Thursday, June 2, 2011

The CV5502 – no looker but …

To continue my report on this high-end vision system from Keyence …

Setting up the camera and developing an application was really quite intuitive. Keyence provide a wide range of part location tools, including pattern matching, so locating inspection tools is straightforward. There’s also an impressive range of image processing tools, should you need to erode, dilate, perform a Sobel X or Y and so on. More tools than I think I’d ever use.

As for carrying out inspections, everything you would expect is available – gauging, blob detection, blob filtering – plus a few extras. These are the Stain and Trend functions. I have to admit that I haven’t fully got to grips with them but they appeared geared to surface flaw detection, which is one of the more challenging areas in industrial machine vision.

A couple of other aspects of the system worth mentioning are the ability to hook up to a PC via USB, and the provision of two SD cards. In principle the USB connection allows offline development of an application prior to dumping it onto the Keyence box, although in practice I found it rather cumbersome. The SD capability provides a way of saving images, although I can’t help thinking that I’d rather just plug in a memory stick. These aren’t really negatives; just some slightly odd Keyence quirks.

The last point to mention is price. The 5000 series is not low cost machine vision. In fact at around $7,000 for the single 2Mp camera configuration it’s comparable to the equivalent resolution InSight smart camera from Cognex. However, if you need multiple cameras the economics shifts in Keyence’s favor. A two camera system will set you back just under $10k, and four (including expansion module,) will be comfortably under $20k, so if you think in terms of dollars per camera it might be good value.

Bottom line: Keyence is a serious player in machine vision, and unless you really need PC functionality I’d suggest you take a close look at what they could do for you.

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