Illumination geometries and techniques

How to determine the best illumination for a specific machine vision task? There are in fact several aspects that must be taken into account to help you choose the right illumination for your vision system with a certain degree of confidence.

Application purpose

This is by far the first point that must be clear. If we want to inspect the surface of an object to look for defects or features such as printed text, then front illumination is needed - i.e. light coming from the camera side. Selecting the proper light direction or angle of incidence on the target surface as well as other optical properties such as diffuse or direct light depends on the specific surface features that must be highlighted.

If, on the other side, we plan to measure the diameter or the length of an object or we want to locate a through-hole, the best choice to maximize contrast at the edges is back illumination - i.e. light is blocked by the object on its way to the camera. The choice is not so obvious when dealing with more complex situations such as transparent materials and sometimes mixed solutions must be taken into account.

Illumination angle

Once we have established whether front or back illumination is more suitable, we must set the angle at which light hits the object surface. Although the angle may vary, there are two important subgroups of front and backlight illumination: bright field and dark field illumination. The four combinations that follow are described in the following sections.

Illumination directionality
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