Laser-sharp pipe shape in seconds

Using a spinning laser, it will take more than 1,000 measurements every 5secs for each 360o scan; this information is then sent back to a computer for display and analysis.
The profile of a pipe or similar structure can identify characteristics such as ovality, cracks, cavitation, wear, or corrosion. In comparative mode, the information can indicate the extent of deformation over a period of time or the thickness of coatings (such as epoxy) in before-and-after measurements. The system can also be used to create inventories (such as taking the measurements of pipe sizes for relining), and to survey internal structures for replacement and modification. Plastic pipes can be surveyed to assess whether the pipe has been over-bent, which may lead to problems in the future. The profiler is likely to have many uses in the measurement of other shapes such as rectangular ducting or moulds, and in quality control of key features in manufactured components.
The system uses laser optical triangulation to measure to a point on the surface 1000 times per second. Variations in the surface colour from black to white are compensated for dynamically. The resulting accuracy can exceed 0.2 mm, with small objects being measured more accurately than large ones. The system incorporates an inclinometer for use with vertical profiles to ensure that the profile is always oriented in the same way regardless of the position of the instrument.
The system comes with software that allows the user to integrate it into other applications. The basic software allows the user to perform least-squares’ circle fits, and automatically computes ovality measurements where appropriate. The resulting information is automatically stored in a sequential manner, allowing rapid inspection of pipes or other structures.
The inventor of the laser profiler, Dr Tim Clarke, said: “We know that many companies need this type of measurement. The profiler can be adapted to meet the needs of any industry needing fast, accurate, information about internal structures. We are expecting that this tool will be of interest to users in the process industry, production engineering, and the nuclear industry, as well as to the current users. An accurate profile is the key to quality control.” For further information, see www.optical-metrology-centre.com.

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