Design and Integration of a Metal Tube Quality Inspection and Sorting Machine

A customer in a classified industry requiring the highest levels of accuracy and precision requested a system for inspecting and sorting metal tubes. Mercator Robotec designed a machine vision inspection system to identify tubes with damage, flaring, or tube end defects (flashing, improper deburring). Our two machine vision smart camera systems incorporate a telecentric lens with an on-axis LED strobe light that illuminates the flat end surfaces of the tubes. After inspection, the machine automatically sorts the inspected parts into Pass, Fail, and Rework bins.

We integrated this automated metal tube inspection and sorting machine into our customer’s existing line. A new Allen Bradley Micrologix 1100 PLC was interlocked with their existing Allen Bradley machine controller. An Allen Bradley Panel View Human Machine Interface (HMI) was provided for machine setup and control. A 15” touch screen monitor and micro PC were used to provide a HMI for the machine vision system. Capabilities include monitoring run time condition, adjusting setup parameters, displaying production statistics, and evaluating failed inspection images. Mercator Robotec also provided documentation in the form of mechanical detail drawings, SolidWorks machine modeling, and operating instructions.

To learn more about this project or other products and services, please contact Mercator Robotec.

Project Highlights for this Metal Tube Quality Inspection and Sorting Machine

Product Description Mercator Robotec Inc. designed and integrated this automated machine for the inspection and sorting of tubes.
Capabilities Applied/Processes Design of Machine Vision Inspection System and part handling/sorting machine.

  • Development of System to Interface w/ the Existing Line
  • Develop System to Inspect/Check:
    • Tube Ends to Ensure Proper Deburring, No Flashing, Determined by Illuminating the Flat End Surface of Tube
    • Damage and Flaring
  • Sort Inspected parts into Pass, Fail and Rework Bins

Development of HMI Applications – Machine Vision HMI and Allen Bradley Panel view HMI for machine setup/control.

PLC Programming


  • New Allen Bradley Micrologix PLC is Interlocked to Existing Allen Bradley Control


  • Solid Works machine model
  • Mechanical Detail Drawings
  • Operating Instructions
System Features & Specifications Two Machine Vision Smart Camera Systems

  • Each Camera has 1600 x 1200 Pixel Resolution
  • Telecentric Lens w/ an on Axis LED Strobe Light
  • Human Machine Interface (HMI)
  • 15″ Touchscreen Monitor
  • Micro PC
  • Monitors Run Time Condition
  • Adjusts Setup Parameters
  • Displays Production Statistics
  • Evaluation of Failed Inspection Images
  • Electrical Enclosure to House Control Equipment
  • Allen Bradley MicroLogix 1100 PLC
In process testing performed The inspection system is validated periodically with known defective parts.
Industry for Use Nuclear
Delivery Time 12-14 Weeks after Receipt of Order
Standards Met Customer supplied specifications
Product Name Automated Metal Tube Inspection and Sorting Machine