18 Aug 2009
A round-up of the latest imaging products for industrial and scientific applications.
Shortwave IR imaging
High-resolution, shortwave-infrared (SWIR) area and linescan cameras from Sensors Unlimited are being used to improve the manufacturing yield of photovoltaic cells. According to the Princeton, NJ-based manufacturer, the InGaAs-based SWIR cameras, which operate between 0.9 and 1.7 µm, are ideal for inspecting silicon, owing to the material's transparency beyond 1.2 µm. The cameras reveal voids in silicon boules, bricks and ingots before they are sliced into wafers to produce mono- and multicrystalline solar cells. They can also detect hidden cracks by mapping stress in raw wafers, finished cells and thin films made for solar-electricity generating panels.
Entry-level line-scan cameras
e2v, France, claims that its DiViiNA family of line-scan cameras offers the "perfect balance between cost and performance" for entry-level needs in industrial inspection. The cameras feature e2v's 1024, 2048 and 4096 pixel sensors, running at 40 MHz and outputting 8 bits on Camera Link. The cameras can be set through a flexible serial control and triggered on free-run and external-trigger modes. Initial DiViiNA production units are shipping now.
The MM-200 measuring microscope from Nikon Instruments, Japan, is designed for high-accuracy measurement of precision parts, whether on the factory floor or in the inspection room. A dedicated monocular optical head is available for immediate measurement on the eyepiece on the production line, while a C-mount video head facilitates video monitoring. The MM-200 is suitable for a variety of parts, including small dies and moulds, drill bits, inserts, fine-pitch connectors, medical devices, gears and fibre-optic components.
High-sensitivity CCD cameras
JAI, Denmark, has launched two new members of its C3 Basic series of high-sensitivity CCD cameras. The 1.4 megapixel cameras with GigE Vision interface – the BM-141GE (monochrome) and the BB-141GE (Bayer colour) – can be used for a variety of machine-vision applications, but are particularly well suited for outdoor uses characterized by wide-ranging and continuously changing lighting conditions (e.g. traffic and high-end surveillance and security). The cameras are designed around Sony's popular ICX-285 2/3 inch progressive-scan CCD (1392 × 1040 pixel). This sensor uses its 6.45 µm pixel size and advanced microlens technology to provide high overall sensitivity (as low as 0.03 lux) with low smear characteristics. It also features extended spectral response in the near-IR region, offering roughly 4× the sensitivity of conventional sensors at a 945 nm wavelength.
IDS Imaging Development
A new USB camera line tailored to the needs of OEMs and system integrators is now available from IDS Imaging Development Systems. The German manufacturer says that the rugged metal housing of the USB uEye ME (Machine Edition) features a right-angle design that's "ideal for space-saving integration into machines and robots". In addition, the lockable USB and trigger/strobe connectors are designed for applications in demanding industrial environments. Users can specify from a broad choice of cables and a variety of state-of-the-art CMOS and CCD sensors with resolutions from VGA to 5 megapixel.
Non-contact video measurement
Falcon is a three-axis, non-contact video-measuring system that's suitable for both multi-user shop-floor applications and advanced manufacturing inspection. Developed by Vision Engineering, UK, Falcon employs high-resolution, indexed zoom optics (up to 100× magnification) to provide enhanced component-edge definition, while an indexed camera iris control reduces depth of field to deliver increased accuracy and repeatability of z-axis results. Other features include controllable quadrant LED illumination and motorized z-axis control. Vision's precision measuring stages provide a measurement capacity of up to 150 × 150 × 125 mm and include factory-completed NLEC calibration as standard.
Low-light CCD camera
Andor Technology, UK, is billing its new Clara interline CCD camera as an "important addition" to its portfolio of low-light-imaging cameras, with particular relevance to cell microscopy and OEM applications. The product is based around the popular 1.3 megapixel ICX285 sensor from Sony. Andor says that its proven vacuum process, alongside close attention to thermal management, results in deep air cooling to –45 °C for elimination of dark current, complementing a low-read noise floor of 3e rms.
Large-format IR detector
ULIS, France, is set to ramp production of a new large-format IR detector that it claims will allow OEMs and IR camera makers to reduce the size and weight of their optical systems by enabling them to design smaller-area cameras. In the last five years, ULIS has reduced the pixel pitch size of its IR products from 35 to 25 µm, and with this latest move to 17 µm. ULIS says that the large-format detector will support high-definition functionality in all-weather and night-surveillance cameras for military applications.
The Specialised Imaging Shadowgraph (SIS) camera enables high-resolution digital imaging of ultrafast events in ambient as well as low-light environments. Developed by Specialised Imaging, UK, the camera is integrated with an ultrafast, high-intensity spark source and can capture up to 11 million pixel images with the ability to shutter faster than 1 µs. Shadowgraphy has a range of applications – e.g. in aeronautical engineering (to see the flow around high-speed aircraft and missiles), as well as in combustion research, ballistics and the testing of glass.