‘We’re currently looking for partners and funding opportunities for the component inspection’

medical joints, as well as shiny surfaces and specular curve reflective surfaces. We think polarisation imaging will have a lot of applications in the future. Te two main areas where we’re using

polarisation imaging at the moment are defect detection on medical components and on composites such as carbon fibre weave. We’re making big strides in this area;

we’ve currently undertaken a package of work at the AMRC between the integrated manufacturing group, which focuses on digital inspection and AI, and the composites group. We’ll be working with the composites group to look at how to integrate polarisation inspection directly into a carbon fibre weaving loom. Polarisation imaging can inspect carbon

Joe Palmer, senior design and development engineer at AMRC, wearing one of the finished face visors the centre has been producing for local hospitals


many different applications, because operators are taking this time to reflect on their current processes – it’s the ideal time for them to think about this. AMRC has got a lot on with the UK

Ventilator Challenge, although it is not using machine vision for the project. It has, however, used augmented reality to give engineers instructions, overlaid via AR headsets, on how to adapt and optimise production lines for making ventilators. In addition, AMRC’s Design and Prototyping Group are making face masks, coordinating its efforts with Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Te group worked in shifts over the Easter weekend, with all the staff, from receptionists, composite engineers and senior project managers, volunteering to help with assembly.

What did you discuss in your UKIVA hub presentation? I talked about the state of machine vision in high-value manufacturing. One of the things discussed was global supply chains and the impact machine vision could have on these. Global supply chains in aerospace are really quite long – from Europe to India and China – and there’s interest at the moment in how to shorten them. When they’re that long, the

chain is only as strong as its weakest link. AMRC is looking at ways to use machine

vision to automate and reduce the cost of parts, so they can be manufactured in fewer locations and keep supply chains compact. Airbus send parts all over Europe; wings, for example, are assembled in north Wales and shipped to France. AMRC is also working on identifying

technologies that apply across sectors. One area is maintenance, which is big in aerospace, but it is also big in the rail industry. Vision systems play a major role in the maintenance of aircraft and trains. We’re looking at different techniques, whether it’s artificial intelligence for inspecting similar features on different components – bolts look the same whether they’re on a train or a fighter jet, for instance. Tere’s also CAD-based analysis, overlaying CAD files onto 3D images. All this work is to develop adaptive vision systems for different types of maintenance activities.

Polarisation imaging was also part of your talk. How are you using it? Polarisation imaging can give rapid information for inspecting components that have been difficult to inspect in the past, such as carbon fibre sheets and


fibre weave in real time at 30fps. We can make the inspection in line with production of the fibre as it is being woven – the technique isn’t restricted to inspecting the finished product. When unpolarised light falls on carbon

fibre it becomes polarised. Terefore, a vision system can pick out individual strands in the weave based on the angle of polarisation of the light reflecting from the strands. Tat allows the system to inspect the strands of the carbon fibre weave directly. Te system designed for inspecting

medical components measures the intensity of polarisation reflected from the surface. Tat’s using different light sources. Te intensity of polarised light gives information about surface smoothness – the more polarised light reflected, the smoother the surface; it’s a good indicator of surface defects. Te carbon fibre inspection work is

more mature than medical component inspection – we’ve got a development route for composite inspection, to integrate the technique into a system; we’re currently looking for partners and funding opportunities for the medical component inspection. O

UKIVA’s Technology Presentation Hub, including Kieran Edge’s talk, is now live. It’s free to register.

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