Vision Lab

Vision Lab

An integral part of manufacturing, vision systems are useful in many laser applications, including marking, drilling, etching and engraving. Over half of our custom laser systems incorporate some vision element—all with varying levels of complexity.

At its most basic level, vision provides verification, guidance and location information for laser processes. Today’s technology—coupled with our expertise—has enabled us to integrate vision in more refined ways to increase your accuracy, repeatability and quality.

Pre-process: Identification and Guidance

Our vision systems identify and guide the laser’s function. The system retrieves a product’s data by scanning the attached travel documentation. Then, by quickly reading the barcode, it determines part identity, quantity, serial numbers and other process data. The vision system communicates this information to the laser’s control system so it can perform its function—all without manual intervention.

Our vision systems also locate a part within a set to ensure correct positioning. If not, the system aligns the process to the part’s location—allowing the laser to precisely cut, drill or mark the part. This data can also guide robots to pick up parts and place them within the laser field.

Post-process: Validation

After the laser performs its function, you may want to verify the results to ensure quality and accuracy. Vision systems provide validation in the following ways:

  • Pass/Fail verification—the system verifies the presence of a mark, hole or weld.
  • Dimension—the system ensures the dimensions and positioning of the mark, hole or weld are accurate.
  • Legibility—the system verifies the legibility and content of laser marked text and machine readable codes.
  • Compliance—vision systems verify the compliance of laser marked 2D matrices according to ECC 200 and ISO/IEC TR 29158 (AIM DPM) standards.

Vision Systems in High-speed Manufacturing Lines

The ability to validate a laser’s actions in real time is essential for high-speed manufacturing lines. Using our On-the-Fly laser processing technology, our vision systems monitor parts as they move through the manufacturing line without stopping.

For pharmaceutical tablet drilling machines, pre-processing vision ensures each tablet has the right orientation for drilling. If not, the automated system uses the vision system’s feedback to return the tablet to the previous step. After drilling, the vision system detects any faults while the tablet is on the conveyor line. If a tablet doesn’t meet the right specifications, it’s removed from the line.

This combination of automation, vision and laser accuracy has enabled us to create laser systems that accurately drill over 140,000 pharmaceutical tablets an hour.

Our Vision Capabilities

CMS Laser is a Cognex-Certified Vision Integrator. Our Vision Lab includes various Dataman and Insight cameras, as well as a full range of lenses and diode lights in different wavelengths. We combine this hardware with our extensive knowledge of Cognex software and vision algorithms to develop off-axis, robot and coaxial vision systems.

Our engineers have been developing and integrating vision systems into laser machines for more than two decades. We leverage this expertise to design the perfect laser system for your application—taking into account the following:

Cameras. We work with a variety of cameras and determine the best fit based on resolution, process speeds, available algorithms—and more. High-resolution cameras (greater than 1 megapixel) are ideal for processing finer details and tight tolerances within a larger field of view. Low-resolution cameras (less than 1 megapixel) require less processing time and computing power. They’re ideal when speed or cost take priority over accuracy.

Lighting. We can program a vision system’s lighting functions to have multiple configurations within the same system. We account for bright and dark fields, diffuse versus direct lighting, backlighting, colors—and more.

Optics. We can set up our cameras in different ways depending on your application. Common configurations include:

  • Off-axis direct view. The camera and laser point downward as the laser performs its function. This setup works well for conveyors.
  • Off-axis at an angle. While the laser points downward, the camera sits off to the side and at an angle—eliminating the need for motion between the laser and camera position. Due to the angle, the software corrects the distorted image using perspective calibration.
  • On-axis, or through the optics vision. We set up the camera system within the same lens as the laser. Though the field of view is small, this configuration is extremely fast and provides both high resolution and magnification.

3-D Vision Capabilities

Though most configurations involve one camera and a two-dimensional space, we can add a third axis by using multiple cameras or a stereo vision system. This 3-D configuration informs the system of a part’s exact dimensions—increasing the accuracy of part sorting processes. After a part is lased, 3-D vision systems can also validate the depth of an etch, engraving or hole.

Software Controls

Our software capabilities bring the cameras, lighting and optics together—improving the flexibility and versatility of your laser system. For example, we can program the software to control multiple lighting configurations and functions within the same system—enabling your laser system to process different parts. The software also optimizes vision recognition, verification and validation processes, including pattern finding, image enhancement, 1-D barcode or 2-D matrix data reading, binarizing and text data verification.

Learn More

Employing pre- and post-processing vision capabilities will enhance the accuracy of your manufacturing process—helping you avoid costly manufacturing errors and increasing product quality.

Are you wondering how to add a vision system to your laser application? Contact us today to discuss your needs and specifications.

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