For electronics products sold today, necessary markings such as symbols, text, and numbers are applied to components during the manufacturing and assembly process. Components can be made of metal, plastic, glass, ceramic or other materials and markings are applied using laser etching, printing, or similar methods. Product makers must ensure that any markings are free of defects, meet quality and brand standards, and comply with trade regulations. What manufacturers need is a fast, accurate inspection solution to identify quality and color issues so they can be quickly addressed and corrected before products go to market.
Typical machine-vision inspection systems can assess text completeness and accuracy, but they cannot measure accurate color or fine-grain detail. Spectrometers provide highly accurate color measurement, but only for one spot at a time and they cannot recognize or assess characters or symbols. These limitations mean manufacturers may have to use two or more different inspection systems, increasing cost and production time.
With ACIS, users can now perform fast, automated measurement of text and symbol shape (inclusions and exclusions), dimensions, color, and contrast. ACIS helps manufacturers to ensure characters are legible and correctly formed, verify compliance with requirements for CE and other regulatory markings, ensure brand color and quality standards, and perform product text validation, while supporting part traceability (e.g., confirming serial numbers). Beyond quality control, the data ACIS captures as it detects small variations in markings can also be analyzed to identify trends and support process control.
The ACIS Solution For Text & Symbol Inspection
ACIS combines the best of machine vision (text inspection and area measurement) and spectrometers (accurate color measurement) in a single tool. Leveraging the visual acuity and context of imaging colorimetry, ACIS provides an integrated solution that helps manufacturers improve quality while increasing efficiency. ACIS performs accurate quality inspection and measurement of text, symbols, and markings—simultaneously using a single camera image.
ACIS Solution Components
- A ProMetric® I Imaging Colorimeter and lens
- Proprietary dome lighting configuration that ensures consistent illumination for accurate measurement of a broad range of specular and non-specular surface textures and finishes
- Metal frame for easy set up and placement
- ACIS™ Software, which enables users to perform:
- Auto detection of text on diffuse or specular surfaces
- User-defined dimensional sampling points
- Integrated color calibrations with optional user-definable color calibration
- Built-in interfaces to upstream production management systems
ACIS Key Capabilities
With ACIS, manufacturers can:
- Measure multiple locations simultaneously across an area to inspect color consistency between points with near-spectrometer accuracy
- Inspect small elements thanks to high-resolution, high sensitivity measurement capabilities with pixel resolution ≥ 10 μm
- Take precise, CIE-traceable chromaticity measurements (e.g., XYZ, L*a*b*) of small areas that are difficult to measure with conventional systems
Small Surface Area Color Inspection
Colorimetric imaging provides precise color measurement of small areas or small parts prior to assembly. Manufacturers can determine if color specifications are met to comply with regulatory requirements and conform to brand standards. The ACIS solution measures chromaticity (e.g., CIE L*a*b*) and contrast of areas too small or difficult to measure with conventional inspection systems.
Example of L*a*b* values reported in ACIS software for designated areas (regions of interest).
Verify Markings for Regulatory Compliance
Electronics and other products must meet multiple standards in today’s complex global marketplace. Various markings are required to indicate compliance or provide crucial information to users. For example:
- Many products sold in the European Union require a CE mark, indicating that they have been assessed and meet specific requirements for safety, health, and environmental protection
- Any electrical or digital products sold in the Unites States with communication/transmission capabilities (such as Bluetooth or Wi-Fi) are required to display an FCC certification ID number
- Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Directives are designed to ensure that any electrical and electronic equipment does not include specific materials that are deemed hazardous to human health or the environment
- A variety of national and international standards require markings related to battery and power specifications and safety, such as those of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC)
Typically, these standards not only require specific markings to be displayed on products, but also that the markings remain for the lifetime of the product, meaning they cannot be easily removed or smudged, they are resistant to solvents, and similar criteria. This requirement leads many manufacturers to opt for permanent marking methods such as laser etching.