Strobe lights are a simple yet effective tool for inspection and quality control at full production speed. When timed with the moving object, the rapid flash of a strobe will “freeze” an image of the part of the line that the eye sees when the light flashes.
Xenon-based strobe lights have been used for over 40 years to ‘stop the blur’ and allow operators to confirm product quality or troubleshoot a moving system. Xenon lights have flashtubes with energy supplied from the capacitor. Once the capacitor has been charged, a small amount of power is diverted into a trigger transformer, which ionizes the Xenon gas in the flash tube. This allows the capacitors to quickly release their energy into the lamp terminal, creating an arc inside the tube. The plasma discharge from the arc is seen as a flash.
Unlike Xenon-light sources, which produce light along the entire length of the lamp’s arc, LEDs can be thought of a point source of light. An LED strobe light is typically comprised of a matrix of LEDs (light emitting diodes), which are solid state and do not use a gas to create illumination. As a result LED technology allows strobe lights to be built into virtually any shape or size, and the projected light pattern can be tailored to fit almost any application.
Although first generation LEDs did not produce as much light as traditional Xenon strobes, they are now equal or brighter than Xenon strobes.
Other advantages of LEDs include:
- Energy Efficient: LEDs consume 25% to 35% of the power consumption of comparable Xenon strobes.
- Less Maintenance: LEDs last longer than Xenon bulbs for greater cost-efficiency – 8 years versus 6 months for Xenon strobes.
- More Defined Inspection Area: LEDs are ideally suited for pairing with lenses that concentrate the light output and reduce light spillage into areas outside of the intended target.
- Eliminate Downtime: With multiple diodes, LEDs can provide sufficient light for inspection even if one or more diodes burn out, avoiding downtime that can undermine xenon-based lights when the one bulb burns out.
- Increased Safety: LEDs eliminate the environmental and safety concerns associated with Xenon based lights because ozone is not a by-product. A more defined inspection area also eliminates spillover that can temporarily vision for someone walking by the strobes on the production floor.
- Better for Operators: The light emitted by LEDs is more uniform across the web, eliminating very bright “hot spots” that make inspection difficult and uncomfortable, and that contribute to operator fatigue.
- More Consistent: LED output is extremely stable and has no arc wander or flash-to-flash variation associated with Xenon light sources.
- Crisp, Sharp Detail: LEDs are capable of running at much higher flash rates than Xenon strobes without the loss of intensity that was required with Xenon-based lights.
- Eliminate Material Glare: LEDs have a softer light that works better with highly reflective materials including steel, foils and metallic substrates.
- Ideal for High Speed Applications: With higher flash rates and a more defined coverage area, LEDs are well suited for slitter/rewinder inspection which require high speed capability.
Both Xenon and LED strobes offer various options to control what inspectors need to see with greater mounting flexibility to fit any plant layout. Whatever you select, you need to have confidence that the light will best help inspect the product and protect your reputation by delivering the quality that your customers require.