3D Machine Vision Technology: See into the Future of Manufacturing

29 February 2024
3d machine vision

Unlock elevated precision and efficiency on your production line with 3D machine vision technology. This isn’t just an equipment upgrade; it’s a revolutionary shift in how your machines perceive and engage with the world. Picture your machines seamlessly identifying and manipulating objects in three dimensions, instantly. This exemplifies the impactful capabilities of 3D machine vision in action. If enhancing your manufacturing process is a priority, understanding and incorporating this technology is indispensable.

Let’s explore the transformative potential of 3D machine vision in optimizing your production landscape:

What is a 3D Vision System?


Elevate your machines to superhero status with 3D machine vision, enabling them to see in three dimensions, mirroring human vision. This technology captures images from diverse angles through cameras and sensors, employing sophisticated software to amalgamate these images into a comprehensive 3D model. This breakthrough is a game-changer for your production line, empowering machines to detect defects, measure objects, and guide robots with unparalleled accuracy. 

Let’s delve into the mechanics of how it works:


  • Cameras and Sensors: These are the eyes. They capture images from various angles.
  • Lighting: It’s essential that those pictures come out crystal clear, without any tricky shadows or glare.
  • Software: This is the brain of 3D vision. It translates captured images into a 3D model, enabling the machine to comprehend and take actionable steps based on the visual information.


Mastering these components marks the initial stride in revolutionizing your manufacturing process. 3D machine vision goes beyond mere technological upgrades; it allows you to tailor your technology to address your specific challenges. Whether scrutinizing minute components or overseeing intricate assemblies, this technology adapts to enhance your efficiency like never before.

aditya wardhana 8k9QyEhjMV4 unsplash
Image Aditya Wardhana

How does 3D Vision differ from 2D Vision?


As you delve into the realm of machine vision, you’ll encounter two primary types: 3D and 2D vision. While both are transformative, they fulfill distinct roles on your manufacturing line. Grasping the dissimilarities is key to selecting the most suitable tool for your specific needs.

Think of 2D vision as akin to a traditional photograph, capturing flat images with length and width but lacking depth. This suits uncomplicated tasks where assessing the visual appearance of a product suffices, such as scanning barcodes or verifying labels. It’s a direct and efficient solution for numerous applications.

Now, picture enhancing that photograph with an additional dimension—that’s where 3D vision comes into play. Beyond capturing length and width, 3D vision measures the depth of objects. This added depth perception empowers your machines to comprehend the shape, size, and positioning of objects in ways 2D vision cannot achieve. This capability proves indispensable for intricate tasks like inspecting product volume, guiding robots in assembly processes, or sorting objects based on their size.

Here’s a brief comparison:

2D Vision: Ideal for surface-level tasks, akin to having a snapshot from the top view.

3D Vision: Introduces depth to the picture, enabling machines to comprehend the complete shape and size of objects.

The decision between 3D and 2D vision hinges on your particular requirements. If your objective is to verify the correct placement of a label or the presence of a part, 2D vision might suffice. However, if precision in placing parts within an assembly or assessing the volume of a product is paramount, 3D vision is the optimal choice.

An Introduction to 3D Vision Systems.
Image: QVIRO

How Does a 3D Vision System Work?


Cameras and sensors are the starting point, functioning as your machine’s eyes. Rather than capturing a single flat photo, they take multiple shots from diverse angles, providing a comprehensive view.

Lighting plays a crucial role, ensuring each image is clear, and devoid of shadows or blurs, facilitating accurate scene interpretation by the system.

The true marvel lies in the software, acting as the brain that stitches these multiple images into a unified 3D model. This isn’t merely for display; the model enables your machine to comprehend the precise size, shape, and location of objects.

Visualize a scenario where a robot arm needs to pick up a part. With 3D vision, it precisely discerns the part’s location, angle, and orientation, ensuring the robot adjusts flawlessly, picking it up accurately every time. This not only accelerates production but also minimizes errors.

In simple terms, a 3D vision system captures varied images, employs precise lighting for clarity, and then the software constructs a 3D model. This model is the key to enabling your machines to execute tasks with unparalleled accuracy, making it indispensable for enhancing your line’s speed and precision.


Impact of Cobots
Image: Wikimedia Commons

Object Recognition & Tracking

3D vision enhances robots’ ability to identify and track objects, improving their interaction with the environment. This is particularly useful in roles like sorting and packing, where robots must accurately identify and handle different items.

Robot Navigation

These systems enable robots to perceive their surroundings in 3D, facilitating navigation through complex environments and avoiding obstacles. This proves invaluable in tasks like warehouse operations, where robots navigate around obstacles to locate and transport items.

Inspection & Quality Control

These systems excel at inspecting items for defects or deviations. For instance, they can measure the dimensions of manufactured products or identify flaws in finished goods, ensuring high-quality output.

Assembly Tasks

3D vision guides robots and other machines in assembling components. It aids in aligning parts accurately, ensuring they are in the correct positions. This is crucial in manufacturing processes where precision assembly is paramount.

These flexible and robust 3D vision systems play a vital role in various industries, including manufacturing, shipping, and healthcare. Their adaptability makes them indispensable tools for enhancing the performance and reliability of robots and other automated machines.

Image: Getty Images



3D vision systems are versatile tools utilized across various industries, including manufacturing, logistics, healthcare, and more. Here are some illustrative examples:


In manufacturing, 3D vision systems are frequently employed to verify product dimensions and assist in the assembly process. For example, they play a crucial role in ensuring manufactured parts are of the correct size and accurately positioned during assembly.


In logistics, 3D vision systems prove invaluable by aiding robots and automated systems in navigating efficiently within warehouses and enhancing object-handling capabilities. This optimization significantly improves the efficiency of tasks such as picking and placing items.


Within the healthcare sector, 3D vision systems play a crucial role in assisting various medical procedures, including surgery and imaging. These systems can guide robotic surgical tools and contribute to the creation of detailed 3D body images, aiding in accurate diagnoses.


Within the retail industry, 3D vision systems contribute to tasks like sorting and packing products. They enhance the capabilities of robots by enabling them to identify and track objects, resulting in more accurate and efficient picking and placing processes.

In a broader context, 3D vision systems prove to be valuable assets across numerous industries, substantially elevating the performance and reliability of robots and other automated systems.

material selection

How to Choose the Right 3D Vision System?


When selecting a 3D vision system, several factors require consideration. The accuracy and resolution of the cameras are crucial, as is the compatibility of the software with your specific requirements. Here’s a guide on choosing the right system:

Know What You Need

First, figure out exactly what you need from the 3D vision system. This will help you understand what features and abilities it should have and compare your options better.

Camera Quality

Begin by precisely defining your requirements for the 3D vision system. This initial step allows you to identify the necessary features and capabilities, enabling a more informed comparison of available options.

Software & Algorithms

Pay close attention to the software and algorithms employed for handling camera images – they play a crucial role. Seek systems that leverage advanced techniques, such as deep learning, to extract richer information from images, enhancing the overall functionality and performance of the system.

Suitability for Your Needs

Consider the compatibility of the 3D vision system with your specific task. If the environment is challenging, ensure the system is robust. For tasks requiring high speed, opt for a system with a quick frame rate and minimal delay.

In summary, selecting the appropriate 3D vision system involves evaluating your options to determine their alignment with your needs. Following these steps enables you to acquire a system that performs effectively, proving to be a worthwhile investment.

3D Printing Robot Arm
Image: Maria Teneva

The Key Advantage of 3D Vision


3D vision systems hold a significant advantage over their 2D counterparts, offering a more detailed and accurate perspective of the world. This heightened clarity enables robots and machines to interact more effectively with their surroundings, enhancing tasks such as object recognition and manipulation.

Moreover, 3D systems demonstrate versatility and resilience by adeptly managing diverse lighting and environmental conditions, further solidifying their robustness.



In summary, 3D vision systems stand out as invaluable technology, enabling robots and automated systems to perceive their surroundings in three dimensions. Applied in tasks ranging from robot navigation to object recognition and assembly, these systems play a versatile role.

In contrast to 2D vision systems, 3D systems provide a more detailed and accurate view, exhibiting adaptability across various lighting and environmental conditions. Collectively, 3D vision systems emerge as robust and flexible tools, significantly enhancing the performance and reliability of robots and automated systems.


About AMFG

AMFG is a leading provider of MES software for manufacturing. Our software solutions empower manufacturers, allowing them to manage their workflows and achieve streamlined, automated processes.

With over 500 successful implementations in 35 countries and across a range of industries, we specialize in enabling companies to successfully integrate our software for AM and CNC production, into their wider manufacturing processes and scale their operations.


Report by Danny Weller



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