Both old and new ways evolve

Vision and imaging products and technologies are constantly experiencing changes that improve established methods. As described in this month's feature articles, novel approaches are being used to inspect boards using ultraviolet illumination and pinpoint gunshot locations. Conventional methods are being refined in the areas of web inspection, microscopy, and smart cameras.

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Vision and imaging products and technologies are constantly experiencing changes that improve established methods. As described in this month's feature articles, novel approaches are being used to inspect boards using ultraviolet illumination and pinpoint gunshot locations. Conventional methods are being refined in the areas of web inspection, microscopy, and smart cameras.

All printed-circuit boards (PCBs) are scrupulously inspected for missing and skewed parts, as well as other defects. Various imaging-inspection techniques accomplish this manufacturing process. One novel technique differs from other methods, reports contributing editor Larry Curran, in that it uses ultraviolet light to detect numerous board assembly flaws on PCBs (see p. 25).

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Human casualties of illegal gunfire have recently plagued schools, businesses, and government agencies, among others. To combat unlawful gun use, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department has installed a gunshot-location imaging system. As described by editor Andy Wilson, several acoustic sensors are positioned throughout a specific area and are networked over standard telephone lines to a police dispatch center. Within seconds after gunfire, the exact location of that site is calculated by triangulation methods and imaged on a computer map (see p. 41).

Because web manufacturing operates at fast speeds to produce rolls of material in thin, flexible, sheet form, vision systems have proved highly successful as automated optical inspection platforms for this industry. They can quickly find multiple types of product defects reliable and accurately. According to contributing editor Charlie Masi, an automated web-inspection system is examining metallized plastic film for manufacturing defects to ensure 100% quality control (see p. 49).

Optical microscopes are still the primary inspection tools for examining small parts and materials. But microscopes and their related support devices and software tools are expensive and come from several sources. To save costs, says contributing editor Joe Hallett, some users select affordable platforms, others opt for a turnkey system from resellers and systems integrators, and still others assemble available equipment within their own companies (see p. 35).

Smart cameras lower the cost of integration and relieve developers' design burden of choosing individual cameras, frame grabbers, and software. However, these cameras can be less effective in applications that call for open, easily programmable hardware. In this month's Product Focus, editor Andy Wilson explains how, with embedded image processors, smart cameras are decreasing integration costs and promoting network and PC interfacing (see p. 57).

George Kotelly, Editor in Chief
georgek@pennwell.com

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