Machine Vision Resource Guide from Control Engineering

Machine vision resource guide: feature articles, application notes, case studies, tutorials, and research on machine vision technologies and related productivity. Updated May 10, 2013, with new articles, now more than 50 in all.

By Control Engineering May 10, 2013

Update: See additional machine vision links and resources added below, on May 10, 2013.

Articles from Control Engineering show how machine vision technologies help with process automation, increases productivity, improves quality, and lowers costs, in packaging, pharmaceutical, food and beverage, high-speed discrete manufacturing, web-based lines, and other applications.

See also other links of Control Engineering machine vision feature articles, tutorials, and research.

Machine vision speed, quality, innovation

Advanced applications for machine vision in automotive, robotics, quality, and safety use hybrid technologies, vision for robotic or machine guidance and in-line part inspection, and 3D imaging. Technology and imaging standard advances help. May 2013 article series – Control Engineering North American print and digital edition.

Quality control measurements for smooth surfaces

Hybrid laser-camera technology is ideal for surface measurement in many industries. The camera detects a laser projected onto an object at a specific angle.

Next generation: Robots that see

Visual servo control: Vision used for robotic or machine guidance also can be used for in-line part inspection to enhance product quality with traditional feedback systems. See online video.

3D vision system performs rope wear analysis

Three-dimensional (3D) imaging can be used to verify rope and cable quality to measure pitch length and diameter, and identify rope surface damage and type of wear, with accuracy surpassing current methods, to enhance safety. See photos.

Advances in machine vision products, standards

Recent new products and standards advances include FDA traceability, higher speed, and connectivity and integration standards.

Vision integration speeds production, cuts waste for plastics manufacturer

Automation Integrator Guide: New vision system simplifies product inspection for a more efficient manufacturing process.

Asia Pacific market for machine vision is changing

Projections indicate the Asia Pacific market (excluding Japan) will pass EMEA revenues in the machine vision market by 2015.

Machine vision, ID-reader network integration

Integrate Ethernet-based machine vision and image-based ID readers into factory networks for more direct communications and less expense. See photos, examples.

Machine vision: high-speed, long-distance communications

CoaXPress (CXP) is a high-speed point-to-point serial communication standard for the transmission of video data, scalable over single or multiple coaxial cables. It has a high-speed downlink of up to 6.25Gb/S per cable for video, images, and data, plus a lower speed, 20Mb/S uplink for communications and control.

Video: Machine vision-motion system draws a line on quality

Pencil production via National Instruments shows synchronized integration of machine vision and motion systems.

Active vision system for 3D product inspection

Learn how to construct three-dimensional vision applications by reviewing the measurements procedures.

Machine vision cuts PV module assembly time

Photovoltaic (PV) assembly is among industries benefitting from a machine-vision enhanced automated soldering system from Mondragon Assembly, to shorten cycle times, ensure consistently high product quality, and enhance equipment usability.

Machine vision technologies for photovoltaic soldering

A photovoltaic assembly soldering machine uses machine vision to improve quality and throughput. Machine vision technologies include Cognex In-Sight 5100 intelligent vision system to optimize the process of soldering the cross-links between photovoltaic modules. See related application article.

Machine vision: Focus on design

A well-designed machine vision system enables manufacturers to improve product quality, enhance process control, and increase manufacturing efficiency while lowering the total cost of ownership. A good machine vision design starts with selecting a motion-vision integration type, based on the machine’s automation tasks.

Vision-Guided Robots Automate Oil Tool Assembly

Machine vision locates parts for picking by one robot and checks the diameter and location of the pipe before it is threaded by a second robot, without fixturing or accurate locating. The application may lead to a new generation of vision-enabled robots to improve productivity and quality for oil tools.

Technology checklist for oil tool automated assembly

A machine vision robotic assembly application for an oil tool industry manufacturer used the following technologies. See related application article.

Build better machines with machine vision

Cost-effective, high-performance machine vision tools help machine builders increase accuracy and throughput on a new machine design using four cameras, one controller, and high-speed communications.


Sponsored content: Machine Vision for Factory Automation eGuide  


Vision sensing technology in track-and-trace applications – Sensors work with control systems to follow perishable and critical products through manufacturing and distribution.

Accreditation for WPI, first U.S. robotics engineering undergraduate degree program – Four years after the program’s launch, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) said it is the only university in the nation with bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs in robotics engineering.

Technology Update: Computer vision systems get help from board-level systems – PCI Express (PCIe) has multiple gigabits/second of bandwidth and deterministic behavior, well suited for use with a computer vision system frame-grabber; it can capture high-resolution and high-frame-rate image streams for more effective machine vision applications. See table, graphics.

Machine vision growth continues – IMS Research analyst John Morse believes machine vision is going to grow up to 10% in 2011, continuing a double-digit trend.

Embedded Vision Alliance promotes computer vision – Technology companies form the Embedded Vision Alliance to help engineers add computer vision capabilities to their products, with standards and other information, which could help machine vision efforts.

Integrator Update: Robotic controls double throughput – Concept Systems resolves coffee roaster infeed problems, doubles throughput with new robotic controls, 3D vision, and application-specific effectors.

Back to Basics: Selecting sensors, machine vision – Ask these questions as a starting point when considering a detection, inspection, or measurement solution using sensors, a smart camera, or a more sophisticated machine vision system. See checklist.

Choosing between machine vision or sensors – To determine whether discrete or vision sensors will be the most robust and cost-effective way to error proof a parts production, look at the level of complexity in the sensing required. See photo gallery and checklist: 8 ways to choose between machine vision or sensors.

Machine vision market soared 54% in North America in 2010 – Sales of machine vision components and systems in North America soared 54% in 2010 to nearly $1.8 billion, according to figures released by the AIA.

Vision system cuts downtime, improves inspection productivity 60% – Royal Canadian Mint uses a machine vision system to improve inspection productivity from 25,000 to 40,000 rolls per shift, cut downtime, and reduce manual tasks.

Machine Vision ROI at Polaris Industries – Vision system reduces scrap in high-mix welding environment and paid for itself in 2 weeks, according to return on investment calculations. See images, table.

– Inside Machines: Embedded Machine Vision Systems, an Alternative to PC Vision Systems – Today’s embedded machine vision systems can help keep manufacturing operations fast and accurate, for pharmaceutical packaging, food inspection, part stamping, and other applications, faster than 200 images per second.

– Inside Machines: Packaging Line Vision System Gets Speed BoostAdding an RTOS to run alongside Microsoft Windows allows machine vision inspection system to process faster while keeping advantages of graphical user interface (GUI).

– Machine vision standards play increasingly important role – In adoption of technology, machine vision standard plays increasingly important role in machine vision implementations, experts say.

– How can robots get our attention? Machine vision can help. Research helps robots function more in tune with human coworkers by picking up on nonverbal cues: Georgia Institute of Technology. Smarter software and machine vision could make industrial robots safer and more efficient.

– Image-based readers surpass laser scanner in code-reading ability, said Cognex – 1D and 2D codes can be obscured and difficult to read in many applications, because of size, quality, printing method, or environment. Because of higher accuracy, image-based readers are rapidly replacing laser scanners in a wide range of manufacturing and logistics applications, Cognex said.

Machine Vision – Inside Machines: June-July 2010 Control Engineering

How to inspect closures with machine vision
An explanation of the “template” and “features” methods of closure inspection and the role of vision systems in automating the process.

Integrating multiple viewing techniques
Combining 2D and 3D sensing in one package simplifies integration and
improves productivity

Automated inspection made easy
An automotive part supplier implemented a very low cost inspection system by using just one camera to perform three functions.

3D machine vision improves quality control
Measuring the three-dimensional shape and color of an object, more reliable decisions can be made during the inspection and production of parts, improving quality.

Oct. 11, 2010, additions to this machine vision resource guide follow.

– Inside Machines: Pinpoint Inspection Precision via Machine Vision – An electronics components manufacturer uses machine vision to achieve 100% inspection of interconnect pins, improving quality control and eliminating costly product returns.

– Technology Update: Machine vision can ensure reliable, repeatable bar code inspection – When applied for bar code reading (BCR), a vision system can ensure each product on a packaging line contains the proper bar code—which in turn contains the proper product identification and manufacturing location data. UPC symbols, for instance, include five digits of data about the product manufacturer and five digits about the specific product. Here’s how it works.

Inside Machines: Vision-guided robots automate vial, syringe filling – Pharmaceutical filling equipment adapts to drug container shapes and sizes so short runs can be processed with minimal downtime. Automated Systems of Tacoma Inc. (AST) has developed a new vision-enabled flexible robotic filling system that can handle a wide range of container types and sizes, and can be switched from one size or type to another in about 30 minutes. A Cognex In-Sight Micro vision system is used to precisely locate each container and stopper and provide the robots these locations prior to processing.

Application Update: Machine vision saves fruit, by better sizing and sorting – More than 30% of fruits and vegetables are discarded before the grocery store; machine vision used in MAF Roda Agrobotic systems can help reduce waste. Images are processed using the Matrox Imaging Library (MIL) toolkit. The sorting system’s intuitive user interface and 3D display gives operators adjust quality and sorting parameters in real-time.

Video clip: On target machine vision, motion control demo makes novice marksman an expert – Using machine vision, logic, and 2 axis motion control, the target moves rapidly to meet the foam dart every time, even in rapid-fire mode, according to National Instruments at NIWeek 2010.

Video: Warping a telescope lens to match atmospheric distortion – NIWeek demo simulates atmospheric distortion collecting 500 high-resolution frames per second through machine vision, into an FPGA into four rack-mounted controllers that instruct more than 1,000 actuators how to change a 42 meter diameter telescope lens in less than 2 milliseconds.

In addition, see other Control Engineering feature articles on machine vision.

415 Parts Seen: Machine Vision Guides Robot – The vibratory bowl conveyor provides an economical and reliable method of presenting small parts in a given orientation. However, a key weakness of the vibratory bowl feeder is its use of mechanical channels and guides to orient parts. This limits it to handling just one part or one family of similar parts.

Machine Vision Protects Pharmaceutical Packaging – Sophisticated machine vision and OCR system keeps a very close eye on pharmaceutical packaging and labeling processes to minimize risks to patients.

Italian packager finds robotic success with Wittenstein gearheads – Robot simplifies food industry product handling, partnership ensures quality. Combined planetary gearhead and ac servo motor reduces installation space more than 20%. See photos, related links.

Tutorial: What is the GigE Vision standard? – GigE Vision is a camera interface standard developed using the Gigabit Ethernet communication protocol. Here’s what it can do to improve your application. See photos.

Bottom line challenges? Machine vision reduces waste, improves quality – Machine vision and industrial identification solutions can improve the bottom line in manufacturing, according to Cognex. See images.

Zero defects: Vision system helps achieve zero defects – Mayer & Co. needed a vision system to detect whether a work piece has been inserted with the correct side facing upwards. The company found the solution using cameras from Cognex and support from Buxbaum Automation.

Machine vision product research: Positive attitudes, outlooks, new products – 2008 machine vision research results and advice from survey respondents, along with links to 16 machine vision products.

Machine Vision Comes of Age – Vision technology is taking its place as a major sensing technology. Control engineers are finding it can be an indispensable tool for gathering system status information that can feed automatically into control systems—especially when there is motion involved. As vision technology has matured, image sensors have grown into multi-megapixel resolution, while frame grabbers and eventually merged into….

How should control engineers use machine vision? – Machine vision systems have passed the point where the additional information they provide is worth the additional cost compared to point sensors.

On Track with Machine Vision for application examples – Want to increase inspection time by factor of 10, raise quality, lower costs, augment worker satisfaction, improve safety, and lower variability? Advanced machine vision technologies can help. Users, system integrators, and vision vendors have tracked these results: Get on track with benefits machine vision can bring to you.

Machine Vision: Now is the Time (Product Research article, products) – Envision this: Hardware and software that excludes rejects at high speed, guides robotics, and reads characters on parts and labels for error-free handling. Many subscribers are employing machine vision technologies for these and other purposes—many with success, some with setup challenges, according to the latest research from Control Engineering.

Machine Vision: Not Just for Metrology Anymore (robotics applications) – To many manufacturing engineers, machine vision (MV) on the factory floor is just a metrology tool. They’ve gotten used to applying machine vision to speed up inspection and gauging applications for quality control, especially for 100% inspection situations. What they haven’t come to grips with, yet, is something that electronic printed-circuit assembly engineers embraced years ago…

Measure Up with Machine Vision (tricks and tips, references, setup hints) – Vision systems help manufacturers improve quality and productivity by automating many part gauging and inspection tasks quickly, accurately, and with a high degree of repeatability. By generating valuable inspection data at each step of a manufacturing process vision systems also can help control engineers augment process diagnostics.

Sensors channel: New products on machine vision and other sensors.

Control Engineering Machine Vision Resource Guide,