Vial Cap, Crimp, and Plug Inspection

Detect subtle defects that can be signs of cap seal failure

Defects identified on a vial crimp cap

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After filling, a glass vial is plugged with a rubber stopper, or plug. An aluminum cap is then crimped around the upper edge of the vial. The caps can vary in color depending on product. Vial seal integrity is important, as incorrectly sealed vials can lead to leakage or product contamination, with a serious recall risk. Automatic vial visual inspection ensures that only properly sealed vials pass on.

After an initial check of the stopper to detect if it is raised, the cap is crimped over the vial neck.

Vial cap inspection includes checking for missing caps, defective crimping, any other damage, and that the cap color is appropriate to the product. Possible failures could be seemingly minor cosmetic problems, such as scratches or tiny punctures or could indicate potential seal problems and contamination.

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Caps are shiny and look quite different from different angles. Standard vision systems can find it hard to distinguish defects under these conditions, often leading to unnecessary rejections for purely cosmetic variations.

The solution is a combination of standard machine vision and deep learning. Vision systems inspect caps from a variety of angles, such as underneath the vial neck as well as from above down, confirming correct dimensions, proper positioning, and other issues. Cognex AI-based technology inspects for unpredictable scratches, punctures, and other defects and is able to distinguish between purely cosmetic defects and functional ones. Together these technologies improve quality, minimize unnecessary scrap, and increase throughput.

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