Measuring the Impossible with 3D Line Confocal Sensors - Part 2

In part 2 we will discuss the benefits of using FocalSpec 3D Line Confocal Sensors for component assembly inspection, electronics inspection, and medical applications.

Component and Assembly Inspection

Fast and accurate component and final assembly inspection can be achieved using 3D line confocal sensors for both inline and offline applications. Particularly when measuring complex materials and surfaces, line confocal sensors exceed standard inspection methods. Engineers can use these sensors for measuring component dimensions, orientation, step height, gap and offset, material thickness, and surface properties such as roughness and flatness. Line confocal sensors can also be used to inspect soldering and gluing quality on small parts such as PCBs.

PCB inspection with 3D Line Confocal Sensors

3D surface profile scan of a PCB board. The measurement location and direction is marked on the image. See measurement below.

Detailed contour analysis of PCB conductive track

Detailed contour measurement of PCB conductive track

The quality of generated scan data from these sensors is equal to traditional microscopic data, however unlike with a microscope, a 3D line confocal sensor generates millions of data points simultaneously and can acquire the object in motion. This facilitates full inspection of electronic components and their assembly for inline production environments.

Printed, Hybrid, and Flexible Electronics Inspection

Line confocal sensors can be used at various stages of the printed electronics manufacturing process, starting with substrate material development and manufacturing, where surface roughness is a key measurement. All substrate materials can be detected with line confocal sensors whether they are shiny, glossy or transparent (for example glass or PET foil). Furthermore, defects can be identified, such as delamination, scratches, or impurities in coating and transparent substrates.

Line confocal sensors provide quick and accurate 3D topography (surface) imaging whether it’s for screen-printing, inkjet printing, or dispensing materials. They also provide step height and width measurement of printed structures.

In addition, cemented or glued components on transparent substrates are easily captured. Traditional 3D dimensional measurements can still be taken, however line confocal sensors also allow for the inspection of air gaps, bubbles, and other types of delamination on or through the transparent substrate.

3D image of printed patterns on transparent PET 
using a FocalSpec LCI1600 sensor

Medical applications

3D line confocal sensors are able to scan the depth and shape of embossed and etched 3D features, parting line flash of molded parts, surface roughness and texture of extruded parts and web products, and burr height in precision-stamped and micro-machined medical parts. One of the most common applications leveraging the large measurement range of tomographic line confocal imaging is the non-destructive inspection of completeness and integrity of heat seals in sterile medical packages.


3D line confocal sensors provide a highly specialized vision solution for the most challenging, complex measurement applications. Their ability to simultaneously generate 3D tomography, 3D topography, and 2D intensity data allows these sensors to perform high accuracy measurement tasks that conventional solutions can’t solve, such as scanning and quality inspection of curved, transparent, multi-layered, and highly reflective materials. In addition, these sensors offer much faster scan rates than competing metrology-grade technologies, making them suitable for inline production environments.

When faced with a scanning problem that appears impossible to solve, 3D line confocal sensors can provide the vision solution you’re looking for!

For more information on this subject visit the Meet FocalSpec section of our website, or learn about line confocal imaging on our LCI Technology page.