Light Your Path to Machine Vision Success

You can’t ignore the need for proper lighting in machine vision, yet numerous hurdles stand in the way of achieving optimal lighting levels.

Highly reflective surfaces like plastic containers may make it tough to pick up flaws around bottle caps for companies in the food and beverage industry. Embossed or engraved barcodes present special challenges.

Proper lighting illuminates details and creates clarity. When you know you have workable images, then you can move ahead with confidence that low quality parts won’t pass inspection and barcodes will be read without confusion.

Read about the standards that are making an impact in machine vision lighting, strategic advances, and tips.

The Importance of Machine Vision Lighting

Lighting equipment is not created equal. The various options on the market impact each company and each industry’s operations in different ways. Lighting operations can be customized for applications and systems are becoming easier to use.

International standards are guiding the development of the machine lighting industry. The top machine vision industry standards are available on at the Advanced Imaging Association (AIA Vision Online) website’s Standards page.

Included are the GigE Vision® Standard, Camera Link® Standard, and summaries of other standards hosted by trade groups from around the world. Also available is the Global Machine Vision Interface Standards Brochure. Hardware and software interface standards along with a helpful comparison chart are included in the brochure.


Get ready for smart lighting. The command and control segment of the lighting standard will soon extend to intelligent optics.

In the article, LEDs: Not Just Another Light Bulb, Steve Kinney, general manager of business development at CCS America Inc. said, I know of applications right now that would like to have the control system talk to the lens, telling it to zoom in here, autofocus there, track this target.”

The autonomy will eventually include all components on a machine vision system, allowing them to self-configure, time to each other, and give users seamless control.

A step toward smarter lighting has been taken this year with the Triniti LED light controller. It was developed by Gardasoft and the name shows its capability for bringing control, operational monitoring, and network compatibility to machine vision lighting.

Lighting Tips

What are the basic lighting requirements to achieve a quality image? Proper focus and illumination combine to deliver the right contrast. When the illumination is uneven then the imaging device has to work harder and slows down processing time.

Here are two key tips from Cognex, a manufacturer of machine vision systems, that are available on its website: Know the material that the objects in question are made from. The size, shape, and finish along with the color all affect the lighting.

Barcodes are another challenge to handle. Lighting solves the problem of uneven, noisy, or highly-reflective substrates and marks due to shadows. In the article The Most Common Causes of Uneven Barcodes, benefits for different types of lighting are highlighted.

Diffused lighting may help to illuminate printed barcodes on glossy, flat surfaces and dark field lighting can apply low-angle beams of light to enhance the readability of embossed or engraved barcodes.

In the plastics industry, proper lighting is essential. Highly reflective surfaces are common and hidden flaws caused by phase changes during injection molding processes may go undetected without quality lighting.

As noted in Lighting Techniques Overcome Challenges in Plastics, special lighting and image-acquisition techniques uncover fine cracks or other hidden defects such as the inability of plastic caps to keep carbonated beverages in their bottles or flaws in blister-packed pills.

Proper lighting will maximize your machine vision system and help you produce the high quality products that will build your reputation for excellence.

Industrial automation is an exciting field and A3 Automate links you to the knowledge of industry leaders and resources that will give you a competitive edge. Visit A3 regularly for news on upcoming events, informational videos, and articles that will improve your use of automation.


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