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3-D Inspection in Color Color The Color Ranger E combines color and 3-D in a single high-speed camera. At the Vision show in Stuttgart, Germany, last year, a jury consisting of machine vision experts choose the Color Ranger E from Sick AG (Waldkirch, Germany) as the winner of the prestigious Award for Applied Machine Vision, which recognizes outstanding products or processes. This multi-imaging solution combines color and three-dimensional (3-D) capabilities in one high-speed camera, eliminating the need for multiple cameras and reducing the overall cost of hardware and integration. The calibrated 3-D data provides measurements in real-world units such as millimeters, which alleviates much of the complexity of calibrating the system in the field. “The major advantage of the Color Ranger 3-D camera is the ability to simultaneously acquire high resolution 3-D height data along with redgreen- blue (RGB) color data with one camera,” says Jim Anderson, vision product manager, Sick. “The camera uses a multiscan technique to get multiple images from one camera and at a high rate of speed. In the case of color and 3-D data, the Color Ranger can acquire it at a rate of 11,000 scans per second.” Depending on the application requirements, the multiscan technology offers different measurement configurations for 3-D shape, RGB color, monochrome, contrast and laser scatter with a light source for each component that provides the suitable light characteristics. When using the multiscan setup, the image quality of each measurement can be tuned independently with its own set of parameters. According to Anderson, the Color Ranger helps customers overcome many of the obstacles that normally face multicamera vision systems. Because all of the images are created from a single camera, the alignment of images and timing of the system becomes a more manageable task. Also, the data is in a format that works with several leading machine vision software packages, making the analysis a procedure that operators and integrators will be familiar with even though they are now working with 3-D data as opposed to two-dimensional (2-D) grayscale. The concept for the Color Ranger was a result of listening to customers and taking a look at the industry need for a high-speed 3-D camera that also provides high-quality RGB color images. While there are other systems available in the 3-D scanning market, they incorporate multiple cameras that capture different data components, for example, a line scan color camera and a separate camera for 3-D laser triangulation. Anderson says that more components create more points of failure and add to the complexity and potentially the size of the overall scanning system. So far, the Color Ranger has been well-received and customers who have traditionally been using only 3-D systems are starting to look at how to incorporate the color data to enhance the functionality of their systems without major redesigns. Since the multiscan technology is flexible, the Color Ranger can be used in a variety of applications by editing the configuration file. Potential applications that use color imaging and 3-D include wood processing, quality assurance of electronic assemblies and fill and color verification in pharmaceutical production.
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