Why UV Luminescence Sensors Shine for Detection Needs

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

uv luminescence

There are Multiple Options for Detection, But Which is Best?

It’s no secret that there are a number of solutions available for manufacturers to improve their production processes. From advanced software systems to IoT-enabled operational technology, the options available for manufacturers to increase production speed, product quality, customer satisfaction, and overall financial performance are endless. While any number of solutions can be put in place for various industries and reasons, one of the most practical is a UV luminescence sensor.

These luminescence sensors are part of a broader class of photoelectric sensors that include photoeyes and machine vision systems. However, they’re distinct in their applications and benefits. For example, photoeyes — which use an infrared beam — are ideal for access control and security needs where the only triggering event is an interruption to the beam.

In manufacturing environments, however, products are often clear, or detection needs involve nearly invisible materials like adhesives or marks on similar-colored backgrounds. In these cases, a photoeye will have difficulty performing. On the other hand, a UV luminescence sensor emits a beam of ultraviolet light that causes the material it hits to fluoresce (or glow), and can also detect marks on materials that are similar in color. The sensor will see this reaction and send its required signal as a result. 

A UV luminescence sensor is also an ideal alternative to machine vision systems because all that’s required to get the necessary output is a mark that interacts with UV light. Most times, these marks are invisible, allowing them to be applied to products without affecting aesthetics. Machine vision systems, which detect the presence of items in any orientation, are often expensive. As long as the material involved — such as a label or tamper-proof seal — can react to UV light, a UV luminescence sensor can serve as an affordable alternative.

Examples Where a UV Luminescence Sensor Is the Ideal Solution

Detecting Materials on Similar-Color Backgrounds

There are a number of applications in which items of the same color must be scanned to verify their presence in a high-speed production line. In the food and beverage industry, juice box containers may have a straw that’s similar to the color of the box itself. The straw is sealed and adhered to the box (and not always in the same position). In clothing, a key thread is needed to seal a seam along the edge of a garment. In both instances, as long as the material responds to UV light or is treated with UV ink, the sensor can detect them.

Additional application examples:

  • Detecting the presence of paint on industrial parts
  • Detecting packaging dates codes that use UV inks
  • Detecting the presence of gum on papers with optical brighteners

Detecting Invisible or Transparent Materials

Millions of the products we all use every day need adhesives, lubricants, tape, and other sealants in order to work properly. In fast-paced production, it’s virtually impossible for the human eye to detect the presence of these items. It can also be difficult for machine vision systems to prove useful as they often can’t determine the presence of these materials. However, many of these materials already fluoresce under UV light, which allows them to be easily detected with a UV luminescence sensor.

Additional application examples:

  • Detecting lubricants on automotive bearings
  • Detecting adhesion promoters on automotive parts
  • Detecting operator ID tape on ignition wire

Improving Process Automation

Because many materials that fluoresce are invisible, UV inks and markings can be applied to materials to help with process automation and quality. For example, sawmill operators will apply UV markings to wood, allowing sensors to provide precise coordinates for cutting at high speeds. This helps to optimize wood yield, increase profitability, and reduce downtime. Because the UV sensor has a long optical focus length, it can be mounted away from the wood to protect it against wood chips and sawdust.

Additional application examples:

  • Detecting marks that trigger next production phases
  • Identifying spots on products for drilling or screwing
  • Detecting assembly marks for alignment of two parts

Examples of Materials That Fluoresce

UV luminescence sensors can be used to detect materials and substances that fluoresce naturally, such as greases, adhesives, varnishes, woods, paper, labels, and more. Fluorescent pigments can be added to materials as well, or parts can be marked with fluorescent inks and paints (both of which can match the color of the part to which they’re being applied or be completely transparent). If a UV pigment must be added to the application, it can either be incorporated in the material or applied on the surface. Examples of where pigments can just be added include paper, plastics, and synthetic fibers.

Get the Luminescence Sensor You’ve Been Looking For

EMX Industries, Inc. is proud to offer the UVX series of luminescence sensors for verifying the presence of UV marks and materials in high-speed production. This innovative line of sensors allows you to not only detect the presence of UV materials but also determine intensity — enabling you to better control production quality without needing to invest in other alternatives that can cost up to 10 times more. 

The UVX line of luminescence sensors can be quickly and easily integrated into your production environment and have advanced user calibration features that allow fine-tuning for greater precision and customization. With a significantly greater range than competing sensors, you can scan a wide variety of materials and products in any configuration. Its 10kHz switching speed supports extremely fast-paced production, and its rugged construction keeps it secure and protected at all times.

Take Your Production Capabilities to New Heights

If you’ve been looking for a UV sensor solution that allows you to do and achieve more for less, our team is ready to work with you. We’ll be happy to discuss more applications and features of the UVX sensor line and to review your particular application in depth. 

Contact us today for a FREE UVX handbook to learn more about how the sensor works.