Through cooperation between science and business, the PRONTO production platform in the leading-edge cluster microTEC Südwest enables cost-effective and time-efficient prototypes and small series production. Application-specific microcameras are feasible in small quantities by ensuring their construction is adjusted to the task in question as precisely and as simply as possible.
Subject to contradictory conditions – simple design but sufficient performance – the application-specific optics must consist of single lenses or a maximum of two lenses. This minimal approach, which causes low stray light and low installation effort, and allows the use of high dynamic-range image sensors, is based on aspherical surfaces and high f-numbers. To achieve this, aspherical lenses (3mm diameter, up to 580 diopters) were calculated from polycarbonate, created by hot stamping and grouped into plastic sleeves that were created by rapid prototyping at Hahn-Schickard. The sleeves also have constructive-mechanical details such as brackets or channels and can be installed in metal frames. It was possible to achieve the required image quality with the respective aspherical lenses for four different demonstrators - three-finger gripper for robots; drop measurement at the dispenser; location detection in the indoor area and endoscopic pipe inspection. We also added space-saving LED lights (up to 2.2 cd) - in the case of drop measurement with projecting optical path and a second lens. Since the end of the project, the project partners continue to install the lenses in microcameras (6.3 mm external diameter), along with innovative image sensors, for deployment in industrial fields. Depth of field areas, depending on the task: 10 to 30 mm or 50 mm to infinity. Even smaller lenses with up to 1300 diopters are currently being designed.