Methods for controlling weld penetration for arc welding processes from top-side measurements have long been sought. One indirect variable that has been reported to correlate with penetration is weld pool geometry. A system which uses weld pool geometry sensing for controlling weld penetration is described in this paper. The system uses a miniature camera mounted in a modified coaxial viewing torch to view the weld pool. A robust machine vision algorithm has been developed for this system to measure weld pool width. The algorithm was designed to locate the edges of the weld pool despite the presence of other edges caused by the heat affected zone, scratches, marks, and weld pool impurities. The algorithm uses a matched edge filter and a majority voting scheme to measure the width of the pool. A control system was developed to regulate weld pool width in the presence of disturbances caused by such items as incorrect parameter settings, small variations in material composition, and material thickness changes. Experiments were conducted to test the control system by simulating some of these disturbances. The experiments demonstrated that for certain classes of materials, this technique works quite well. However, for other materials such as stainless steel 304, surface impurities in the weld pool visually obscure the weld pool and its edges to such a degree that the system fails to lock onto the edges of the pool.

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