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Machine Vision

Area Scan vs Line Scan

image examples of machine vision in difficult applications cylindrical objects, tight space, high speed

Understanding the advantages of scan systems

There are two approaches to image acquisition: area scan and line scan. The main difference between the two methods is how the image is captured.

In area scan cameras, a rectangular-shaped sensor captures an image in a single frame. The resulting image has a width and height that directly corresponds to the number of pixels on the sensor. Because of this, area-scan cameras are suited for machine vision applications, where the objects are small and have almost the same size in both dimensions. By contrast, line scan cameras contain a single row of pixels and build the final image pixel line by pixel line.

In certain applications, line scan systems have specific advantages over area scan systems. For example, inspecting round or cylindrical parts may require multiple area scan cameras to cover the entire part surface. However, rotating the part in front of a single line scan camera captures the entire surface by unwrapping the image. Line scan systems fit more easily into tight spaces for instances when the camera must peek through rollers on a conveyor to view the bottom of a part. Line scan systems can also generally provide much higher resolution than traditional cameras. Since line scan systems require parts in motion to build the image, they are often well-suited for products in continuous motion.

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