3D surface defect inspection system


Precision sensor manufacturer Micro-Epsilon has introduced a new 3D non-contact surface inspection system for defect detection and for inspecting the aesthetic appearance of non-reflecting (matt, unpainted, plastic and bare metal) surfaces.

The new surfaceCONTROL system is a turnkey system that enables fast, reliable 100% surface inspection and can be integrated directly into processing/assembly lines or on robots. The system is based on the principles of deflectometry and fringe projection, which enable the smallest of surface defects (for example scratches, dents and bumps) to be recognised reliably and surface aesthetics such as form, shape and waviness to be inspected. Usually, the defects to be detected are smaller than the manufacturing tolerance of the part, making it a challenge for conventional computer-aided design (CAD)-based comparison measurement systems to detect them.

surfaceCONTROL is based on patented artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms, developed to detect and quantify the dimensions of surface defects, even to single microns, in an in-line industrial environment. Its measurement capability and ease of integration for both offline and in-line environments have opened up new opportunities for automated visual inspection, which is not possible with current industrial 3D vision technology. Applications are being solved in the aerospace and automotive industries and in the production of medical parts, domestic appliances, consumer electronics and hand-held devices.

The perceived quality of smooth, defect-free surfaces is determined by the look, feel, colour and shape consistency of the surface. High-quality finished surfaces are therefore a challenge for many industries. Although inspectors are able to recognise a high proportion of surface defects reliably and quickly, visual evaluation is often subjective and depends heavily on several factors, including levels of tiredness and concentration, as well as varying light conditions. The aim of surface inspection is to achieve an objective, reproducible evaluation of surface deviations in order to quickly and reliably make decisions with respect to component tolerances.

surfaceCONTROL is designed for the inspection of diffuse surfaces such as metallic surfaces (for example uncoated, electroplated and electrophoretic deposition (EPD)), plastic surfaces and ceramics. The sensor, which is based on the fringe projection principle, scans the surface and generates a 3D point cloud. This point cloud is subsequently evaluated using specially developed tools in order to recognise extremely small defects and discontinuities on the surface. Sensors with different measuring ranges, areas and resolutions are available to suit any application.