Small, versatile and fast - Launch of a new generation of high-speed 3D cameras with Ranger3

Industrial applications are calling for precise 3D measurements at faster and faster speeds in flexible production processes. Zero tolerance, even in the case of the tiniest errors and irregularities, is the order of the day. The technology used for this purpose must remain in the background, must not take up too much space, and should enable low-energy, low-maintenance operation. With a CMOS sensor and ROCC technology, SICK is taking 3D vision to the next level and setting new standards with Ranger3.
 
 
One of the first pilot customers gave the following assessment: “Ranger3 is a highly innovative vision sensor which opens up new business fields for us in the industry. We have integrated Ranger3 into our inspection system and it is now able to provide reliable measurements at speeds that were not possible before.” 3D vision has long been established as a reliable technological solution in industrial fields of application and it has been refined and improved considerably in recent years, but the current situation in the industry and the outlook for the future keep coming up with new challenges. These include higher throughput rates, further improvements to product quality and, above all, more product variants on just one production line right down to batch size 1. It is precisely these customized items – which can vary considerably in size, shape, and material – that a fully automated mass production system should be capable of manufacturing reliably. With Ranger3, SICK is aiming to rise to this challenge and take its continuous development work to the next level. 
 
 

Large measuring range for different object heights 

For over 30 years, SICK has been using parallelized SIMD sensor architectures with on-chip calculation to introduce high-performance imaging processes to the market. 1994 saw the launch of the Ranger RS2200, the first product with laser triangulation, which was followed by several sensor generations. Now, SICK is launching Ranger3 – the new generation of the Ranger triangulation product family for the demanding inspection tasks of the future. Chief among these is the need to provide absolutely accurate 3D measurements of many different object heights at frame rates which can keep up with the increasing speeds of production lines. 

CMOS sensor with ROCC technology reduces costs and complexity

For the laser triangulation, SICK uses its own CMOS sensor equipped with ROCC technology: Rapid on-chip calculations enable superior 3D performance for a wide range of object heights with high image resolution and perfect 3D precision. The calculation area of the sensor converts the projection of a laser line in 2D into a precise 3D representation, which means that there is no need for complex post-processing and the camera dimensions can be smaller. As the sensor provides the final 3D coordinates, the costs and complexity of the overall vision system are also reduced.  
 
 

No compromising on quality

Many common 3D applications require a compromise when it comes to the relationship between the height resolution and the resolution in the direction of movement; i.e., the 3D frame rate. As wide height ranges result in a lower frame rate at the same resolution, these compromises affect the quality of the result. In this case, the advantages of Ranger3 are clear: With its elevated performance level, these compromises have already been completely eliminated in many existing applications. Furthermore, this opens up new application areas in situations where it was not previously possible to find satisfactory solutions due to the number of compromises required.

Diverse applications for Ranger3

The first test users are thrilled with the new applications made possible by Ranger3. It covers a huge range of applications in many branches of industry:
  • Electronics and semiconductors: Ranger3 can be used for the precise inspection of components and PCBs as production speeds get faster and component sizes get smaller.
  • Tire production: Ranger3 monitors the production quality with precise measurements for a wide range of different tire sizes. Thanks to Ranger3, there is no need to spend time realigning the inspection system.
  • Logistics: Ranger3 provides precise volume and size measurements for both large packages and flat, thin objects.
  • Traffic: Ranger3 can be integrated into systems for predictive road or rail maintenance to provide precise measurements at a speed which does not hinder the flow of traffic.
  • Wood industry: Ranger3 reliably detects defects in organic material, whether it is knots or rot, by analyzing scattered laser light.
 
 
 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
As the Manager of the Marketing & Sales Business Unit, Andreas Behrens and his team are responsible for, among other things, the market-oriented and forward-looking expansion of the product range in the Identification and Vision Technology Department.