4 Types of Optical Inspection Instruments

Automated optical inspection systems have become an essential part of manufacturing and quality assurance procedures in many different countries because they help speed up the entire process of inspecting and make it more efficient.

Off-line inspection can be performed when a particular part is removed from the manufacturing process for a thorough inspection. Similarly, on-line AOI is also common where the entire product can be inspected without removing it from the manufacturing process.

The purpose of implementing AOI solutions is to improve the inspection process by removing the deficiencies. Following are the four main categories of optical inspection:

1. Optical Comparators

As the name suggests, the optical comparators use normal optics to magnify and project the image of the object on a glass screen. Despite the introduction of various advanced and modern AOI solutions, optical comparators still the most commonly used optical inspection instrument used in a lot of different industries and manufacturing processes.

Another reason why optical comparator is so much popular than the other automated optical inspection methods is the fact that this type of instrument is a highly cost-effective inspection solution. Hence, the majority of the businesses are able to afford it quite easily.

The versatility of the optical comparator is almost unmatchable by the other AOI solutions. It allows lightweight inspection parts as well as large components that weigh a lot. The introduction of an optical edge finder has played the main role in automating the inspection process and remove the need to have an operator use the system all the time.

There are many different types and designs of optical comparators available in the market so that different companies and manufacturers can use them in their manufacturing processes. Generally, manufacturers need different project screen sizes and horizontal or vertical light path configurations.

2. Video Systems

Video AOI solutions are also becoming quite famous in the manufacturing and production cycles. Such systems make use of magnification lens and cameras for a thorough inspection of different components.

However, such AOI machines are much more expensive than traditional optical comparators. The versatility of the video AOI solutions is also significantly lesser than the optical comparators because there are not too many options available in this type of optical inspection instrument.

Yet, video inspection systems can be highly useful when they are implemented in a suitable manner.

The small size of the vision systems and their compactness makes them suitable for inspecting lightweight components. Modern camera and technology advancements allow these systems to magnify in a very high range of 1 to 1300x range.

Manufacturers also have the option of using video edge detection to automate the entire process and eliminate the need to have a manual operator in the inspection process. This kind of thorough image digitization process is beneficial computer manipulation and storage with the help of modern video systems.

Since there have been massive advancements in the fields of computer manipulation, image processing, and other kinds of magnification tools, the accuracy and repeatability of automated vision inspection systems have also improved to a great extent.

3. Microscopes

Microscopes are also one of the main optical inspection instruments. Inspection microscopes use conventional optics to magnify a product or specific component up to the desired details.

Most of the inspection microscopes are now used along with a visual inspection system to bring versatility into the inspection process and enjoy the benefits of both automated and manual inspection.

Microscopes are typically used to examine lightweight components.

4. Laser Systems

Laser systems are one of the most advanced developments in optical inspection instruments. They offer much more accuracy than the rest of the optical inspection instruments. Large-scale manufacturers can usually afford laser systems and implement them in their production cycle to enhance the quality of the product and ensure maximum accuracy of the process.

The working of the laser AOI solutions includes reflecting a laser beam to inspect a fine detail and also evaluate the distances with the help of time-delay calculations.  It provides the users with a reliable and specialized method of measurement.

However, setting up the laser AOI solutions can be a complex and lengthy procedure. Generally, laser inspection instruments are suitable for specialized production or calibration of different devices and machines.

The Bottom Line

Other than these four major types, there are also other types of optical inspection instruments available on the market. The concept of specialized AOI solutions has also become highly popular as more new trends are emerging in the industry on a regular basis.

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