Product roundup of machine vision systems

Senior Technical Editor Rich Merritt surveyed all the usual suspects in the machine vision industry and found that builders are looking to employ general-purpose COTS systems as the industry recovery continues.

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By Rich Merritt, Senior Technical Editor

After 911, the vision system market took a nosedive from which it is just starting to recover. Sales plunged 15% in 2002, according to the annual study by the Automated Imaging Assn. (AIA). the AIA’s latest study says the North American market increased 4% in 2003 to $1.6 billion. The world machine vision market is estimated at $6.6 billion, a gain of nearly 14% from 2002, fueled by increased use of machine vision in the Pacific Rim, especially Japan and China.


"Our new study provides further evidence that the downturn in capital equipment spending on machine vision ended in 2003," says Jeffrey Burnstein, executive director of AIA. "More than 80% of the machine vision companies participating in our study expect their sales to post further gains in 2004.”

At the recent Vision Show East in Boston, attendance was about 2,600, with 100 exhibitors. A study of show attendees showed that 54% plan to buy cameras and 44% plan to buy complete systems.

ARC Advisory Group predicts that OEMs who once designed their own vision systems now prefer using general-purpose machines, especially in North America. ARC says that internally developed, leading-edge machine vision systems no longer make good business sense. Looks like COTS (commercial off the shelf) systems will become the standard for machine builders in the future.

With the North American market essentially flat for nearly two years, it’s no wonder that new product development ground to a halt. Although we surveyed all the usual suspects in the machine vision business, only nine vendors offered up new products for our vision roundup, and several appeared to be general-purpose COTS devices.

Another interesting trend we see among new vision products is the technology’s continuing march toward standalone operation. Several of the vision systems can operate without external support; that is, once you have performed the proper configuration and instructions, they operate as a standalone device that can perform monitoring, part inspection, defect detection, and a host of other vision tasks at blinding speed, with no assistance needed from external processors, vision boards or PCs.

Software tools are improving as well, making it much easier to teach and configure the vision systems.

Machine Vision Systems
For more information about any of these products, click on the description of the product below to view all contact information, including phone numbers, e-mail addresses, web sites, and a photo where available.

Commanding Presence
PresencePlus P4 GEO vision sensor inspects for correct features regardless of product orientation or position in the sensor's field of view. A remote TEACH feature allows the sensor to learn new features it will need to inspect for without connecting to a PC or shutting down the line. The sensor can interface to machines and factory networks via its built-in 10/100 Ethernet connection, RS-232 or discrete input/outputs. Banner Engineering

Vision System Runs at High Speeds
The F210 vision sensor combines 1.4 msec image acquisition with algorithms for fast measurement and inspection operations, making it suitable for use in high-speed food and drug packaging, automotive assembly and part inspection applications. Algorithms include OCR/OCV to read and confirm lot codes on pill bottles; Edge Code for defect detection, position and location capability; and Fine Matching for detection of differences between a user-taught model and a live image, including fine defects on labels. Omron Electronics

Cameras Eschew CCU
The IK-53N and the IK-52N monochrome, 768x494 resolution, "ice-cube" machine vision cameras are 29-mm square, weigh 1.59 oz. and eliminate the need for a CCU. The IK-52N has a 1/2-in. CCD, while the IK-53N has a 1/3-in. CCD. Minimum subject illumination is 0.5 lux is IK-53N, and 0.4 lux for the IK-52N. Applications include test and inspection, laboratory, robotics, sorting/gauging, and component alignment and placement. Both are compatible with most standard frame grabbers, and can use a wide range of off-the-shelf, cost-effective C-mount lenses. Toshiba America Information Systems

Self-Contained Camera Comes With Software
The Impact T10 camera package includes a 1,000-MIPS processor, solid-state memory, optically-isolated I/O, serial interface, Ethernet connectivity, and a real-time operating system. Its built-in Inspection Builder software suite provides image processing tools, programming capabilities, inspection algorithms, and a complete set of HMI tools within a visual programming environment. Applications include automotive, electronics, medical device and character inspection. The tools allow users to create a turnkey inspection solutions with a real-time operator interface. PPT Vision

Analyzes Images Itself
The Iris P-Series programmable smart camera combines a vision sensor, PC processing and software. It has an ultra-low-power (ULP) Celeron processor and an embedded Intel processor, runs the Windows CE .NET real-time operating system, and is programmed using a version of Microsoft's Visual C++. OEMs and integrators can develop applications with the Matrox Imaging Library (MIL), which includes a function set for managing image capture, processing, analysis, display and archiving. Matrox Imaging

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