Annual round-up of machine vision products

Study findings reveal that if the industrial marketplace keeps its footing, the North American machine vision market for application-specific systems looks to be on solid ground.

By Rick Pedraza, Digital Managing Editor, and Joe Feeley, Editor

NEW DATA on the North American machine vision market surmises that 2004 was a strong recovery year for machine vision adoption, and robust growth is afoot in 2005 and beyond. A newly released annual market study, Machine Vision Markets: 2004 Results and Forecasts to 2009, from the Automated Imaging Assn. (AIA), says the worldwide machine vision market stood at approximately $8.1 billion ending 2004, with the North American contribution pegged at approximately $1.9 billion.

The end user market is predicted to grow from approximately $1.4 billion (without value added by OEMs and system integrators) in 2004 to $2.7 billion in 2009. The components market for optics, lighting and cameras is forecast to grow from $181.4 million in 2004 to $417.6 million in 2009. 

Study findings reveal that application-specific machine vision (ASMV) system builders are dominant over other types of market participants. In the components market, the dominant products are embedded vision processors and vision processors based on revenue, while lighting and optics lead the pack in units sold.

The study does point out reasons to be cautiously, not wildly, optimistic. Machine vision equipment sales are clearly linked to business level fluctuations, so any dampening factors on current industrial activity will slow the growth in machine vision sales.

Paul Kellett, director of market analysis for AIA, further polled some of its members to get a sense of future technology issues. The views he found were varied, but most suggested that, other than some feeling that IEEE 1394 and Gigabit Ethernet will become connectivity favorites, the vision system technology out there today will be the dominant platform for the near-term. 

The continuing evolution and sophistication of smart camera applications should grow, particularly as prices continue to drop.

Product Roundup:
Machine Vision Systems and Components

Vision System Data Over Ethernet
Omron Electronics
The F210-ETN Ethernet vision sensor controller has onboard storage for compressed inspection images that can be streamed via Ethernet to remote storage without interfering with production. The controller features parallel processors for measurement and communication functions; the sensor uses digital cameras to capture higher resolution images with minimal noise interference to allow timely adjustment of inspection conditions during setup while producing an ongoing history of performance quality.

Quality Eye for the Vision Guy
Value Engineering Alliance
PQEye vision system can be used for high and low-end applications. The compact (50x50x170 mm, including lens), smart camera-based instrument addresses narrow web print inspection tasks or checks position, correctness and quality of text and graphics machine-printed on discrete parts. PC-free, the setup, training and test procedures are done via multifunction keypad and graphical interface that displays on standard SVGA monitors.

Attack of the Anaconda
Dalsa Coreco
Anaconda vision processor employs real-time image acquisition, processing, and analysis. PCI-X compliant, the system is suited for embedded applications where a large amount of image processing is required, such as in semiconductor wafer inspection, and where host resources are at capacity or unavailable. The system combines high-speed image acquisition with a fully configurable field programmable gate array (FPGA) and user-programmable PowerPC.

Streamlining Unleashed
ISRA Vision Systems
Easi3D and Mono3D vision systems determine all six degrees of freedom (position and orientation) of 3-D objects from one captured image with one camera. Easi3D determines the correct spatial position of the component with precision to 0.1 mm. Mono3D sensor mounted on a robot arm can inspect during removal of parts from a container or unloading at high speeds. Values are saved in a system database; extensive statistics allow for precise process analyses.

Go Configure
National Instruments
Vision Builder AI 2.6 software is the latest upgrade for configuring, benchmarking and deploying complete machine vision applications without programming. Engineers use ActiveX to communicate with vision scripts, to customize user interfaces, access acquired images and communicate inspection results in Visual Basic, LabView and TestStand test management software. The software includes new algorithms, including color measurements, geometric matching and object classification.

No Need to Retrain
ProofRead optical character verification (OCV) system has an intuitive graphical interface for configuring vision tasks, cameras, and I/O. Operators can view images, review results and statistics, and perform product changeover. The system has built-in security, change tracking, logging capability, and is compliant with FDA 21 CFR Part 11. It reads 2-D matrix codes, RSS, 1-D bar codes, and is available in a board-level configuration for OEMs and system integrators, a ProofRead system including a PC, or a packaged system with PC and stainless steel enclosure.

Morph the Capturer
Matrox Imaging
Morphis capture board for PC/104-Plus has dual-video-decoder architecture and a real-time JPEG2000 compression/decompression engine. The board supports channel switching between multiple video inputs, captures from NTSC, PAL, RS-170 and CCIR video sources, and supports simultaneous acquisition of two live video streams. The scalable design permits users to connect and switch between a maximum of 16 CVBS, 8 luminance/chrominance (Y/C) or a combination of inputs.

Photos With Impact
PPT Vision
Impact T23 intelligent color camera acquires and analyzes color images in real time and rejects products outside a preset color range. It can be used for color-based sorting, color code verification, and paint defect detection. The camera has a single-software platform with color image-processing algorithms and a broad range of gray scale algorithms, which allows the camera to be used for color and grayscale analysis simultaneously. 

Double Vision
CV-2600 high-speed machine vision system has a 2 mega-pixel CCD built into the camera’s housing (1620x1220). The controller supports two cameras, and sensitivity is adjustable in 81 increments. The system features inspection tools for area, pattern search, multiple search, edge angle, edge width, number of edges/pitch, stain, blob, intensity, trend edge position, and trend edge width. On-screen programming menus guide users through setup.

Camera-Ready Connectivity
iPort PT1000-VB allows Gigabit Ethernet connectivity into almost any camera by changing out the back-end interface electronics. The camera engine acquires image data from a camera head, packetizes and queues it for transfer to PCs over standard GigE links or LANs. The board also transfers control signals from the GigE link to the camera head. Latency between camera and PC can be as low as 200 µsec.

A Clearer View
OCP Group
ClearVu high-speed camera link cables are compatible and tested to the Camera Link standard. Twisted pairs are individually shielded and optimized for signal transmission performance and high flexibility. Cables are offered in either over-molded construction with 4-40 anodized thumbscrews, or with a positive latch-and-lock system.

Packed With Features
JAI Pulnix
CV-M7+ color megapixel machine vision camera features a Sony ICX285AQ imager, 1392x1040 resolution, 6.45 µm square pixels, and extended IR sensitivity. Based on 10-bit A/D technology via Camera Link, the camera uses proprietary sample-and-hold and correlated double sampling (CDS) techniques to achieve double-speed readout without trade-offs in dynamic range or image fidelity. An LVDS version is available with 8-bit video output.

Legend in Its Time
Legend LS line-scan camera uses a DSP to acquire high-resolution, high-speed image of a moving object line-by-line at a rate of up to 18,000 lines/sec. The scanner accommodates acquisitions up to 8190x2048 pixels, generates a continuous web-inspection stream of scan lines rather than discrete video frames, and has the ability to unwrap cylindrical objects for label or surface inspection on a flat plane.

Put on the Brakes
Sick Sensors
V 4000 press brake system uses vision-based technology for point-of-operation safeguarding. The system mounts on the upper beam of the brake to watch the downward movement of the punch, creating a safety volume below the die that is constantly monitored for intrusion. Output provides a signal to switch off the machine as soon as an intruding object is detected. It can be integrated into the machine's HMI, and is rated Category 4 in compliance with EN 954-1 and SIL 3, according to EN 61508.