BreakThrough Interview

Developing the world's fastest 3D scanner which changes the structure of the manufacturing industry and all of society4D Sensor Inc Inc.


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The world's fastest 3D scanner was developed by 4D Sensor Inc., a venture corporation launched from Wakayama University. The scanner has been adopted by major automakers, construction companies, railway companies, and other companies. It contributes to increased productivity and operational efficiency at each company. We spoke with Director Yasutaka Irino regarding the strengths and possibilities of the 3D scanner, which is expected to be applied to the robotics field and used to solve social issues in the future.

Realizing "inspection while manufacturing" by scanning moving objects

Conventional 3D scanners have faced problems such as slow speed and the need for a stationary measurement target. The use of these scanners at manufacturing sites has been limited to tasks such as offline sample inspection. Theses problems were solved by 4D Sensor, a product developed by 4D Sensor Inc.

The term "4D" refers to adding time (t-axis) to the 3D x, y, and z axes. The scanner can perform ultra-high-speed scans of up to 50,000 scans per second. For example, it is possible to inspect all items without stopping the movement of items on the factory line. 4D Sensor Inc. has already established a system for inspecting items in upstream line processes in order to prevent defective items from being sent downstream. In other words, the sensor achieves a paradigm shift in manufacturing; specifically, the ability to perform inspection while manufacturing instead of inspection after manufacturing.

Furthermore, 4D sensor is useful in fields other than manufacturing./p>

"In terms of motion capture, we have solved the problems associated with conventional products, such using non-contact methods to measure movement of the human body and respiration in micron* units. Our technology has also been put to practical use as a tool developed at the request of a railway company. It performs high-accuracy real-time measurement for deflection of the railway bridge while the train is passing by."

Currently, the deterioration of various infrastructures with the passage of time has become a social problem in Japan. Therefore, expectations for 4D Sensor will increase even further in the future.
*1 micron is 0.001 mm.

Creating new value through a combination of patented technology, commercially available cameras, etc.

Sasha Seles, an employee of 4D Sensor Inc., explained how to use 4D Sensor. 4D Sensor Inc. possesses world-class technology and attracts human resources from various countries.

Generally speaking, ordinary commercially-available computers, projects, and digital cameras are used for the hardware of 4D Sensor. During measurement, the projector projects two types of grids on the target object, and the camera captures the moiré fringes* which are generated. A proprietary algorithm is used to calculate the height (z-axis) from the brightness. This makes 3D scanning possible with a 2D camera.

"Conventional 3D scanning using the phase shift method which requires taking anywhere from three to sixteen photographs of a stationary object. However, using our proprietary patented OPPA (One Pitch Phase Analysis) method, we need only one photograph and can scan even moving objects."

The speed, accuracy, etc., of 4D Scanner are determined by the performance of the camera and the distance to the target. Currently, the scanner can achieve an accuracy of about two digits (microns).
*A striped pattern created when regularly arranged patterns are laid on top of each other.

Expected for use as “the eyes of robots”

In the future society, 4D Sensor is also expected to be used as the eyes of robots.

"4D Sensor can sense moving objects in 3D and provide real-time feedback and control. These capabilities will lead to a leap in robot performance. In the manufacturing industry, 4D Sensor will enable automation of deburring and polishing. In the logistics industry, using 4D Sensor in the handling of materials* will enable even more advanced work."

The motto of 4D Sensor Inc. is "application to society." Since 4D Sensor Inc. started from seeds of innovation as a university venture, the key of the company is how to connect with the needs of society.

"In principle, 4D Sensor is customized to meet the needs of users. It can also be provided as a component of other measuring instruments. 4D Sensor Inc. is committed to assisting our users in finding new value from 3D scanning of moving objects."
*Abbreviation for material handling. Refers to transport and cargo handling by machines.

Company overview

4D Sensor Inc.

Yasutaka Irino, Director

Established in 2012 based on research at Wakayama University. 4D Sensor Inc. conducts research, development, manufacturing, and sales of high-speed and high-precision shape and deformation measuring equipment. By using its patented OPPA method, the company succeeded in developing the world's fastest and most accurate measuring device. 4D Sensor is equipped with this advanced technology and is continually updated for new applications.

company information

Coverage date December 23, 2019

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