High speed imaging plays a critical role in successful meteorology, the science of measurement. Meteorology involves dimensional measurement of parts and components and is important in manufacturing situations where these items require tight tolerances and accurate dimensions to fit and operate properly.


 custom-camera-metrologyMeasuring at High Speed

When multiple, high-volume products are manufactured or even with production of fewer items that require tight tolerance and accurate dimensions, a non-contact, camera-based measurement approach is very appropriate. Cameras have proven to be an excellent methodology to insure dimensional compliance while keeping unit manufacturing costs down. High performance cameras are used for the accurate measurement that is needed with rapidly moving product and for manufacturing where contact with the measured item may not be advised or even possible for hand measurements.

Measurement challenges occur in many different product types and problems can manifest on different size and production speed scales. Just some examples of the industries that receive important benefits from meteorology include aviation, automotive, aerospace, ship-building, semiconductors, electronic component manufacturing, and even special cases with pharmaceutical companies. These wide-ranging industries all have a driving need to build exact products and/or insure high-speed production, but just about any industry can benefit from a solid camera-based measuring system.

As can be determined from the list of example industries listed above, the demands of meteorology systems can vary quite widely. Automated measuring systems are used for mass-produced micro-electronic systems, as well as component manufacturing, as with automobiles and airplanes. For large or small products, and for those in between, the imaging needs in meteorology can be demanding. Cameras offer an excellent approach to provide the convenience and dimensional accuracy that is not as possible by having individuals make hand measurements.

The Tools

Selecting the right camera is the key to having a true value-add meteorology system. Many of the camera variables to be considered in a purchase decision are similar to those used for other imaging applications: resolution, speed of image capture and processing, ease-of-use, and cost. In addition, meteorology considerations most always include cycle time between readings (parts production rate) and the measurement accuracy.  Some other factors can depend on the specific situation, such as the size of the camera, its ‘ruggedness’ (ability to survive in its manufacturing environment), and image accuracy. The specific situation of the application will dictate how these requirements are fulfilled.

The right camera enables the automation of vision meteorology systems. A key consideration is to use a camera that will require minimal calibration, as these tasks can be difficult and time consuming in a manufacturing environment. Cameras have progressed rapidly with the introduction of efficient self-calibrating models, but the exact model will depend on the manufacturing parameters and requirements.

Anothermetrology-smart-camerasr design decision is whether more than one camera is needed, as is often the case. Many meteorology solutions will use one camera, but more complex situations might require multiple imaging inputs. Some situations may even benefit from a camera in motion that will adequately capture the information needed for accurate measurements. These situations will require a more involved software solution and will demand more computing power. A good camera provider with meteorology experience will be able to walk customers through these options to identify the best arrangement for the situation.

A Proven

Imaging Solution Group (ISG) cameras have excelled in a wide range of challenging meteorology applications. One significant benefit that ISG cameras provide to meteorology customers is to embed custom algorithms to capture, then check the dimension accuracy in the camera itself. With this approach, no external image processing hardware or software is required as this is all performed in the camera. These advantages help meteorology users by providing an overall smaller size system and lower cost, as well as higher reliability.

ISG has also learned that generally, CCD-based cameras can be limited when trying to keep up with some higher speed production repetitive applications. CMOS Based cameras can offer higher frame rates for these applications. From years of experience in meteorology, the company now provides both CCD & CMOS camera systems that work well in many different situations. These cameras can capture at High Frame Rates or lower frame rates with very short exposure times.

ISG products are also used for semiconductor and printed circuit board (PCB) measurement and inspection, where the company has many installations. The rapid image processing, accuracy, and favorable costs particularly stand out for semiconductor and PCB customers where ISG has installed systems for semiconductor wafer surface profiling, wafer surface inspection, solder inspection and more. Compliance with tight measurements is critical to insure that parts and devices are ‘right’ the first time in these industries.

Author:
Brad Gouldthorpe
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