3D Surface Geometry Sensors

| Information and Communication Technology

The sensors use optical triangulation of the images from two cameras

High precision 3D snapshot sensor can detect surface anomalies as well as measuring geometry, shape and surface defects of objects in automated inline processes

Sensing specialist and equipment manufacturer Micro-Epsilon has introduced a new range of high precision 3D snapshot measurement sensors that is suitable for automated, inline measurement of geometry, shape and surface quality of objects within manufacturing processes. The sensors in the range are particularly suited to high precision tasks in manufacturing as a result of their extremely high resolution and repeatability, as well as their large measuring area.

The new surfaceCONTROL 3D 3500 is a 3D snapshot sensor with a compact design and very high resolution in the Z-axis (from 1.0 µm). With a repeatability of up to 0.4µm, the sensor is significantly more advanced that similar equipment in high precision 3D measurement technology. Due to its high performance, the sensor is able to reliably detect even the slightest of deviations in planarity, for example, or height differences of very small components (e.g. IC pins) on printed circuit boards. A high data processing speed of up to 2.2 million 3D points per second enables the sensor to increase productivity in the respective application.

Fringe projection

The surfaceCONTROL 3D 3500 sensor operates on the principle of optical triangulation based on fringe projection, which allows direct 3D measurement of components. Using a matrix projector, a sequence of patterns is projected onto the surface of the target object. The light from the patterns is viewed and recorded by two cameras either side of the projector. The three-dimensional surface of the target object is then generated from the recorded image sequence to give topographical perspective and enable the measurement.

The surfaceCONTROL 3D 3500 is available in two models, each offering a different measuring area and depth of field. Both models are fully integrated industrial sensors that are protected to IP67 with passive cooling (active cooling is available for higher operating temperatures).


The sensor is suitable for a wide range of applications including 3D measurement of high precision mechanical parts. Width, tilt angle and position measurement of rivets can also be performed as well as surface defect detection, flatness inspection of circuit boards, planarity inspection of unpopulated PCB substrates and both the detection and evaluation of breaks on clutch discs.

Completeness checks can be performed on electronic components for fitted PCBs as well as 3D text recognition of embossments that can’t be solved using 2D image processing due to lack of contrast.

The list of applications for the sensor even extends to the inspection of height and thickness of adhesive beading on smartphone shells and the determination of shape deviation defects on injection moulded parts.

In terms of end user applications, the positioning and configuration of the sensor can be adapted to meet the requirements of most surface quality inspection tasks that require high precision and repeatability.

Software integration

The surfaceCONTROL 3D supports the very latest GigE Vision and GenICam standards for easy integration into third-party image processing software. A comprehensive software development kit (SDK) is also provided by Micro-Epsilon that allows customers to develop their own analysis software to suit their specific application.

Also included in the scope of supply is Micro-Epsilon’s 3D View software, which offers a convenient user interface for surfaceCONTROL sensors. The software allows fast commissioning, evaluation of the sensor, set up and optimisation of parameters, and ensures the correct positioning of the measuring object and sensor. The software can also be used to start data acquisition. It enables 3D data to be visualised and exports this in different file formats (ASCII, CSV, STL, PLY) for further processing. The software is particularly helpful to systems integrators as it allows them to access all GenICam parameters and simplifies software integration. For inline applications, display of the measurement duration allows conclusions to be drawn about the process cycle time.

Real 3D data without data loss

The 3DInspect software from Micro-Epsilon is a powerful tool for sensor parameter set up and industrial measurement tasks with the SC3510 sensor models. The software, which is included with the range of sensors, transmits the measurement data from the sensor via Ethernet, providing this data in three-dimensional form. This 3D data is further processed, evaluated and assessed using 3DInspect measuring programs on a PC and, if necessary, logged and transmitted via Ethernet to a control unit. In addition to the fast data output via Gigabit Ethernet, the sensor offers an additional digital I/O interface. The optional 2D/3D gateway module offers EtherNet/IP, PROFINET and EtherCAT connections for measurement value transfer.

DefMap3D for individual surface analysis

surfaceCONTROL DefMap3D is a piece of optional extra software for the detection and analysis of surface defects. It includes all components and processes required for set up, configuration and evaluation of inspection tasks. A wide range of features are included, from analysis of individual parts and measurement of small batches as well as robot-supported inspection of several measuring fields. Sensor control, calculation of 3D point cloud and defect detection can be automated using macro commands.

As part of the surface analysis, the software provides several methods of detecting and objectively evaluating shape errors within the surface data. The targeted use of different filter types can reduce the effects of surface structures (eg graining). The software generates reports containing the inspection results and is available in different versions, the performance scope of which is oriented towards different measurement tasks (eg digital shape, digital stone, digital light tunnel).

According to Glenn Wedgbrow, Business Development Manager at Micro-Epsilon, 3D images were previously captured was to build up a series of 2D profiles, which meant having to wait for the individual profiles to be captured before processing and building the 3D point cloud.

He explains that the surfaceCONTROL 3D sensors improve on that scenario by capturing all that information in one go, resulting in much faster acquisition and processing times.

“The surfaceCONTROL 3D 3500 sensors will find applications in almost every industrial sector, from automotive production to electronics and machine building. In automated stop-and-go production lines, the sensor will outperform any other 3D measurement sensor currently available on the market, particularly in terms of its Z-axis resolution, repeatability, large measuring area and its comprehensive software development and integration tools,” he concludes.

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