Traditionally the integration of thermal imaging into the design and production process has been a relatively time-consuming task. However, Flir's new ThermoVision A-Series takes the easy connectivity common in the visual camera sector and applied it to infrared.
Flir claims these are the first thermal cameras to be compatible with GigEVision and GenICam standards and to feature a trigger/synchronisation capability. This flexibility also allows the seamless integration of third-party hardware and software. The Gigabit Ethernet interface ensures that even over long distances a high-speed frame rate is achieved, up to 60Hz of the full 16-bit image. This is important, as many applications call for advanced image analysis and manipulation.
All that is needed to receive high-quality, real-time radiometric images is to connect the ThermoVision A320G camera to a PC and install the software - making the system truly 'plug-and-play.' The fixed-installation camera provides excellent live images with 320 x 240 pixel resolution from a Flir Systems detector. The company also claims that it remains unique in its ability to manufacture all of its cameras' vital elements, including the optics. This provides Flir Systems with full control over quality and availability.
The impressive feature set and installation simplicity of this new addition to the Flir Systems A-Series belie its cost. This unit is described as 'easily affordable' and capable of delivering a short and favourable return on investment.
Two versions of the thermal camera are available, the A320G full frame rate and the A320G 9Hz. They have a built-in 25-degree motorised lens with autofocus, with other lenses optionally available. Both cameras provide a 'sixth sense' by monitoring what is invisible to the naked eye, providing quality assurance in a fast and simple way.
The compact ThermoVision A320G constantly monitors the process, with infrared data providing an early warning of quality-related issues that may compromise the result or output. It adds a new dimension to machine vision and is suitable for applications involving non-destructive testing. As a design tool, the proven, time-saving abilities of infrared are complemented by this model's easy set-up. It therefore ensures quality and cuts time-to-market.
The main beneficiaries of this technology are those already accustomed to automatic monitoring and detection methods such as machine vision and non-destructive testing. Typical applications in the automotive sector, for example, will be air conditioning and window-defrost verification, friction control of tyres, and checking the efficiency of car seat heating. And in electronics it will be used for PCB testing and verification, fault tracing in board assemblies and in power electronics design. The scope and potential of the ThermoVision A320G, however, extends across many industries and diverse applications. Another example, from the food packaging industry, would be the filling of opaque pots with drinking yoghurt, where the level of the relatively cool yoghurt is clearly visible against the freshly moulded (and still warm) pot. In the aerospace industry, infrared cameras can be used in conjunction with a heater to check for flaws in laminated structures
In common with all Flir Systems cameras, the new A-Series comes with the necessary software to get started. IP Configuration Utility and IR Monitor allow the production of an image within minutes of the camera being set up and connected to the PC. For those requiring a degree of low-level programming, an A320 control and image interface are included.
For research and development applications, the advanced ThermaCAM Researcher software is recommended. This package has been developed for use in scientific environments where detailed thermal analysis of dynamic events is required. It offers powerful tools for fast and extensive analysis. An optional systems development kit (SDK) for Visual Studio users and a LabView toolkit are also available, enabling the functionality of the camera to be optimised for specific needs.