Machine Vision Lighting techniques

Machine Vision Lighting techniques


How to determine the best illumination for a specific machine vision task? There are in fact several aspects that must be taken into account to help you choose the right illumination for your vision system.

Illumination techniques
How to determine the best illumination for a specific machine vision task?
There are in fact several aspects that must be taken into account to help you choose the right illumination for your vision system with a certain degree of confidence.
Application purpose
This is by far the first point that must be clear.

If we want to inspect the surface of an object to look for defects or features such as printed text, then front illumination is needed -
i.e. light coming from the camera side. Selecting the proper light direction or angle of incidence on the target surface as well as other
optical properties such as diffuse or direct light depends on the specific surface features that must be highlighted.

If, on the other side, we plan to measure the diameter or the length of an object or we want to locate a through-hole, the best choice
to maximize contrast at the edges is back illumination - i.e. light is blocked by the object on its way to the camera.

The choice is not so obvious when dealing with more complex situations such as transparent materials and sometimes mixed solutions must be taken into account.
Illumination Structures



Bright field light

Light is aimed directly at an object, often creating distinct shadows.  This type of lighting is effective when used on objects requiring high degrees of contrast, but creates specular reflections when used with shiny or reflective materials.

Dark field light

Light is projected at an angle to the surface, causing any variations to deflect light up into the camera, creating bright spots on a dark background or field.  Nothing is seen by the vision system if there are no aberrations on the surface.


Back Lighting

An even field of illumination is projected from behind an object, which is seen as a silhouette by the camera.  Backlighting is most commonly used for taking measurements or determining part orientation.


Diffuse Light: (Dome/Tunnel)

Reflected light, providing a non-directional, soft illumination free of harsh shadows that is well suited for highly specular objects.  This illumination effect is similar to the type of light found on an overcast day.


Co-Axial Illumination:

A variation of diffuse light in which light is aimed at an angled beam splitter that reflects the light down.  The object is viewed from above through the beam splitter.  This light type is particularly helpful on highly reflective objects or in situations where the area of inspection is obscured by shadows from its surroundings.


Each light type has a specific purpose, but is also adaptable for a range of applications not immediately related to its function. For example, a spotlight, which provides bright field illumination, can be placed at an angle to create a dark field effect.  For some applications, the best results are achieved by combining multiple light types.

Steps for Lighting Selection
The lighting selection plays an important role in determining the performance of image processing–based inspection.
Typical steps for selecting Lighting
1. Determine the type of lighting (specular reflection/diffuse
reflection/transmitted light).
Confirm the characteristics of the inspection (flaw, shape, presence/absence, etc.).
Check if the surface is flat, curved, or uneven.
2. Determine the shape and size of the necessary light.
Check the dimensions of the target and installation conditions.
Examples: ring, low-angle, coaxial, dome.
3. Determine the color (wavelength) of lighting
Check the material and color of the target and background.
Examples: red, white, blue.
For every application, the main objectives of lighting selection are the following: 
1. Maximizing the contrast of the features that must be inspected or measured; 
2. Minimizing the contrast of the features of no interest; 
3. Getting rid of unwanted variations caused by: 
     a. Ambient light, 
     b. Differences between items that are non-relevant tothe inspection task.
Related Products
The required irradiance is ensured by radiating direct light towards the center of the workpiece.
Optimal soft, uniform light for shiny surfaces; Diffused, shadowless illumination preventing halation effect
The features of the workpiece can be clearly extracted with direct light from a low angle towards the center of the workpiece.