"In order to achieve and maintain superior quality glass, the manufacturing process includes measurements of individual glass samples from the total number of sheets produced and subsequent manual adjustments to the process to correct problems and maintain satisfactory quality. Samples are typically measured at a frequency of one per hour or less. Manual inspection is done by human and hand tools which contact the material and risk damage to the material and coatings. The low frequency of sampling and slow rate of inspection may result in large quantities of production between sample measurements. This low frequency of sampling can result in large quantities of material produced incorrectly or of inferior quality.
"The device and method of the present invention provides for in situ detection of and differentiation between many coatings, determining the surface to which coatings are applied, and measuring thickness of a transparent sheet, while the sheet moves on a production line and without contacting the sheet. The device and method according to this invention may be used to detect the presence of light reflective coatings, light absorbing coatings, optical coatings, high emissivity coatings and low emissivity coatings, as well as other coatings.
"The device and method according to this invention may be used to inspect optically transparent sheets of various kinds including glass, coated glass, mirrored glass, acrylic, polycarbonate, and other optically transparent or transmissive polymer sheets. Other optically transparent or optically transmissive (high transmission) polymer sheets include, and are not limited to, polypropylene and polyethylene.
"The device and method according to this invention may analyze glass while being moved on a conveyance system in a production process. The conveyance system may employ a belt or rollers or donuts for moving the transparent sheets. The conveyance system may employ an air float system to move the transparent sheets. The conveyance system may be operable at speeds up to 2 msec or higher. The conveyance system may transport glass of widths up to 4 m in width, and from 0.5 mm to 19 mm in thickness. Window-sized pieces of glass may be generally 1 to 2 square meters in size and be transported by the conveyance system.
"The device may use LEDs with wavelengths of 405 nm (near UV), 505 nm (blue), 590 nm (green), 630 nm (red), 850 nm and 1050 nm (near IR).
"The device may use a 2D image generating device (sensor), such as those provided by
"2D CMOS image generating devices have become ubiquitous in cell phones and other portable consumer devices. Using a 2D CMOS image generating device in this application along with LED light sources allows the device to leverage the low cost and high capabilities of these devices. One of the beneficial capabilities of these 2D CMOS sensors is the ability to automatically adjust the image brightness either by adjusting the exposure time or sensor gain electronically. This can be used to compensate for background lighting conditions so as not to require any special filtering of the reflected light. Some of the 2D CMOS sensors also include the ability to compensate for sensor to sensor variation, and to automatically correct for lens distortion. A drawback of using these small 2D CMOS sensors is that because of their small size they require a lens to focus light from the desired measurement volume onto the sensor. Using a lens results in parallax (the apparent change in size and position of an object with distance) and lens distortion which must be accounted for to obtain an accurate measurement of thickness or coating. The sensor may send the measured values to an output such as a display or to other communications interfaces such as Ethernet, USB, serial, wireless, etc.
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