Machine vision systems are used for automated inspection and measurement in production environments. They are an integrated camera, image capture, processing, storage, analysis and control system for automated inspection and measurement in production environments. Common configurations for machine vision systems include embedded or vision engine, modular or PC based, and turnkey or complete system. Embedded systems or vision engines are typically applied where a high-end system is required with one to several processors in a VME, CompactPCI or other form factors. Modular or PC based machine vision systems have integration of complete, highly flexible vision systems from a selection of compatible modules such as cameras/imagers, lenses, computers/processors, frame grabber boards, image processing boards, image analysis software or illuminators. With modular systems, the engineer or system integrator selects or configures the components to produce a product tailored to meet the application's requirements. Turnkey systems are complete, off-the-shelve (COTS) vision systems with all of the required components to provide an application ready product. The unit does not require additional hardware such as a computer or cameras. The turnkey systems are complete with all of the required components to provide an application ready product.
Important specifications to consider when searching for machine vision systems include inspection rate, product speed, number of cameras or imagers processed, processor speed, and data storage. Inspection rate is the number of images or parts that can be imaged or imaged & processed per unit time. Units used are inspections per minute or cycles per second. Product speed represents the presentation of the part to the camera or scanning speed across a product. Zero would indicate a stationary part during imaging. The number of cameras or imagers processed is the number of cameras or image sources the machine vision system can handle. The processor speed is the operating speed of the host or dedicated imaging processor. Data storage indicates the available hard drive, disc or tape storage area for raw or processed images or video.
Common applications for machine vision systems include alignment or guidance, assembly quality, bar or matrix code, biotechnology or medical, color mark or color recognition, container or product counting, edge detection, electronics or semiconductor inspection, electronics rework, flaw detection, food and beverage, gauging, scanning and dimensioning, ID detection or verification, materials analysis, non-contact profilometry, optical character recognition, parcel or baggage sorting, pattern recognition, pharmaceutical packaging, presence or absence, production and quality control, seal integrity, security and biometrics, tool and die monitoring, and web inspection. A variety of image sources, smart image sensors or cameras can be integrated into a machine vision system to collect the required, visual information. Specific image sources for machine visions systems can be area scan cameras, line scan cameras, high speed or brightness, thermal or infrared, multi-spectral, optical microscopes, x-ray, UV or fluorescence, confocal laser, electron microscope, ultrasonic or acoustic, and magnetic imaging.
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