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3D vision made easy for all

31 March 2017

From its earliest beginnings, 3D Vision has been the domain of a privileged few. It required specialist programming expertise to take the raw data output and configure it for different factory control networks. In turn, huge amounts of processing power and bulky equipment were needed – not to mention hard cash

Now, finally, with advances in embedded, smart technologies, 3D is available to many.  3D Vision has been ’democratised’ and intelligent sensors have evolved to offer easier, all-in-one vision solutions. Engineers, machine builders and integrators have new options to configure and commission 3D vision quickly, simply and cost-effectively, as well as to interpret and optimise the output data.

Intelligent processing power can be packed into ever-smaller devices

Intelligent processing power can be packed into ever-smaller devices, combining this with IO-link enabled communications to make them ‘Smart’.

Out-of-the-box

An important step forward has been the development of an entry-level ‘plug-and-play’ 3D vision sensor that combines smart camera technology and processing software to deliver real-time quality inspection in a self-contained unit.

The new SICK TriSpector 1000 can be set up without the need to write bespoke programs, yet it has all the functionality needed for quality control inspection under high-speed industrial conditions.  So, it can check presence, position, labels, contents and absence, dimensioning and height, orientation and fill levels, and is tolerant of product positioning on the conveying line.

Imaging Spectrum

So, imaging devices now span the whole spectrum from 1D, 2D and 3D, offering scalable and affordable solutions to suit each application.  Several capabilities can be combined in one system: for example, a single device can read a barcode and an alpha numeric code, as well as verifying the readability of the label on a pharmaceutical or food product (SICK Lector 620 OCR); or the 3D profiling and 2D colour contrast scanning to perform several inspection functions in parallel with a single smart camera (Sick ColorRanger with Multiscan.)

Examples

Deodorant containers are mass produced in a wide range of colours and configurations, before being shipped to international destinations for local filling. Despite the packaging lines herding the containers a metre abreast to the bulk shipping packs, the SICK IVC-3D Smart Vision uses its advanced algorithms to check for damage and verify that the right number and can type is being packed for each destination.

In vehicle production, a range of fastening technologies is used for speed, strength and value, including high strength adhesives. Inspection of such robot-applied adhesives must ensure the high quality application of difficult-to-see coatings. To overcome this, the SICK PIM60 LUT with UV LED illumination and sensing allows fluorescent components of the adhesive to be detected and inspected for evenness and location.

Fish processing on a trawler may seem an unlikely application for robotics, but a profitable portion preparation line depends on achieving minimum waste and optimum quality from a variable raw material. Using the SICK ColorRanger on board allows cuts of fish for freezing to be 3D assessed for height and 2D scanned for contrast at the same time, delivering the best yields and fish quality achievable.

Global brands such as chewing gum depend on consumer confidence, so maintaining exactly the same dimensions to ensure that the product made in one continent appears identical to any other is a critical factor. An IVC-3D Smart Camera ensures the quality is maintained as well as identifying pack position for pick and place packaging operations, combining two essential operations in one instrument.

Vision Continuum

The developments in ‘easy’ 3D Vision do not mean that we have arrived at “one size fits all”. Instead, from high-performance cameras, advanced colour, 3D measurement and multi-scanning technology through to stand-alone programmable sensors, we have reached a continuum.

As a result, we are no longer left wondering if 3D is accessible and affordable, but which is the right choice for the task in hand and how to get the best combination of value and performance.

Key Points

  • Imaging devices now span the whole spectrum from 1D, 2D and 3D, offering scalable and affordable solutions to suit each application
  • There are new options to configure and commission 3D vision quickly, simply and cost-effectively, as well as to interpret and optimise the output data
  • Development of an entry-level ‘plug-and-play’ 3D vision sensor delivers real-time quality inspection in a self-contained unit

 
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