From R&D to a full-line systems provider for total quality control

In just a few years, PIXARGUS has evolved from a three-man start-up into a leading technology provider, whose machine vision systems have become indispensible assets in the process chains of world-leading manufacturers of high-tech components.

Starting out from optical measurement and surface inspection devices for rubber and plastic profiles, PIXARGUS has continuously expanded its range of products. Today we serve the market as a full-line systems provider for all measurement requirements in inline quality inspection - for example, in quality control of carbon fiber web material.

In 1999, after several years of research and development work in the field of image processing technology, Dr. Jürgen Philipps established PIXARGUS as a spin-off of the Institute of Plastics Processing of the Technical University RWTH of Aachen, Germany, together with René Beaujean and Björn Lindner. “We had started to acquire our extensive image processing know-how long before we founded PIXARGUS. Therefore, our technological lead is backed by 25 years of active research and development”, say the founders of the company.

With its very first product, ProfilControl, Pixargus soon became the leading provider of optical surface inspection systems for rubber profiles used in the automotive industry. Worldwide almost all major manufacturers of automotive rubber profiles use Pixargus systems for their surface inspection tasks.

Pixargus soon introduced its systems series ProfilControl Dimension for measuring the dimensions of the profiles. Shortly afterwards, the company launched the integrated ProfileControl Dual Head solution, which combines both dimension measurement and surface inspection of profiles in one unit.
In order to start quality assurance of extruded rubber profiles as early as possible in the production chain, Pixargus took the next step and moved profile control “upstream” by introducing ProfilControl Roughness, a system capable of checking - in an automated process - the quality of compounds.

Another development milestone was the transition from 360-degree measurements of profiles to the inspection of web material, such as woven and non-woven fabrics, foils or plates, which may have very complex textures and structures. The image processing algorithms developed by Pixargus are even capable of detecting “hidden” flaws, i.e. those difficult to discern against heavily textured structures of the material.

Pixargus gradually diversified its service and product portfolio: Based on the initial products, the company developed systems for cables, hoses and tubing - first for the automotive industry, later also for medical applications - and for tubes and pipes. Later on, systems for windshield wipers, rubber profiles for window frames and high-precision sections made of metal were added.

While holding a worldwide market leadership with its ProfilControl system, Pixargus soon became increasingly renowned as specialists for highly complex, challenging inspection tasks. Jürgen Philipps: “Our specialty is that we can provide complete, integrated solutions even for most challenging out-of-the-ordinary requirements. In other words: Pixargus takes the next step where others stop. We had started to acquire our extensive image processing know-how long before we founded Pixargus. Therefore, our technological lead is backed by 25 years of active research and development.”

Pixargus develops an integrated solution for quality control in CRFP manufacturing and becomes the general contractor for the complete inline measuring equipment in the complex quality control process for carbon fiber fabrics used to make car body components for a new generation of electric vehicles made by a leading German premium car producer.

With the development of its innovative Free Fall Inspection systems, Pixargus takes optical inspection to the next level: from endless to single piece inspection. FFI systems provide optical inspection of cut-to-length hypo and precision tubing for medical applications, products that have to meet extremely exacting surface and edge quality demands.

The same technology that Pixargus uses for measuring defects in moving profiles forms the basis of the goal-line technology for football fields developed by its subsidiary GoalControl. Based on
images sent by up to 14 cameras installed around the pitch, this image processing system instantly detects whether or not the ball has passed over the goal line. The system enjoyed an extremely successful premiere at the 2014 FIFA World CupTM in Brazil and is in use today, among others, in stadiums of the French football association.

The new system generation - ProfilControl 7 - is a milestone in automated inline quality inspection of products such as profiles, sealings, tubing, tubes and cables. For the first time ever, several measuring tasks can be performed simultaneously thanks to the unique Hybrid Power multi-camera sensor technology developed by Pixargus. With newly developed lighting elements, a specialist software and the further enhanced Human Machine Interface, ProfilControl 7 impressively demonstrates how intelligent “machine vision” works. And on top of that: 100% “Made in Germany”!

Industry 4.0 plays an increasingly important role in the manufacturing world. Pixargus pioneers digitalization in automotive construction by demonstrating in a joint project with carbon fiber specialist SGL and car maker BMW how digital production works in practice. The three partnering high-end companies jointly develop a Big Data analysis method that uses background information captured and stored by the Pixargus high-resolution cameras during inspection for statistics, forecasts and process optimization. With its production characterized by deep digitalization and networked data flows, the SGL-BMW joint venture plays a trailblazer role in bringing “Industry 4.0” to composite materials manufacturing.

The new generation of the WebControl Surface inspection systems excels in all respects – but particularly when it comes to detecting defects in highly complex foil textures and technological web products. While other players on the inspection technology market are focusing on the inspection of homogeneous material structures, the Pixargus systems perform just as reliably with highly erratic patterns. Besides producers of fiber composite materials, suppliers of materials such as ultra-fine fabrics for fuel sieves are impressed by the new systems’ performance. Web inspection experiences a boost. Even single-piece inspection of cut fiber-reinforced composite plates becomes feasible.

Measuring technology specialist Pixargus is notable especially as a supplier of high-end solutions for technologically challenging quality inspection tasks. In 2019, Pixargus also sets a strong foot in the lower-budget segment. The magic word here is “downsizing” or how Head of Sales, Michael Frohn, puts it: “We offer high performance at an affordable price.” The product portfolio was actually expanded by two new systems: iProfilControl, the compact basic solution for 100% inspection of profile surfaces and/or geometries, and AllRounDia DualVision, Pixargus’ answer to the market’s demand for cost-efficient 360° inspection of round products.

What has been extremely difficult terrain for inline quality inspection so far is now daily business for two products of the ProfilControl 7 systems generation: surface inspection of corrugated tubing, and measuring the internal geometries of cut profiles. The agile measuring technologists at Pixargus have taken these two highly complex tasks as a challenge. IT and mechanical engineering specialists work hand in hand with their customers to build a software architecture that really meets their needs.

Pixargus stands for engineering par excellence made in Germany. With decades of experience and knowhow from a wide range of applications, the company has established itself as a driver for innovation in quality assurance of today and tomorrow. Whether you are looking for a specialized, technologically very demanding or a standard solution, whether you are a global player planning a large-scale project or an SME interested in a small-budget system, we always find the right solution – together with you.

Measuring technology specialist PIXARGUS has successfully evolved from a start-up into a global player in optical inline quality control. Now, the company is intensifying its activities on the US and Asian markets under the umbrella of CiTEX Holding GmbH. CiTEX is a group of strong, highly specialized partners cooperating in the field of extrusion technology. Managing Director, René Beaujean, puts it this way: “The closeness to the other CiTEX companies provides PIXARGUS an excellent strategic position. We have created an ideal basis from which we can all benefit and grow in the future.”