SRC Vision, a maker of optical sorting systems, is targeting the plastics industry and has several patents pending for its process. The Medford, Ore., firm, which makes flake and bottle sorters, developed its optical sorting technology for the food industry. French fries would travel down a conveyor and, through a series of camera and lighting systems, the fries with bruises or defects would be sorted out.
With the cameras and lights, the flake sorters separate clear and green PET, caps from milk jugs and colors of high density polyethylene. The undesirable material is removed through binary sortation; at one decision point, a blast of air blows the material into another column, said SRC industry specialist Steve Lancaster.
The system employs X-rays, ultraviolet light, visible and infrared rays, reflectance, a monochromatic camera, and a color camera called Cyclops. The Cyclops camera, which has a patent pending, can separate 16 million colors of red, green and blue combinations.
The bottle sorters use the same techniques and also have PVC detection. By the first quarter of next year, the company plans to offer PVC detection on its flake sorters as well, and has applied for a patent for the process.
The machines can separate 5,000-10,000 pounds per hour.
SRC estimates it has sold 10 sorters to post-consumer plastic processors in the past year. A typical flake sorter costs about $180,000, while a bottle sorter costs $140,000. The company's total sales were $21 million last year.
SRC's parent company, ARC Capital, also is located in Medford. Earlier this year, ARC acquired one of SRC's competitors, Pulsarr of Eindhoven, the Netherlands, which now serves as SRC's representative in Europe.