Quality and Reliability Engineering International

Detection of circlelike overlapping objects in thermal spray images

Early View

Abstract In this paper, we present a new algorithm for the detection of distorted and overlapping circlelike objects in noisy grayscale images. Its main step is an edge detection using rotated difference kernel estimators. To the resulting estimated edge points, circles are fitted in an iterative manner using a circular clustering algorithm. A new measure of similarity can assess the performance of algorithms for the detection of circlelike objects, even if the number of detected circles does not coincide with the number of true circles. We apply the algorithm to scanning electron microscope images of a high‐velocity oxygen fuel (HVOF) spray process, which is a popular coating technique. There, a metal powder is fed into a jet, gets accelerated and heated up by means of a mixture of oxygen and fuel, and finally deposits as coating upon a substrate. If the process is stopped before a continuous layer is formed, the molten metal powder solidifies in form of small, almost circular so‐called splats, which vary with regard to their shape, size, and structure and can overlap each other. As these properties are challenging for existing image processing algorithms, engineers analyze splat images manually up to now. We further compare our new algorithm with a baseline approach that uses the Laplacian of Gaussian blob detection. It turns out that our algorithm performs better on a set of test images of round, spattered, and overlapping circles.

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