Three Benefits of Using 3D Vision

3D-L4000 camera and 3D point cloud of cast automotive components

Machine vision systems that provide 3D data, including height, width, and depth, have traditionally been expensive, complicated to install, and difficult to maintain. Even though these systems are calibrated at the factory to generate 3D data, they are hard to program and maintain while introducing additional eye safety concerns due to their laser light. 

A better system would integrate all the components needed for a 3D solution, including a sensor, laser, and powerful computer in a compact format. It would also use true 3D algorithms on 3D point clouds in an intuitive programming environment, rather than requiring designers to learn special code to apply 2D algorithms to 3D applications using less accurate surface maps. Thus, it would improve accuracy while reducing complexity, and be more capable and robust for a variety of installations. 

Enter the In-Sight 3D-L4000 machine vision system. With its breakthrough 3D vision technology and speckle-free blue laser illumination system, the In-Sight 3D-L4000 meets all these requirements and more in a smart camera format. It allows factory engineers to quickly, accurately, and cost-effectively solve a wide range of inspection challenges on an automated production line. 

Compact, Powerful 3D Solution

The In-Sight 3D-L4000 offers the compact form factor of a smart camera while delivering the power of an FPGA-accelerated, 8-core Intel processor. With a 2K linear sensor calibrated to the patented speckle-free blue laser optics, the In-Sight 3D-L4000 has the ability to simultaneously capture high-resolution 3D point clouds for measurements and high-resolution 2D images for secondary 2D-quality inspections and product tracking. 

In addition to its IP65 housing, which makes it ready for industrial installations, the In-Sight 3D-L4000’s unique speckle-free laser means that customers can confidently install the device below conveyors. The system will operate at maximum resolution and speed, even if up to 50% of the laser window is blocked by debris. This makes the In-Sight 3D-L4000 the first 3D vision solution that can be mounted upside down without concerns that random, airborne debris will block the laser and adversely affect operation.

21-032 Speckle Gif

Blue speckle-free laser line (left) and red laser with speckle (right)

Speckle-Free Laser Ensures Safety and Accuracy

In addition to hardening the 3D camera against debris and contamination, the patented speckle-free blue laser optical system in the In-Sight 3D-L4000 captures higher quality images than traditional laser displacement sensors. The shorter blue wavelength and the unprecedented sharpness of the speckle-free laser line combine to provide more accurate 3D point clouds, meaning more accurate quality assurance systems.

In-Sight 3D-L4000 inspects casted auto component with speckle-free laser line

In-Sight 3D-L4000 inspects casted automotive component with speckle-free laser line

The unique 3D scan engine also delivers more light to the inspection surface and is safer than any other competing 3D laser scanner solution. Competing solutions are classified as 3B or 3R devices, while the In-Sight 3D-L4000 is a 2M laser device, which significantly reduces the safeguards needed to install the system on a production line. More optical power means that the In-Sight 3D-L4000 can run at higher frequencies — up to 4 kHz. When coupled with the FPGA-accelerated 8-core onboard processor, the In-Sight 3D-L4000 not only generates high-resolution 3D point clouds but also creates 2D grayscale images for label validation, OCR, code reading, and more applications.

Intuitive Software Designed Just for 3D

To fully deliver on the promise of the most accurate 3D smart camera, Cognex engineers rebuilt their most popular algorithms from the ground up. This enabled them to take full advantage of the 3D point cloud approach versus the more common height map approach used by competitors.

2D height map and 3D point cloud comparison

2.5D height map (left) and 3D point cloud (right)

Programmed in In-Sight’s intuitive spreadsheet environment, the In-Sight 3D-L4000 includes all the traditional 3D measurement tools users expect, such as plane and height finding. However, it also comes with a full set of 3D vision tools, designed to leverage inspections in a true 3D space. Unlike typical 3D systems, which transform 3D images into representational 2D height maps for basic tool processing, the In-Sight 3D-L4000 allows users to place vision tools directly on true 3D images of parts. True 3D inspections increase accuracy and expand the types of inspections that can be performed. Better yet, because   inspections are in 3D, users can immediately experience how the vision tools operate on an actual part. The In-Sight 3D-L4000 now offers multiple dedicated 3D algorithms, including Blob3D, PatMax 3D, Edge3D, ExtractSphere 3D, ExtractCylinder 3D, and others.

From its compact form to its speckle-free laser and intuitive In-Sight spreadsheet interface, the In-Sight 3D-L4000 is designed to help customers quickly and easily set up and run 3D applications. The system simplifies application development and streamlines factory integration with a full I/O and communications function set. It also combines 2D and 3D vision tools in the same application, leading to quicker deployments.

Isabel Pagliaccio

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