬ determined time intervals with the aid of holographic measuring apparatus. In this regard an exposure is first made at a time point t, ' whereafter a further exposure is made at the same location after a given lapse of time Δt. If the product has been deformed slightly during this lapse of time Δt, this will be shown on the exposed plate in the form of a number of straight or slightly curved lines, the number of lines that appear and their thickness constituting a measurement of the extent to which the pro- duct has been deformed or deviates from its true form.

The configuration in which the lines appear on the plate will, as a result of experience, divulge certain infor¬ mation as to the reason why deformation has occurred. The final value of the deformation to which a product is sub- jected in relation to the form or state of the product immediately subsequent to the time of its manufacture can be evaluated or established on the basis of a number of such images. Thus it is possible, in this way, to estab¬ lish whether the product can be accepted or whether the

injection moulding tool should be re-constructed or other- - wise modified in order for the product to meet with set requirements, e.g. such requirements as smoothness, di¬ mensions, density, and like parameters.

When conditions are considered sufficiently satisfactory for manufacture of the product to commence, the method according to the invention can be used to monitor and con¬ trol the manufacturing process. The process is thus con¬ trolled on the basis of said final value of product de- formation or distortion. Since the method can be executed very quickly, it is possible to make changes in the process at an earlier stage, should faults be observed. It is possible that these changes may necessitate temporary stoppages in the process, for adjustment to process para- meters or to make tool changes. However, since the con¬ tinuous monitoring of the product will have indicated the changes that are taking place, it is possible to take pre¬ cautionary measures at an earlier stage, e.g. the procure¬ ment of a new tool, and hence the stoppages need not be unexpected or of long duration.

The diagram of Figure 1 shows three curves which are as¬ sumed to have been obtained when plotting the rate of deformation SK, or change in shape, as a function of the time t for a given manufacturing process in the manufac- ture of a plastic product. In this case it is assumed that the product comprises the lid or cover of a liquid tank on which certain requirements are placed with regard to den¬ sity, pressure resistance, etc. It is also assumed that the product has been cooled to normal room temperature at time t , at which time a first exposure was made with the aid of holographic measuring apparatus, and that a further exposure was made at a time tcl + Δt (Δt = 10 mins) , the first and second exposures providing the first, image, and

that a third exposure was then made, these exposures being made in quick succession. The number of lines appearing on the image is a measurement of the rate at which defor¬ mation takes place. This number, e.g. 10 lines, is then representative of the first time interval ta - (ta + Δt) and is plotted suitably at the midway point of said inter¬ val. Approximately at time point t + 2Δt, a fourth and a fifth exposure are made, on a new plate, in quick suc¬ cession, the fourth and third exposures providing the se- cond image. The number of lines appearing on the second image, perhaps 8, is added to the number of lines (10) on the first image and the sum obtained is plotted at the midway point of the second time interval, .this procedure being repeated for as long as necessary.

At another, later stage there is obtained a curve 2 which lies substantially above the curve 1 and which indicates some discrepency or fault in the manufacturing process. The curve in the illustrated case, however, represents a borderline case and the product can still be accepted. However, the curve also indicates that measures must be taken to eliminate the source of error in the process. If such measures are not taken, there is a distinct danger . that the product concerned will be found unacceptable and that manufacture must be stopped. A clear example of this is shown by the curve 3, which indicates pronounced defor¬ mation of the product, resulting in rejection. Thus, dis- crepencies and faults occurring in the manufacturing pro¬ cess are indicated by the present invention at a much ' earlier stage of the process than is possible with prior art monitoring methods, therewith eliminating the risk of subsequent rejects.

The key diagram obtained when practicing the method accord¬ ing to the invention not only makes it possible to ascer-

tain that a product is distorted, etc., but also enables the extent of this distortion to be established (the number of lines) , together with its location and, at times, the cause (the directions in which the lines extend and the pattern which thuiy form) .

At times, e.g. when carrying out manufacturing checks, it can be seen immediately, e.g. after solely one or two images have bee produced (2 to 4 exposures) that a product is unacceptable, in which case the monitoring process is stopped immediately, i.e the work entailed in producing the complete curves of the Figure 1 illustration is not undertaken. In other cases it may be beneficial to ob¬ serve how the product "behaves" over a long period of time, e.g. so as to obtain therewith a basis for constructional measures that need be taken.

The hologram shown in Figure 2 illustrates the interference pattern obtained with a plastic product that has suffered substantial deformation. Together the contour lines pro¬ duce a saddle-configuration with altitudes at points A, B, C, D and a part at-point E. A large number of lines indi¬ cates radical changes. A routined interpretor of such interference patterns is able to obtain from the number of lines present, their thickness and their curvature, valu¬ able information concerning weaknesses in a construction, and is therewith made aware indirectly of the construc¬ tional changes that need to be made in order to rectify the fault.

In addition to provide a total picture of the sequence in which deformation occurs, thus not only at one or a few locations in the process, the method according to the in¬ vention has the further advantage of being usable on pro¬ ducts which, e.g. are under tension, for instance in con-

junction with load tolerance tests, or which are sub¬ mersed in water, e.g. in conjunction with product function tests, or on products which are located in environments of varying temperatures, which means that the product can be monitored with the product in its true context and rela¬ tively independent of the more or less complex form of the product and its possible variation in thickness. The in¬ vention also enables a study to be made of those parts of a product or object which are of particular interest for some reason or another. This, of course, further enhances the possibility of anticipating weaknesses in novel con¬ structions and those modifications which might be necessary during the process of manufacture.