Inventas has, together with Hycast, developed an automatic preparation and inspection system for the aluminium ingot casting process. The system consists of a lightweight XYZ-manipulator setup, integrated within the casting machine. All initial tests were done with igus rails and driven by toothed belts and stepper motors. A tool-change mechanism and inspection cameras were tested for flexible and agile inspection and preparation of the casting process. Images from the cameras are processed and analysed for detecting remains of water in the moulds before casting (HSE), and for detecting defects in surface structure and other signs of possible spontaneous outpouring of liquid aluminium during casting.
The casting process is water-cooled, and even small remains of water in the moulds could lead to massive explosions when exposed to liquid aluminium.
The goal for the inspection system is to prevent dangerous situations for personnel by eliminating rapid evaporation / steam explosions and give early warning of possible aluminium outpouring to minimize cost and material damage. The system minimises the need for personnel to be close to liquid aluminium during the casting process.
The inspection system is still in the prototyping phase, and commercial realisation is being discussed with pilot customers. In addition to the HSE benefits, it is expected that the inspection system will increase the overall efficiency of the casting process, as well as improve the final product quality by detecting surface defects.