Quality Magazine

Innovations: Vision Gauge Sees Big Picture for Small Parts

April 6, 2012
The 300 Series Digital Optical Comparators boast cost-effective field-of-view system designed for smaller parts.

The 300 Series VisionGauge Digital Optical Comparators are cost-effective field-of-view systems designed for smaller parts (up to 1.7 by 1.2 inches). Source: VISIONx

The 300 Series VisionGauge Digital Optical Comparators allow the operator to quickly and easily check flexible and other hard-to-inspect parts, like the automotive clip pictured, against CAD data. Source: VISIONx

VisionGauge® Digital Optical Comparators are described as complete, ready-to-run, Windows-based solutions featuring three different types of LED illumination to carry out fine, detailed inspections. “This allows the system to produce crisp, sharp edges and perform beautifully even when working with hard-to-image materials and difficult geometries,” says Patrick Beauchemin, P. Eng. Ph. D. of VISIONx Inc. (Pointe-Claire, QC).
“The system’s main benefit is its ability to automatically compare a part to its CAD file, with little or no setup time.” According to Beauchemin, the comparators also provide instant results, the ability to automatically collect complete electronic documentation (i.e. compute statistics, collect images, data, results and measurements) and the ability to carry out very high-accuracy measurements. The system is specially designed for small parts, typically just a few inches in size.
However, as Beauchemin points out, larger parts require a 3-axis motorized stage, such as the company’s 500 Series. “The 300 Series field-of-view systems are desktop instruments that have all of the functionality of the 500 Series VisionGauge Digital Optical Comparators, with the sole exception that they are limited to smaller parts, up to 1.7 by 1.2 inches,” says Beauchemin. The 300 Series is a desktop system that can read-in a part’s CAD file, automatically align the CAD data to the part and automatically compare the part to the CAD’s bi-directional tolerances to produce a pass/fail result, as well as deviations from nominal.
“It can also be used to measure various dimensions on the part, either manually or completely automatically,” says Beauchemin. “Many customers use it to free up some of the work from their CMMs and video CMMs, or vision systems.” While traditional optical comparators with overlays (Mylars, templates or transparencies) can be used, there are many drawbacks to using overlays. “The inspection is much less accurate and the results are operator-dependent,” says Beauchemin. “[Not to mention] the cost of the overlays and the equipment and time required to print and calibrate the overlays.”
 Overlays can only be used by one person at a time, setting them up is slow and operator-intensive and it is impossible to “recall settings” for an overlay (i.e. position and orientation), meaning the operator needs to re-align every time a part is set up.
 “CAD files are available whenever you need them-on the hard disk or across the network-can be shared and copied, ‘settings recall’ is automatic and reading-in a CAD file is almost instantaneous,” says Beauchemin. “For example, if one of your suppliers needs to use one of your overlays, you need to physically send it to him, which results in costs and delays. A CAD file can be sent electronically almost instantly, at no cost,” added Beauchemin.
According to Beauchemin, the system was developed in direct response to customer requests, one of which was the ability to work directly with the part’s CAD data and do away with the overlays described. Other requests included eliminating operator-dependent error, the ability to inspect and measure parts directly on the shop floor-right in the work cell when the parts are being manufactured-the ability to automatically collect measurements, statistics and data and fill the need for higher accuracy than was available from traditional optical comparators. “We started developing the VisionGauge Digital Optical Comparator in 2008 and we first introduced it to the marketplace in 2009,” says Beauchemin.
“The 300 Series, which is the continuity of this work, was first introduced at the end of 2011 and officially launched in February of 2012.” According to Beauchemin, customer response has been excellent. The system is being used by manufacturers, both large and small, to inspect parts across a wide range of industries. For example, in the medical industry, it is being used to inspect and measure craniomaxillofacial implants. In the automotive industry, it is used to verify that rubber extrusions (for the door trim, for example) are within tolerance.
“Job shops also use it for a wide variety of parts,” says Beauchemin. “They especially appreciate the fact that no part setup is required so that part changeover can be done in seconds by the machine operator, directly on the shop floor.”

For more information, contact:

210 Brunswick
Pointe-Claire, QC Canada
H9R 1A6 (514)


Maximum part size (20X model): 1.7 inch (horizontal) x 1.2 inch

(vertical) [2.0 inch (diagonal)]

Maximum part size (10X model): 3.1 inch (horizontal) x 2.3 inch

(vertical) [3.9 inch (diagonal)]

Maximum part height: 0.8 inch (20X model) 3.0 inch (10X model)

Image viewing area (diagonal): 38 inch

Maximum load: 50 lbs. Camera: high-resolution, digital (9 Megapixel)