23 Jul 2024


High-speed surface inspector challenges line-scan cameras

Mitsubishi Electric has announced a compact, easy-to-install alternative to line-scan cameras for inspecting defects on flat surfaces. Called the line-scan bar, it offers high-quality, distortion-free images up to the edges of materials moving at speeds of up to 1,000m per minute, or even faster.

Compared with line-scan cameras, the new device is said to be easy to install. It is held in place above the surface of interest at a fixed height, with all LED illumination and optics built in. Mitsubishi reckons that, with just four screws and four cables, the line-scan bar can be installed in a few minutes, compared with the hours or even days that might be needed to install and align a line-scan camera system with its complex set-up and numerous ancillaries.

By being close to the material being inspected, the device also has a smaller footprint, thus reducing the costs and complexity of machines. Ease of installation and removal simplifies maintenance. Users no longer need to have specialist engineers on standby, and downtime is reduced.

One typical application area will be in print and thin-film production, where the sensor can detect surface defects on paper, plastics, fabrics, banknotes and even holograms. It is available in various widths that match common material sizes. For larger widths, multiple sensors can be cascaded side-by-side and acquire images seamlessly across the width of the material.

The new sensor is based on Mitsubishi’s contact image sensor (CIS) technology. Markus Köhler, the company’s business development manager, describes it as a potential game-changer.

“The new CIS offers high-quality image acquisition in the smallest footprint ever,” he says. “Taking up so little space, and with its ease of installation and integration, the CIS is a solution that all machine-builders, systems integrators and end-users have been waiting for.

“With guaranteed distortion-free image acquisition right up to the edges of the material, and no need to sacrifice resolution for larger material widths – as you would have to with a line-scan sensor – the CIS improves both defect detection and machine throughput,” Köhler adds. “With this new high-speed version, we can match any line-scan camera system for headline performance.”

The line-scan bar is being distributed in Europe by Stemmer Imaging.