Eurosatory 2014

Laser inspection of barrels (ES14E3)

18 June 2014


or many years, inspection of gun barrels was performed by using mechanical gauges and manually operated borescopes, the latter requiring specialist operators. Laser inspection systems are becoming increasingly popular, because they provide a detailed map of the barrel, allowing manufacturers to assess the tolerances of newly made barrels, while operators can monitor the bore erosion that affects the performance of the weapon.

Laser Techniques Inc (Hall 5, LK637) is an industry leader in the provision of laser inspection. Its BEMIS (bore erosion measurement inspection system) can be used across a wide range of calibres, from 5.56-155mm, and allows the inspection and quantitative measurement of barrels based on real data, rather than the more intuitive assessment provided by a borescope, the quality of which is largely dependent on the experience of the operator.

BEMIS employs a fine laser beam projecting a spot of about 0.05mm diameter onto the surface of the barrel. The laser head rotates as the sensor is drawn through the length of the barrel, using optical triangulation techniques to build up a complete digital model of the geometry of the bore, including accurate details of the grooves and lands. Accuracy is in the range of ±0.012mm.

As well as its barrel manufacturing applications, BEMIS can be used to inspect weapons in the field, spotting anomalies and allowing an assessment as to whether the weapon is fit for purpose. Furthermore, it can also be used to monitor rates of erosion and to predict the remaining useful life of the barrel.

(252 words)