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Industrial CT for automotive connectors

nikonmetrology automotive ct for automotive electronic connectorsThe manufacturing of electronic connectors has become more complex as miniaturization has driven the need for components to become smaller with tighter tolerances.

At the same time, hundreds of thousands of connectors are produced each day for automotive, aerospace and medical devices. This requires a faster, more accurate and automated inspection of connector components to enable zero-defect production.

Traditional manual methods of inspection, such as measuring microscopes, cannot cope with the high production rates, do not provide any insight on internal dimensions –unless they are sliced- and are prone to user errors.


Basics of industrial CT

nikon metrology xray principle blue connectorNikon Metrology has been a pioneer in micro-focus industrial CT since the 1980s. Nikon's X-ray sources are designed and manufactured in-house since 1987. This control over the X-ray source technology allows Nikon Metrology to move with the market, and develop complete and innovative solutions to the application demand.

The way computed tomography works, is that a series of 2D X-ray images are captured while a part rotates. All these 2D images are reconstructed to create a 3D model that can be used to:

  • Measure at micron level internal/external dimensions without sectioning the sample
  • Compare to golden part or CAD model
  • Automatically detect and measure internal voids/volumes
  • Visualize any part section at any angle


Challenges with connector inspection

Company level

  • Zero-defect production to avoid costly production losses / recall claims
  • Quality demands of customers increase
  • Increased competitive pressure

Quality department

  • Production deviations and trend analysis, often impossible due to lack of digital reporting data
  • Traditional inspection methods are time-consuming and operator dependent
  • More complex parts, more variants
  • Qualified personnel is hard to find


Nikon CT solution

nikonmetrology automotive ct for automotive electronic connector orange

Nikon Industrial CT is designed to meet the increasingly high demands that automotive connector manufacturers require.

Nikon CT makes analysing internal structure and dimensions quick and straightforward. No need for disassembly or destruction of expensive prototypes or assemblies, CT introduces faster problem solving and more effective decision making with micron-level accuracy and high-resolution images.

  • Fast data collection (3 min/sample) and analysis to give sufficient data for trend analysis
  • Detailed (dimensional and defect) analysis without increasing inspection time
  • Operator independent “Go/No Go” instant reporting
  • Central digital storage of data for trend analysis
  • Fully programmable IPC software interfaces with external devices (Robots, Loading systems)


Speeding up inspection with semi-automated CT

For inspection of large number of samples, semi-automated CT inspection systems inspects a rack of multiple parts that are moved individually to the CT scan position by an internal loading system.

Production metadata of parts is automatically recognized, and adjust all scanning parameters accordingly, removing possible operator error. Inspection results can be written back to the database for further analysis or to preserve data history.

Fully automated in-process CT

The in-line CT inspection system is a solution for fully automated production environments. With no user input the complete CT inspection process is automated: robots load/unload from conveyors and position parts in the CT system via an automated door. The part is then automatically scanned, analyzed and sentenced.

Watch the video below for a demonstration of how in-process CT works.


Interior controls and safety components such as indicator storks and HVAC switches are another example. Consisting of plastic moulded structures with electronic components inside, CT is able to verify structural integrity and alignment of the housing as well as internal electronic connections.

With one scan, the 3D volumetric model can be manipulated endlessly to obtain the information required, all without damaging, dissecting or even touching the component.

Read more in the Mindarika case story