Smart cameras drive machine vision

MARCH 20--Manufacturers of vision-system technologies are finding it extremely challenging to keep pace with developments in the semiconductor industry.

MARCH 20--Manufacturers of vision-system technologies are finding it extremely challenging to keep pace with developments in the semiconductor industry. Miniaturization of components is creating the need for higher-throughput vision systems that offer superior accuracy levels. "Commensurate advancements in lighting and illumination, lasers, lighting, processors, sensors, and optics have to complement machine-vision systems," reiterates Vishnu Sivadevan, Frost and Sullivan (San Antonio, TX;technicalinsights.frost.com) research analyst. "Developers face the challenge of reducing setup time and also incorporating greater enhanced functionality, scalability, and upgradeability."

"End users are demanding quick return of investment and are attempting to make a futuristic investment in vision systems, choosing judiciously from a range of products, which differ in cost and functionality," explains Sivadevan.

The increasing need to optimize production processes is one of the key drivers of development of innovative machine-vision technologies. Basler Vision Technologies (Ahrensburg, Germany;www.baslerweb.com), a manufacturer of vision-based optical media inspection equipment has developed a laser-based measurement approach. The third generation optical media--the blue ray disk--requires highly accurate cover layer uniformity and has posed a significant challenge to machine-vision system manufacturers in reducing cover layer thickness and the microscopic surface deformations. Basler's scanners enhance the optical effect of deformation and can spot defects that are present either on the information or covering layer of the disc.

High-end machine-vision applications are progressing from two-dimensional (2-D) to three-dimensional (3-D) imaging with techniques such as laser triangulation and stereovision. 3-D chip-based vision systems are emerging as cost-effective alternatives to weight sensors and stereovision techniques in automotive applications. "Upgrading to 3-D inspection systems from 2-D inspection systems would constitute a phenomenal leap in performance for certain applications," observes Sivadevan.

SICK IVP (Linköping, Sweden;www.sickivp.se) has introduced a 3-D vision smart camera that uses laser triangulation for high-performance capture of 3-D images. Due to 3-D inspection capabilities, the camera has versatile qualities that enable it to perform inspection, location, and measurements of objects to enhance production processes. This 3-D smart vision system, which also incorporates tools that can estimate height and volume, is set to make an impact on robotic guidance applications such as bin picking, inspection of connector pins, and inspection of weld seams, all of which require precise inspection of 3-D images.

An analysis providing manufacturers, end users, and other industry participants with an overview, summary, challenges, and latest coverage of advances in machine vision systems, is available by sending an e-mail to Magdalena Oberland atmagdalena.oberland@frost.com containing your name, company, title, contact telephone and fax number, e-mail address, and source of information. Upon receipt, an overview will be e-mailed to you.

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