Industrial Electronics

Robot-based system for surface measurements simplifies quality control for tech manufacturing

28 September 2021
The system records measurements in the vibration-prone environment of an industrial manufacturing plant. Source: Daniel Wertjanz/Technische Universität Wien

A lightweight optical system to capture 3D measurements of surfaces with micron-scale precision in high-vibration environments, such as industrial manufacturing plants, has been engineered by researchers from Technische Universität Wien in Austria. This tool could improve quality control inspection for many high-tech products, from semiconductors to consumer electronics.

Vibrations make capturing precise 3D measurements on the assembly line difficult. To overcome this, samples are taken to a lab for analysis. If defects are discovered, however, the items produced in the meantime must be discarded. The new system combines a compact 2D fast steering mirror with a high precision 1D confocal chromatic sensor, allowing it to operate in the vibration-prone environment.

To bring this capability to the production floor, the researchers had to design a way to capture measurements without the bulky instruments used in the lab. The 1D confocal chromatic distance sensor used, developed by project research partner Micro-Epsilon, works similarly to a confocal microscope to measure displacement, distance and thickness, but is significantly smaller. The sensor was combined with the highly integrated fast steering mirror, which had a diameter of just 32 mm.

The system, weighing only 300 g and measuring 75 mm3 x 63 mm3 x 55 mm3, is designed to be mounted on a tracking platform placed on a robotic arm, and provides contactless 3D measurements of arbitrary shapes and surfaces.

A reconstruction process was also devised that uses the measurement data to create a 3D image of the sample’s surface topography. The compact 3D measurement system fits on a metrology platform that serves as a connection to the robotic area and compensates for vibrations through active feedback control.

The research is described in The Optical Society (OSA) journal Applied Optics.

To contact the author of this article, email

Powered by CR4, the Engineering Community

Discussion – 0 comments

By posting a comment you confirm that you have read and accept our Posting Rules and Terms of Use.
Engineering Newsletter Signup
Get the Engineering360
Stay up to date on:
Features the top stories, latest news, charts, insights and more on the end-to-end electronics value chain.
Weekly Newsletter
Get news, research, and analysis
on the Electronics industry in your
inbox every week - for FREE
Sign up for our FREE eNewsletter