NEW HIGH TECNOLOGY! Kalle Heiska science journalist
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5 December 2001
VTT technology helps in the assembly of microscopic components

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Nowadays, micro-sized components that are invisible to the human eye are already being used both in electronics products and elsewhere. Components range from a millimetre to a micrometre in size and are getting even smaller. VTT has developed a unique prototype machine viewer system for use in the assembly and quality inspection of parts in this ‘micro world’.

A micro manipulator for electronics products is a robot that manipulates micro-sized parts. VTT’s new machine vision system greatly enhances the functioning of the manipulator because it enables the manipulator to receive accurate pictures of the parts.

In the micro world, all surfaces are rough and specks of dust are the same size as the components themselves. Other difficulties in ‘micro space’ are lighting, gravity and adhesive and electrostatic forces. Consequently, the component must be located in 3D space because it cannot be verified to exist in a specified physical platform.

VTT’s system scans the micro target area with a single moving camera. Information on the part’s depth is also obtained. This information shows how the component is positioned in the area of ‘relative micro space’ and enables a 3D surface model of the part to be created.

"We aim to exploit VTT’s new machine vision technology. Photonics is an area where VTT’s single camera system can be particularly useful,” explains Juha Yliollitervo, JOT Automation’s systems specialist.

According to him, the micro-world machine vision will be used in the realisation of equipment used in component manufacture, in handling components during assembly and in monitoring the quality of results.

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These days, multi-camera systems are used in the electronics industry, for placing the microphone inside the plastic cover of a mobile phone, for example. The magnifying lenses in current systems provide pictures of depth accuracy that are too fuzzy to meet the requirements of the future.

Development work for the micro-world machine vision system has been carried out at VTT Automation. The work has been financed by Tekes, JOT Automation, Orbis, Perlos Automation, Planar International and VTT. The development work is part of the Tekes PRESTO technology programme./VTT is currently finalising co-operation with Tampere University of Technology, which will enable the machine vision system to be attached to a new, even more accurate micro manipulator that will be developed at the university. Biotechnology is a new and promising field of application – alongside electronics and photonics – for VTT’s machine vision system.

Further information:

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VTT Automation
Reserach Scientist
Matti Saarinen
Tel:+358 (0)40 822 29060
JOT Automation
Juha Yliollitervo
Tel:+358 (0)40 730 7641
Feel free to use all news. Photographs copyright Kalle Heiska.
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