Shape is a key characteristic to determine the quality of outgoing flat-rolled products in the steel industry. It is greatly influenced by flatness, a feature to describe how the surface of a rolled product approaches a plane. Flatness is of the utmost importance in steelmaking, since it is used by most downstream processes and customers for the acceptance or rejection of rolled products. Flatness sensors compute flatness measurements based on comparing the length of several longitudinal fibers of the surface of the product under inspection. Two main different approaches are commonly used. On the one hand, most mechanical sensors measure the tensile stress across the width of the rolled product, while manufacturing and estimating the fiber lengths from this stress. On the other hand, optical sensors measure the length of the fibers by means of light patterns projected onto the product surface. In this paper, we review the techniques and the main sensors used in the steelmaking industry to measure and quantify flatness defects in steel plates, sheets and strips. Most of these techniques and sensors can be used in other industries involving rolling mills or continuous production lines, such as aluminum, copper and paper, to name a few. Encompassed in the special issue, State-of-the-Art Sensors Technology in Spain 2013, this paper also reviews the most important flatness sensors designed and developed for the steelmaking industry in Spain.
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