Automation systems have benefited from machine vision systems for decades. Being able to “see” their environment on the production line has allowed for increased flexibility, reduced stoppages, and the ability to adapt to changing variables. But for most of their history, automation systems have lived in a 2D world. Now, 3D machine vision is ready to revolutionize the manufacturing process.
3D Machine Vision Improves on Existing Vision Technologies
Machine vision systems have come a long way since Electronic Sorting Machines first implemented automated food sorters to help sort foods in New Jersey. With only a single camera driving a system, decisions can only be made based on 2D data. Programmers had to create algorithms that worked around the lack of 3D information, kind of like what your brain does when you’re wearing an eyepatch.
Integrators are now building systems with 3D machine vision. One method uses multiple cameras. Similar to your binocular vision, simply adding another offset camera can help a machine detect the depth of what it’s observing. But systems integrators don’t need to stop there. By setting up multiple cameras in an environment, a complete 3D map can be created.
Another type of 3D machine vision uses a single camera and one or more laser displacement sensors. The displacement of the laser’s reflections can be measured by the sensor(s) and be used to map out a 3D environment. When combined with the visual image, the machine now knows the size, shape, and dimensions of the objects it’s seeing.
3D Machine Vision Streamlines Manufacturing
Robots do pretty well moving with three degrees of freedom with 2D vision. But 3D vision-enabled machines can move with six. This allows for more accuracy than ever. 3D vision lets robots pick, stack, and hold objects perfectly within 3D space. They can perform tasks like pulling parts from pallets, bins, or racks, with more efficient motions.
3D machine vision also gives robots more capabilities on the assembly line. Being able to understand the depth of a part that must be gripped and perceive how another automation tool will interact with that part allows for more complex movement without sacrificing speed. 3D vision can even be used to help robots understand how hard to grip a part to decrease damage and increase accuracy.
During the inspection stage, 3D vision helps identify flaws faster. And when working around humans, 3D vision boosts the safety of the environment while keeping robots running at full speed because they can better assess the risks. This is helping manufacturers to increase the productivity of their facilities and get a better ROI out of every square foot.
Are you ready to add another dimension to your machine vision system? Find the right camera from Phase 1 for your 3D machine vision project.