Fully automated inspection of catheters
A manufacturer of medical catheters has successfully automated the inspection of its 2-material, 2-shot molded products. Two Stäubli TX2-60L six-axis robots are responsible for the handling of the catheters after inspection. They do so with a high degree of precision and in compliance with stringent hygiene standards.
In the healthcare industry, there are many single-use devices made from plastics which have to be manufactured in compliance with strict hygiene standards. One such product is catheters. A major European supplier of these devices has now teamed up with MGS Mfg. Group to mold the catheters. The company operates several cleanroom production sites worldwide for healthcare customers, including a cleanroom molding factory in Ireland. This is where the catheters are made.
All catheters are subjected to visual inspection. This was previously performed manually by no fewer than 30 employees. It was very difficult to recruit skilled workers in these numbers, and the quality of the inspection process varied from operator to operator. This was clearly a task that required automation. MGS used their in-house-expertise to develop two automated inspection and sorting cells.
Inspection by four cameras – processing and sorting by robots
Molded catheters are deposited into a hopper at the input side of the cell. The catheters are then dispensed into a vibratory feeder system, where they are oriented correctly and delivered into a servo escapement which separates eight catheters at a time for pickup by a servo transfer robotic arm. The handling unit guides the catheters past all four image processing systems. The cameras detect defects on all sides such as blowholes, sink marks and contamination by fo