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Thermal imager `costs 60% less than rivals`

08 October, 2008

The German sensing specialist Micro-Epsilon has unveiled its first infrared thermal imaging camera which, it claims, cost up to 60% less than its nearest rivals. The PI (Process Imager) is an inline radiometric thermal imaging device designed to operate in a fixed position to provide temperature images and profiles of targets such as conveyor bearings or items passing along a belt.

The PI (above) costs around £6,000 in the UK, including software that enables users both to configure it and to capture and store images or events for later playback. It operates at full frame rate of 100Hz – up to four times faster than some rival devices, according to Chris Jones, Micro-Epsilon’s UK managing director.

“Many process plants have maintenance technicians who patrol certain areas of the plant using relatively expensive handheld thermal imaging cameras to monitor critical processes or equipment,” Jones says. “The Micro-Epsilon PI can be installed in a fixed monitoring position next to a critical part of the production process, to constantly monitor a target material or object. The relatively low cost of the system makes it a viable option for many plants.”

The price reduction has been achieved partly by using a PC to perform some of the processing usually done by on-board electronics. The imager can be linked to a PC located up to 20m away via a USB 2.0 interface.

The imager can measure temperatures from –20°C to +900°C with an accuracy of ±2°C or ±2%. It incorporates a 160 x 120 pixel sensor and offers a choice of lenses with different fields of view.

As well as the USB interface, the PI has a programmable 0-10V analogue output and programmable limit switches. Target temperatures or other data can be transmitted to other logging equipment or alarms. An alarm can be triggered if user-defined temperature limits are exceeded. The IP65-protected device weighs 250g, is powered at 5V DC via the USB interface, and draws a maximum of 500mA.

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