White light scanning for automatic inspection

White-light scanning is now fast enough to be used on production lines to check manufactured parts against CAD drawings, according to British metrology developer Phase Vision.

The company, which is demonstrating its area-based Quartz white-light scanner at the Southern Manufacturing & Electronics exhibition in Farnborough this week, said such systems can take the necessary measurements within seconds. They can then alert the operator if an object exceeds or is approaching agreed tolerances.

The system works by generating a 'point-cloud' containing a million or so data points which are stitched together in software. The resulting 3D image can then be compared with the original CAD image using specialist software.

White light is particularly suitable because, compared with laser scanning, it is more tolerant of range variations and can scan larger areas, said Ralph Weir, Phase Vision's CEO. He said it can also be less colour-dependent than other non-contact scanners when it comes to light pollution and coloured objects.

Launched last year for applications such as large-scale engineering metrology and reverse engineering of existing components – for instance, vintage car parts for which no drawings exist – the portable Quartz scanner costs around £50,000 and is based on technologies developed at Loughborough University's Optical Engineering Group

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