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The Increasing Trend For Optical Metrology To Oversee Smart Manufacturing

Optical metrology is the field of measurement science that deals with the use of light for measuring and characterizing different physical quantities. Optical Metrology has become an indispensable tool in many industries, including general manufacturing, aerospace, automotive, and medical industries. Within the field of optical metrology, two popular techniques for measuring objects are structured light scanning and machine vision based application-driven solutions.

Structured light scanning is a 3D scanning technique that involves projecting a patterned light onto an object and capturing the reflected light with a camera. The pattern of light is structured in a specific way, which enables the measurement of the object’s shape and size. This method is often used in industrial applications for quality control and inspection, reverse engineering, and rapid prototyping. One significant advantage of structured light scanning is its ability to capture complex geometries, such as free-form surfaces, with high accuracy and speed. Additionally, this technique is non-contact and non-destructive, which also makes it suitable for measuring delicate or sensitive objects.

Structured light inspection of stamped automotive part

Machine vision based application-driven solutions, on the other hand, involve the use of cameras and computer algorithms to analyze and interpret images for specific applications. This technique can be used to inspect and measure objects, recognize patterns, and classify or sort objects based on specific characteristics. Machine vision-based solutions are extensively used in volume manufacturing, robotics for quality control, defect detection, and process automation. One significant advantage of this technique is its ability to perform measurements in real-time.

Applications of optical metrology are diverse, and their potential impact is significant. For example, in the aerospace industry, optical metrology is used to inspect and measure the geometry of aircraft components, which helps ensure the safety and reliability of the aircraft. In the automotive industry, optical metrology is used to measure the shape and size of vehicle parts, to ensure that they fit together correctly and function properly as an assembly including gaps and flushness.

Role of AI in Machine Vision Defect Inspection

Machine vision sensor integrated with industrial robot

Artificial Intelligence (AI) plays a crucial role in machine vision defect inspection during the manufacturing process. AI algorithms can be trained using large datasets of images that contain various types of defects. These algorithms can then identify defects in new images with a high level of accuracy, even in complex and varied images. AI algorithms can detect and identify defects with a higher level of accuracy and faster than human inspectors. AI algorithms can be programmed to follow consistent and objective criteria for defect detection reduces the risk of human error and ensuring that defects are detected consistently across different batches of products.

Structured light scanning and machine vision based application-driven solutions have become popular techniques for measuring parts and assemblies offering high accuracy, speed, and non-destructive capabilities. As technology continues to advance, the potential applications of optical metrology are limitless, and its impact as a quality control and process control solution continues to grow with the advent of smart manufacturing.

Integration of Industrial Robots With Optical Metrology Sensors

Structured light scanner integrated with collaborative robot

Industrial robots have become an increasingly popular tool for applying optical metrology sensors in manufacturing, with their role expanding to include not only quality control and inspection but also process control of the entire production process. The use of robots integrated with optical sensors is revolutionizing manufacturing industry by increasing efficiency, accuracy and productivity while reducing labor costs. One of the main advantages of using robots in optical metrology is their ability to work continuously without fatigue or errors, which makes them ideal for repetitive tasks that require high precision and accuracy. This reduces the risk of human error and ensures consistent quality in the manufacturing process.

Optical metrology generated data-sets, when integrated with CAD data, allows for the automated creation of digital twins. For example, robots can scan a complete part and compare it directly to its digital CAD model to ensure that it meets the required specifications. Robots integrated with optical metrology sensors also have the ability to adapt rapidly to changes in the production process, such as new parts or design changes.

Optical Metrology – The Overseer of Smart Manufacturing

Data sets derived from optical metrology sensors can be superimposed onto CAD models to represent deviations from nominal – digital twin. Image courtesy of Innovmentric

Optical metrology plays a crucial role in overseeing smart manufacturing by allowing the collection of data in real-time to gain insight into the performance and quality of manufacturing processes. In smart manufacturing, this type of data is essential for maintaining high levels of efficiency and quality control. By using optical metrology tools, manufacturers can identify and correct defects or other issues as they occur, reducing waste and minimizing the need for manual inspection.

Moreover, optical metrology can be used to implement closed-loop control systems, where measurements of a product’s dimensions or other features are used to adjust manufacturing processes in real-time helping to optimize the manufacturing process, improve product quality, and reduce defects.

Optical metrology has become a powerful tool for overseeing smart manufacturing processes and ensuring that they are operating at peak efficiency. As manufacturing industry continues to embrace the principles of Industry 4.0 and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), we can expect to see an increasing reliance on optical metrology alongside other technologies to support these efforts.