Home > Redefining contrast detection

Redefining contrast detection

Supplier News
article image TwinEye-Technologie optimises process stability even under difficult detection conditions.

With its KTS and KTX product families, SICK is presenting new, powerful contrast sensors from a forward-looking, innovative platform. The patented TwinEye-Technologie for improved contrast detection, the specially developed three-colour LED with its high-precision, colour-mixed light spot, and the jitter that has been minimised to a level never before seen, coupled with absolute high-speed switching frequencies, open up a world of new possibilities when it comes to detecting contrasts and – for the first time in a sensor – colours too. IO-Link and integrated additional functions such as recipe management ensure maximum versatility – while the innovative, multifunctional 7-segment display guarantees simple, yet customised sensor setup, operation, and visualisation.

Improved performance, better process stability, and more design freedom – that is what SICK’s new generation of contrast sensors, in their rugged VISTAL housing, stand for. The KTX product family offers compatibility without compromise: both the hole pattern for mounting the sensors and the electrical connectivity required facilitate a 1:1 migration from the SICK product families that are already proven and widespread on the market to the new technology platform. In its space-saving compact housing, the KTS meets all possible requirements for mounting in confined spaces. The contrast sensors come in ‘CORE’ and ‘PRIME’ configurations; these offer different levels of functionality, enabling a variety of different automation needs to be met individually and cost-effectively. The even more finely granular grayscale resolution of the KTS and KTX, the integrated colour mode, and a large number of other technical innovations in both product families are setting a new standard in the market for contrast sensor technology – and opening up additional areas of application at the same time.

TwinEye-Technologie: optimised process stability even under difficult detection conditions

Not much difference in contrast between a mark and its background, high-gloss surfaces, or jittering webs: these are all application conditions under which conventional contrast sensors that can evaluate just one channel soon reach their limits. The KTS PRIME and KTX PRIME product families can meet this challenge thanks to their patented TwinEye-Technologie from SICK. This is made possible thanks to a second receiving channel – the first time this has ever been done in a contrast sensor – which analyses the optically split remission signal from the material surface and compensates for any noise pulses it contains, thus guaranteeing a stable and controlled switching behaviour. This functionality results in a significantly larger depth of field range, as well as a sensing distance tolerance of ± 5 mm, which is as-yet unique in contrast sensors of this type. For the process, that means improved performance due to better process stability and less risk of machine downtimes. A ‘pleasant side-effect’ of TwinEye-Technologie is the completely new mounting feedback function, which visually shows the ideal operating point while the sensor is being attached and set up.

Setup and operation with the multifunctional 7-segment display

The KTS and KTX product families are breaking new ground when it comes to setting up contrast sensors and individual setting options. The central operating element in the respective PRIME versions is a multifunctional 7-segment display. Intuitive pushbutton navigation through the operator menu allows parameters to be input and queried on the device quickly and easily – it is also where various teach-in processes can be launched, for perfect sensor and process adjustments. The display can be rotated according to the installation position, so sensors can be operated easily, even when mounted and information such as contrast quality or the mounting feedback display is well visible. The KTS CORE user interface is restricted to basic functions – with a bar graph and either various function buttons or, in the ‘EASY TEACH’ version, just one pushbutton.

High-precision LED allows for a combination of contrast and colour sensor technology

Another innovative feature of the new contrast sensors is the specially developed three-colour LED. For a start, it creates a very focused and sharply contoured light spot on the object surface, thus facilitating excellent grayscale resolution, an improved depth of field, and greater switching accuracy. What’s more, the colour proportions of red, green, and blue are very well mixed – so there is no longer any offset when changing from one LED colour to another, meaning there is no longer any need to make readjustments on the machine either. Finally, the new high-precision LED enables contrast detection to be expanded with the addition of the ‘colour’ feature. This opens up new application possibilities for both the KTS PRIME and the KTX PRIME, as the sensors can now detect very fine contrast and colour differences in one device with a high degree of process reliability, while also blanking interfering colour gradients and imprints on the surface or noise from the detection background.

‘Mini jitter, maxi resolution’ variants

Speed and accuracy – having both simultaneously is crucial when contrast sensors are used in printing and packaging machines, for example. While the KTS CORE offers a response time of 20 µs and jitter of 10 µs, the PRIME versions of the KTS and the KTX achieve real top values of a 10 µs response time and a 5 µs jitter. However, the ‘High Precision’ versions of the KTS PRIME and KTX PRIME are defining the latest state of the art regarding speed and precision with a jitter of just 3 µs – and that’s at a switching frequency of 70 kHz. This type of signal accuracy gives multicolour printing in high-speed machines a completely new level of quality. And when it comes to tasks such as detecting almost imperceptible differences in contrast or complex label structures, where particular demands are placed on grayscale resolution, KTS PRIME ‘High Sensitivity’ is just the sensor for the job.

Integrated additional functions – not only – via IO-Link

Intelligence and communication capability inside the sensor – the contrast sensors from the KTS PRIME and KTX PRIME product families are all set for Industry 4.0 too: they are equipped with IO-Link as standard. Controls can transfer data to the sensor for configuration purposes, for example; and process, service, and diagnostic data from the sensor can be queried by the control and visualised on control panels. The time stamp function integrated in a special version of the sensors also enables the position of objects to be determined very precisely based on a time value and, consequently, allows machine processes to be perfectly synchronised. The contrast sensors offer two options for batch and recipe management: either download an unlimited number of settings from the automation system via IO-Link or retrieve them directly from the sensor’s job memory – where up to five different formats can be saved remotely.

More innovations, more functions, more flexibility in applications both old and new

TwinEye-Technologie,high-precision LED, contrast and colour detection in one device, top performance regarding speed and precision, intuitive operation, intelligence, and integrated additional functions – the KTS and KTX product families are redefining the field of contrast detection. Familiar applications such as the detection of print marks or the control of industrial labelling processes benefit from even greater process stability and performance. And for new application areas such as the detection of wafers, the management of reel changes, or quality control, the SICK technology platform provides an expanded solution space. KTS and KTX – the new generation that impresses thanks to future-proof performance.

Written by Stieven Haffa, Registration Sensors Product Manager, and Ralf Meyer, Registration Sensors & Light Grids Project Manager, SICK AG, Waldkirch, Germany

Newsletter sign-up

The latest products and news delivered to your inbox