Kathryn Tomiello is a Staff Editor, Design World
Low cost photoelectric sensors are inadequate for many automated optics-based inspection applications. To meet the need for more detailed inspections,
manufacturers introduced multicomponent, PC-based vision systems that capture still images and convert them into digital data. This information is used for assembly verification, gage and dimensional measurements, feedback control and machine guidance; as well as to automate inspection decisions and to determine part location. These systems are too complex to justify their high cost for many applications.
So the industry responded with compact vision systems. Designers reduced the number of components required to implement inspection. With compact vision systems, an embedded controller on a single device acquires and processes images from multiple cameras. The systems can be integrated into existing systems, communicating with PLCs, relays, and other controller-based vision systems.
While compact vision systems have their niche, the marketplace continued to demand a technology that bridged the gap between simple, low-cost sensors and complex, pricey PC-based systems. Many manufacturers wanted an easy-to-use, all-in-one vision device that had the specifications of a high-end vision system.As Matt Slaughter, Product Marketing Engineer, National Instruments, said, “People like things to be nice and simple. Smart sensors meet this need.”
The NI 1722 and NI 1742 Smart Cameras are embedded devices that combine an industrial controller with an image sensor for image processing directly on the camera. “They can be used for full-fledged barcode reading,optical character code recognition, edge detection, and everything you can do with a high-end PC-based system. The question is, how fast do you need them to operate?” continued Slaughter.
NI’s Smart Cameras run on all of the company’s platforms. “You can go with Vision Builder AI for automated inspec-tion if you don’t want to program,” said Slaughter. With this menu-driven software, engineers can build complex machine vision applications incorporating not only vision algorithms but also state-based execution with looping and branching using the built-in state diagram
editor. “And if you do want to program, you can use LabVIEW,” added Slaughter.
As smart cameras provide a lower cost option to fully inspect products, they will
become a critical tool in control applications. “Many people don’t realize this
technology is out there. Now they can implement more high-end machine vision at a low cost,” said Slaughter. If you’re currently using manual inspection for barcode verification or to check for dings or scratches on boxes because today’s
machine vision systems and low cost vision sensors do not suit your application,
consider a smart camera. “It is a good and easy-to-use option.”
Filed Under: Material handling • converting, Vision • machine vision • cameras + lenses • frame grabbers • optical filters
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