Redefining contrast detection

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.

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

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

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