An inductive gap measurement method for square butt joints

Sammanfattning: A recent method in aero engine production is to fabricate components from smaller pieces, rather than machining them from large castings. This has made laser beam welding popular, offering high precision with low heat input and distortion, but also high productivity. At the same time, the demand for automation of production has increased, to ensure high quality and consistent results. In turn, the need for sensors to monitor and control the laser welding process is increasing. In laser beam welding without filler material, the gap between the parts to be joined must be narrow. Optical sensors are often used to measure the gap, but with precise machining, it may become so narrow that it is difficult to detect, with the risk of welding in the wrong position. This thesis proposes the use of an inductive sensor with coils on either side of the gap. Inducing currents into the metal, such a sensor can detect even gaps that are not visible. The new feature of the proposal is based on using the complex response of each coil separately to measure the distance and height on both sides of the gap, rather than an imbalance from the absolute voltage of each coil related to gap position. This extra information allows measurement of gap width and alignment as well as position in a working range of about 1 mm around the gap, and decreases the influence from variation in gap alignment to the position measurement. The sensor needs to be calibrated with a certain gap width and height alignment. In real use, these will vary, causing the sensor to be less accurate. Using initial estimates of the gap parameters from the basic sensor, a model ofthe response can be used to estimate the measurement error of each coil, whichin turn can be used for compensation to improve the measurement of the gap properties. The properties of the new method have been examined experimentally, using aprecise traverse mechanism to record single coil responses in a working range around a variable dimension gap, and then using these responses to simulate atwo coil probe. In most cases errors in the measurement of weld gap position and dimensions are within 0.1 mm. Different coil orientations were studied using numerical simulation, and validated in experiments using a two coil probe. The influence of scratches, chamfers and variation in plate thickness was investigated at different frequencies.