Wednesday, 03 February 2016 00:00

Optical Sorting: What it Is and Why You Need It

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Optical sorting is modern quality control at it finest. Computers and optical interfaces can see and understand things that a human eye may miss, and when incorporated into cold-formed products and fastening components, the results are second to none.

A Short History

The original optical sorters were people standing next to an assembly line. They would look for defects in various products such as foodstuffs (meat, vegetables, and other edible products), industrial supplies, recycling, automotive parts and virtually anything else on a conveyor belt that was ready to be packaged. If a piece of fruit or an industrial part looked bad or had obvious defects, the human optical sorter would remove it from the line.
Analog optical sorting began in the early 1970's, and was used for sorting ferrous and non-ferrous metals. Originally it was found that metals were more easily separated using analog optics than was possible by using the human eye, and these optical sorters became popular in recycling plants to distinguish junk metal from recyclable metal. 
Through the years, with the advancement in cameras, computers, software and light sources, optical sorting has become the most precise method in use, and presents the most complete and total quality control for consumer and industrial products world-wide.

The Principle of Optical Sorting Visual Systems

Modern optical sorters use reflected light from products that pass below photo optics. The image is received by special cameras, including full visual color RGB, ultraviolet UV, an infrared thermal camera, or a specialized charged couple device, also called a CCD camera. These cameras can be used separately or together to gather images from the product that are then sent to a computer interface. The interface has been programmed to accept or reject objects with defects within the parameters of the program.
                         6                                                                                          Optical Sorting


Depending on the program interface, an optical sorter can recognize such things as diameter, length and width, cracks, burrs, chamfer angles, parallel edges and even the hardness of the product. Virtually every one of these requirements cannot be readily discerned by the human eye, and if any of these defects are detected, they will be rejected and they won't make it into the packaged product line.

What this All Means

Because the precision of optical sorting is unmatched, the quality of the item is nearly flawless. Granted, nothing can ever be exactly perfect, but the tolerances on optically sorted goods are so close, they come as close to perfection as possible. This means that optically sorted products (in this case fasteners, like screws, bolts and rivets, and every other product that Akko manufactures) are of the absolute best quality that you can find.


Akko Fastener Inc. is the innovator in the metal products industry. We feature world class quality, exceptional engineering and outstanding customer service. Akko fasteners are cold-formed products at their best.
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