Hindsight Electronics Manufacturing
The ongoing reduction in size of components and circuitry used in the lab automation industry has developed the need for new manufacturing techniques. The miniaturization of components is by no means a new phenomenon but the demand for smaller and smaller components has increased dramatically in recent years. The ability of machines to locate insertion points while assembling intricate components is exactly how modern machine vision systems are utilized. The accuracy with which such systems can interact with components is key to producing consistent products that pass quality checks with ease. The speed at which these components can be produced is also a significant factor and many production lines depend on hitting minimum quota objectives on a daily basis.
The image above reveals a number of small reference points on some printed circuit boards which are almost undetectable to the naked eye. Primary use of these reference points is to locate the insertion points with absolute accuracy, to allow the machine to insert miniscule parts to the miniaturized component. This ensures that the part can be inserted accurately even if the overall fabrication of the component board is not to specification. It is important for all machine vision systems to have a preprogrammed insertion point to act as a guide when working in such an environment.
In laboratory experiments where vials need to have one or two drops of liquid placed in them at high speeds, reference points are used to allow the robot to see where the mouth of the vial is located. Although vials are always of uniform fabrication, it is important that the robotic device has this reference point to prevent inaccuracies in the experiment results. This has been discussed in length on other articles on this website, so I do not need to repeat those findings here.