Contrast Sensors Excel in Multiple Applications, but Where Do You Start?

In virtually every industry, there is a need for contrast sensing equipment to detect a variety of manufacturing elements and product qualities. But beyond detection, there is also a need to do so with ever-improving (or at a minimum, consistent) speed and extreme precision. After all, you have goals to achieve and performance metrics to uphold — if not improve over time. Contrast sensors are one of the many solutions available that will help you maximize cycle times and throughput, thereby achieving your goals.

But with so many contrast sensing options available in today’s industrial automation market, how and where are you — whether you’re a production manager, engineer, process controller, or operations leader — supposed to start? How do you know if a contrast sensor is even right for your specific application? What are the most important aspects to consider in a contrast sensor?

Here, we’ll explore a few contrast sensing applications and what makes this sensor type the ideal automation tool for them, referencing the high-speed and precise CNTX sensor manufactured here in the U.S. at EMX Industries, Inc.

Numerous Use Cases — One High-Performing Solution

1. Grayscale Conversion

Throughout your line, you may have a variety of materials that you need to either verify the presence of or for which you need to detect color or contrast levels. These might be transparent and clear, transparent with coloring added, or opaque with coloring. Effective contrast sensing requires that the light level detected from the material be converted to a grayscale value. This is a common application that applies to many products and materials, but what matters is that the sensor you use provides sufficient grayscale ranges to meet differing product needs. Just as important is the need for this to happen rapidly.

Context with CNTX: With a broad-spectrum white LED and up to 50 grayscale outputs, the CNTX contrast sensor can detect a wide variety of colors against any background. And, it can do it with a 40 kHz switching signal — meaning it’s guaranteed to keep up with virtually all production lines regardless of how fast they’re moving.

2. Registration Marks

Registration marks are essential in printing applications. They ensure that the multiple colors that comprise images or text on products, containers, or other surfaces are printed in alignment — thereby preventing overlaps that create fuzziness. If even one of the colors is off, the primary text or image loses its impact, and a single-color variation of the element can be seen slightly off-center. For printers, marketers, and other companies dealing with imagery and content on products and containers, this is a huge problem that lessens the appearance and perceived value of the product. Contrast sensors are key in avoiding this.

Context with CNTX: The CNTX contrast sensor helps to verify the presence and quality of registration marks on a variety of surface types, ensuring they’re present and visible enough for printing. If the marks are faint or missing, the sensor triggers the NPN/PNP discrete output, allowing a line worker to address the problem or for automation to remove that bad product. And thanks to small spot sizes, there’s no mark the CNTX sensor can’t detect.

3. Barcodes

Barcodes are a foundational part of just about every product on the market — whether they’re used for internal tracking purposes for efficient warehouse operations, inventory management to make more informed supply chain decisions, and of course, in retail environments for consumers and employees to check prices, inventory levels, and more. In every instance, barcodes must be present to support a process. Ensuring these elements are of good quality is important, too — barcode quality is a major area of focus, with nearly 10 different criteria used to evaluate the grade of a barcode. Contrast sensors ensure that these elements are both present and visible enough for quality purposes.

Context with CNTX: Barcodes are printed on a variety of surfaces with varying finishes. With the CNTX sensor from EMX Industries, barcode presence and level of darkness can be verified on a variety of surface types, including glossy and matte. To avoid the reflectivity of the label surface, the sensor simply needs to be mounted at a slight angle.

4. Tamper-Evident Seals

Tamper-evident seals are a key solution in healthcare, personal care, pharmaceutical, and other industries that sell food, medical, and wellness products to consumers. These seals ensure that, should a product be tampered with by a person or damaged during transportation, it will be immediately apparent — allowing the consumer to discard it or stores to remove it from shelves. While there are a variety of different tamper-evident label types, the most common in this industry are foil seals on the tops of bottles as well as transparent shrink labels on bottle caps. Because of the flexibility of contrast sensing solutions, they can be used to detect both of these material types.

Context with CNTX: Product manufacturing for healthcare and personal care is incredibly fast-paced. To keep up, the CNTX sensor features not only its lightning-fast 40 kHz switching speed but different spot sizes, a circular spot for flexible sensor orientation, easy-to-use calibration and adjustment features, and simple integration. Learn more about how CNTX fits into an overall production program.

The Difference is Night and Day

With manufacturers under extreme pressure to maximize their production capabilities to meet growing consumer and business demands, it’s important to have a contrast sensing solution in place that can work with a variety of different applications, production speeds, and material types. With the CNTX contrast sensor from EMX Industries, that’s exactly what you get.

We designed the CNTX sensor to be one of the fastest, most accurate, most integrable, and most affordable contrast sensing solutions available. This means you not only gain a flexible sensor that can work with a variety of products but also one that starts demonstrating its ROI right away. If you’ve been looking for a solution to verify the presence of key materials or packaging elements, or if you’ve been relying on more manual (and less accurate) solutions, now is the time to experience the CNTX difference.

Our engineers will conduct a complimentary sample evaluation using the CNTX sensor to help you determine if this is the right solution for your environment. Simply fill out a quick form, ship your samples to us, and we’ll provide you with a detailed report on the sensor’s performance.

Get in touch with us today for your free sample evaluation.