Production processes always in view
Companies have a great interest in monitoring their production processes. Radar sensors can not only measure under difficult environmental conditions where visibility is limited, for example, but can also see through dielectric materials and detect defects there.
Non-destructive testing for food, plastics and composites
Taking a look inside objects without destroying them: Radar makes this possible, at least for dielectric materials. In food testing, for example, foreign substances can be detected in the product. Radar is also promising in the non-destructive testing of additively manufactured components, i. e. plastic parts from the 3D printer.
Radar testing also offers advantages during the life cycle of a product. For example, in the case of composite materials, such as the blades of wind turbines. To this end, among other things, FHR is developing imaging algorithms for high-resolution millimeter-wave radar scans at 60 GHz for monitoring fiber optic systems in fiber composite manufacturing in the FiberRadar project funded by the ERDF Lead Market Agency NRW. Promising results have already been achieved here with FHR’s broadband radar technology at 80 and 220 GHz. FHR’s fully integrated SiGe chip solution at 220 GHz achieves unprecedented image resolution, making fiber layers and material defects clearly visible. For greater penetration depths, multiple frequency bands will be fused.
Inspecting production processes for metals
One interesting area of application for radar systems is rolling mills in the steel industry. In general, the earlier defects are detected, the less expensive they are to repair. If a car door has a dent, it is initially easy to sort it out. However, every further production step costs money. Often, sheet metal for car doors is still inspected visually for defects. With a millimeter wave sensor, even the smallest scratches can be reliably detected. In the long term, it would even be possible to achieve 100 percent inspection in this way.
Future trends Smart Factory and additive manufacturing
In the smart factory, both the supply of components and production are to proceed intelligently and autonomously. However, autonomy starts with the sensors: Here, the Production business unit offers the necessary expertise. Individual solutions can also be developed for safety-critical aspects such as machine safeguarding.
With the production of components in the 3D printer, antennas can be printed, for example, or component concepts can be realized that could not be produced in this way before. Together with high-frequency technology, new fields of application are opening up: For example, antennas could be integrated directly into functional components of the production machine by making the component function like an antenna where it is penetrated by the radar wave.