SRI International (SRI), a non-profit research centre, has partnered with Kawada Technologies, Inc. (KTI) and Kawada Industries to develop weld-visualisation technology for a 3D welding helmet.
The companies will co-develop Xtreme Dynamic Range (XDR) weld visualisation technology that uses image processing to safely visualise live weld details to the welder. The XDR technology will then be applied to a next-generation, 3D-welding helmet that uses cameras.
The objective of the project is to improve welding quality by enhancing visibility of the welding scene using ordinary image sensors rather than high cost sensors.
The next-generation, 3D-welding helmet equipped with XDR acquires and synthesises images as a stereo camera unit. The images are displayed inside the helmet on a head-mounted display as a stereo image.
“Kawada came to SRI with a need to greatly shorten the time required to train new welding technicians while continuing to pass down welding knowledge in an effective manner to new welders,” said Mike Piacentino, Senior Technical Director of Vision Systems for SRI International.
“The real-time weld-visualisation technology developed by SRI provides higher dynamic range to allow humans and robotic welders to see more than just the welding tip.”
“The ability to view real-time welds maintains quality and informs the welder of low quality or possibly failing welds, which is a critical advantage over conventional welding where precision welds are critical to structural integrity and public safety of infrastructure such as construction and bridge engineering.”
The next-generation, 3D-welding helmet will be improved over the next year and will be utilised to teach technical welding skills at Kawada Industries.
“Welding is the most important and difficult skill to transfer from skilled welders to novice welders,” said Noriyuki Kanehira, Project Leader and Director at Kawada Technology Research Centre.
“Visualisation is the key. In conventional welding, the operator can see only the tint bright area of the arc and everything else is darkened by the thick shading filter attached to the welding helmet.”
“This new technology developed by SRI clearly visualises the entire area of the workspace with appropriate brightness and contrast. Welding visualisation directly leads to stabilising welding quality and providing trace-ability.”