PANOVOTEC GmbH uses JAI 45-megapixel camera to create high-precision color measurement system for use in automotive, medical, and other industries.
With the MSC 8X8 multispectral camera, PANOVOTEC has developed a new type of system for photometric analyses with high resolution and short measurement times. The use of two filter wheels opens up a previously unattainable flexibility for the combination of color filters in order to obtain even more color information. A high-resolution camera from JAI with a 45-megapixel sensor ensures optimal image capture.
In many industries, the exact adherence to color specifications is an important quality feature. Examples of such applications can be found in the automotive industry, where manufacturers place extreme value on control and display elements as well as cockpit and ambient lighting in their vehicles to ensure they are exactly color-matched. In medical technology, LED operating room lights and many other components have to meet precise specifications to fulfill the strict requirements of this industry.
Often, the reason for making sure the colors match before assembling decorative plastic panels on various devices and systems goes far beyond aesthetics. That's because the added value of the system increases with each assembly step, so replacing parts that are out of line in terms of color becomes increasingly expensive or even impossible at a later process step.
For such tasks, the test and automation company PANOVOTEC (Nuremberg, Germany) has previously developed and successfully deployed systems that were able to check the chromaticity coordinates, luminance and optical homogeneity of components. Their latest system, built around JAI's SP-45001-CXP4 camera, delivers an even higher level of flexibility and performance for color measurements and analysis.
“The new MSC 8X8 multispectral camera is a consistent further development of our previous products for photometric analyses and potentiates the possibilities compared to its predecessors,” explains PANOVOTEC Managing Director Tobias Postler. “By using a double filter wheel that we developed ourselves, users have two times eight superimposed filter positions at their disposal, which can be automatically brought into the beam path. This results in 64 different filter combinations, which according to our research is unique in the market.”
45 Megapixel resolution
An essential element of this new development is JAI's SP-45001-CXP4 monochrome camera. This CMOS camera from JAI's Spark Series has a very high resolution of 45 megapixels, a high bit depth of 14 bits and works with a HDR (High Dynamic Range) mode. In combination with the filters of the MSC 8X8, these properties enable extremely precise photometric analyzes to determine values such as luminance, dominant wavelength and color location.
The system is suitable for both inline use in continuous production plants and offline applications, such as in the laboratory or for random sample testing. The original motivation, however, comes from inline operation, which is why PANOVOTEC chose this Spark model with global shutter, a maximum image acquisition rate of 38 frames/s and a CoaXPress interface with 2 or 4 channels that allow a data transfer rate of up to 6.25 Gbps per channel to the image processing computer. Depending on the set exposure time and the desired output parameters, cycle times from 0.5 seconds for different exposure levels can be achieved, which is a sufficient speed for many inline processes.
Proven camera partner
PANOVOTEC had already relied on JAI cameras in the previous models and, according to Managing Director Postler, had very good experiences, which were confirmed again in the development of the MSC 8X8:
“We turned to JAI because we have had very high demands regarding the image quality of the cameras that JAI was able to meet with this Spark model. In addition to the excellent resolution of 45 megapixels, it was also important to us that the integrated camera had outstanding shock and vibration resistance and allowed distributed image processing on several PCs. This was possible with the Spark camera via the Link Sharing function of CoaXPress.”
In addition to these technical benefits, Postler said, there were other factors that spoke in favor of JAI:
“The support from our partner is excellent, our direct contact person always gave us reliable and competent advice on general inquiries and regarding the camera firmware. From sales to support, we have always been able to rely on professional and friendly cooperation. For example, JAI has always kept the specified delivery dates. That is not a matter of course.”
JAI supported PANOVOTEC not only in selecting the appropriate camera model, but also in choosing the lens, the right lens flange, and the correct lens-to-camera distance. In addition, optimal thermal management was required to capture images that were as noise-free as possible, thus creating the basis for high-quality photometric analyses. Here, experts from JAI contributed valuable know-how to ensure that the overall solution was optimal in terms of temperature development. A Peltier cooling unit in the MSC 8X8 provides active cooling for the entire system and thus also for the camera sensor.
Flexible in use
Users benefit from the high flexibility of the multispectral camera system, which PANOVOTEC first assembles and calibrates with different filter combinations based on the existing requirements. Currently, two optimized and verified configurations of the two filter wheels exist for this purpose, in which either three CIE tristimulus filters or several filters for multispectral measurements are used. However, individual configurations according to customer requirements are also possible.
Depending on the required output parameters, the associated software from PANOVOTEC then performs an automated snap sequence with various filter combinations. The RAW image data is then converted into valid physical-technical units, i.e., into measured values, with the help of the calibration functions stored for the respective camera/filter combination. The algorithms for all necessary calculations are already integrated in the associated software, so users can start working with their system without lengthy preparations.
Currently, the system is designed for integration in PANOVOTEC test systems. This provides customers with a complete solution that is optimally tailored to their needs, including the tried and tested software. Users with image processing know-how can also purchase the system separately from PANOVOTEC and integrate it into their own applications or use it as a stand-alone system in the laboratory.
In use, the multispectral camera system provides accurate measured values for illuminance distribution, luminous intensity distribution, color coordinates, dominant wavelength, discrete spectral characteristics, and correlated color temperature. With this information, meaningful tests in incoming goods inspection, for quality assurance in production and many other applications are possible.
Postler gives an example:
“The supplier of a German sports car manufacturer is already using MSC 8X8 in an end-of-line test system for cockpit components and is highly satisfied with the results. The system ensures that no products are shipped with incorrectly equipped lighting components, such as LEDs with the wrong wavelength or brightness, which would lead to customer complaints. It also eliminates the risk of drivers being blinded by incorrect metering or calibration when maximum brightness limits are exceeded at night.”
It is also very important for monitors in the medical industry to ensure that luminance and homogeneity meet the requirements. When displaying X-ray images, these monitors replace the classic images in front of a fluorescent screen and must not exhibit any fluctuations in homogeneity, as this can lead to misinterpretation by the doctor in the worst case.
“According to our research, there is currently no color measurement camera system on the market that can compete with the MSC 8X8 in terms of measurement accuracy and speed. In high-end applications, our multispectral camera is therefore currently the only system that can reliably meet demanding customer requirements,” says the PANOVOTEC Managing Director. “In this context, the integrated Spark cameras from JAI have a very large share in the performance of the overall system due to their high resolution and speed.”
PANOVOTEC GmbH (www.panovotec.com) was founded as a company for test systems and automation technology in 1990. Since then, as part of the Papp Group, it has developed into an established supplier of customer-specific special solutions for all relevant markets in the field of testing and automation. Especially the technology developments in haptics and optical inspection are unique worldwide.