Application Exploration: Fast, Accurate Detection for Plastic Filament

Monday, November 9, 2020

A Standalone Solution for Color Verification

Across multiple industries and applications, detecting the presence and strength of colors is critical to delivering a satisfactory product. And being able to detect those colors quickly and as an integrated part of the production process is just as important (and for the 3D printing industry, this is essential with the plastic filament used to create finished products). That’s why EMX Industries, Inc. offers the ColorMax-1000 line of RGB color sensors for detecting color as well as luminosity.

As a standalone sensor, the ColorMax-1000 provides a more vibrant suite of options and capabilities beyond the “match/no match” output of traditional color sensors. Not only does this sensor provide precise RGB analog values, but it also allows users and systems to see which color is being analyzed and what the value of that color is — improving control through color matching. Having these detection capabilities in a production environment supports stronger quality control and automation. And for a leading 3D printing company looking to evaluate their plastic filament, speed and accuracy were essential.

How the ColorMax Sensor Solved This Application Challenge

plastic filament 2Recently, a major 3D printing company contacted us for a free sample evaluation on two of its plastic filaments (orange and blue in particular) — the plastic material that is fed into a 3D printer. This material is a cylindrical shape and can vary by thickness and color. The company’s goal was to identify an automated solution to detect color and verify accuracy prior to being fed into the printer. 

The company was specifically interested in whether the ColorMax-1000 could produce readings at a 10 mm sensing distance. As this was too close to the material, our application engineers changed the distance to 30 mm — the ideal range for the ColorMax-1000 (30 mm to 100 mm).

The evaluation successfully proved that the ColorMax-1000 could be used to detect color on the filaments. However, stable positioning was critical to accurate readings. If the distance between the plastic filament and sensor fluctuated, or if the plastic filament position within the light spot changed due to vibration or movement, the readings would be affected. And because the material was cylindrical, this meant the opportunity for change would be greater if there was movement.

plastic filament 3With the material stable and in position, the ColorMax-1000 proved to be a reliable solution for ensuring plastic filament color was within a certain tolerance so the final product would look more consistent and that the correct color material was being used in the production process, thereby preventing material waste. We were proud to supply this company with the automated sensor solution it needed to ensure product quality and process accuracy.

Why the ColorMax-1000 Succeeded with Plastic Filament Testing

The ColorMax-1000 was designed specifically for accurate, high-speed detection and verification of color and color intensity in today’s fast-paced production environments. With a range of available spot sizes, extensive RGB outputs, and up to 15 detectable color channels, as well as the ability to teach colors to the sensor for reliable discrete outputs, the ColorMax line of sensors provides the flexibility needed, yet the precision to tailor the sensor to the exact needs of the application. And because it can be used with a programmable logic controller (PLC) or another control system, it can be easily integrated into a variety of production environments.

plastic filament 4Additionally, the ColorMax line of sensors features a programming interface available for Windows. This advanced software makes managing the sensor simple and effective, allows for rapid interfacing with the sensor, and simplifies adjustment and color teaching.

Find out if the ColorMax line of sensors is right for your application with a free sample evaluation. Get in touch with us today to request yours.

Ready to get started now? Get in touch with our experts to discuss your application and find the right ColorMax sensor for your needs.