Thermal imaging for bonding efficiency

Paul Boughton

Many cars achieve their low weight and strength through the use of bonded, composite materials. The layers are generally bonded using an induction heating process that has to be carefully monitored to ensure the correct temperature is reached for curing. At Fiat a FLIR A-Series thermal imaging camera is responsible for this task.

To achieve the necessary bond between the layers, the adhesive needs to reach a temperature between 150º to 180ºC. If one or more of the adhesion points fails to reach cure temperature, a serious weakness in the panel or component will result.

The FLIR A-Series camera is able to detect temperature differences as small as .05ºC and produces thermal images at a resolution of 640 x 480 pixels. If the induction heating process fails to reach the correct temperature, an alarm will sound to indicate an unsuccessful bond. The component is then discarded, assuring Fiat’s high quality standards are upheld.

Thanks to the FLIR software development kit (SDK), an interface for the camera was created to acquire thermal data from induction heating process. This data is needed not just for accurate process control but is also stored for future traceability.

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