Area Scan Camera Vs. Line Scan Camera: Which One Should You Choose?

Area Scan Camera Vs. Line Scan Camera: Which One Should You Choose?

2022-07-06 10:12:31

Product management requires safety and quality assurance tools so that every new item manufactured is up to the highest qualities of your brand. One of the critical tools to ensure quality is having an industrial camera along your production line. 


Two of the primary types for this purpose are area scan cameras and line scan cameras. Knowing the difference between the two will eliminate your confusion and help you get the correct equipment, which is essential to enhance your production efficiency.


What Are Industrial Line & Area Scan Cameras?

Most manufacturers use two different types of industrial cameras: line scan cameras and area scan cameras.


A line scan camera captures a single row, or “strip” of pixels in a single shot as something moves beneath the camera, or the camera itself is moved along a line. It takes hundreds of 1-dimensional photos and then merges them into a complete image in the industrial computer. Think of this as scanning a text document. A line scan camera would capture a row of content at a time.


An area scan camera is different. Instead of focusing on a single line at a time, it captures still photos of a predetermined two-dimensional area. Compared with line scan cameras, an area scan camera takes a single picture of the entire package at once as it moves beneath it.



Line Scan Cameras Vs. Area Scan Cameras

Choosing one camera over the other will depend on the services and products you use in production. Each industrial camera has its pros and cons. Let’s discuss them from the following aspects:


  • Resolution: 

It is hard to imagine the resolution difference because a line scan camera does not calculate resolution like most consumers. An area camera captures a predetermined area, like 2,000 pixels by 2,000 pixels. A line scan camera would be 1 x 2,000 and then have to merge all the photos. For example, you can get a line scan camera with a resolution frame rate of 8,240x1@70kx1 and an area scan camera at 5,120 x 5,120 @30FPS.

  • Shutter: 

Industrial area scan cameras use a global or rolling shutter. A rolling shutter captures different lines at different times (think a wave), unlike a global shutter which captures all pixels in an area at the same time. However, no electronic shutter is possible for line scan cameras.

  • Scanning Method: 

An area scan camera does not need to move. Instead, objects are typically moved beneath the camera. A line scan camera can move independently as it captures rows or has an object move towards it. Since the line scan camera scans in rows instead of the whole object, it can be placed close to the object, contributing to a more compact structure.

  • Scanning Objects: 

You can only capture a planar (two-dimensional) object with an area scan camera. However, a line scan camera can capture both planar and non-planar because it can assemble the total image later. Therefore, the line scan camera is the best option for scanning the rotating objects in a cylindrical shape.


Pros & Cons of Area Scan Cameras and Line Scan Cameras 

Both types of cameras offer a lot of quality care and verification capabilities to a production line. Some companies may even use combinations of both at different sections of their lines to ensure product quality before shipping to clients. The benefits of each camera are:

  1. Area Scan Cameras:
  • Capture the shape, size, and dimensions of a 2D object in 3D space
  • High flexibility
  • Less moving parts tomaintain
  • High shuttering speed

The only downside is they can only scan the planar objects that are not too large. According to the above features, area scan cameras are suitable for wide applications, such as visual positioning, dimensional measurement, target recognition, and product inspection on assembly lines.

  1. Line Scan Cameras:
  • Inspect continuous and uniformmovement of materials such as plastics, paper, and fibers
  • Works exceptionally well with production lines involving non-planar products
  • Far more precise and captures each line of pixels
  • Compact structure

However, if you do not sync the camera up perfectly to what is moving beneath it, there could be blurring or errors. According to the above features, line scan cameras perfectly work in industrial production/medical research/scientific research/surveillance, inspecting continuous materials such as metal, plastic, paper, and fiber. These products are usually in constant motion and are scanned by one or more line scan cameras. The purpose of applying the line scan cameras is to have a full inspection of the product’s surface. 


Where to Find Quality Industrial Cameras


If you want to expand your quality control, specification assurance, or remove errors from your production line, using an area or line scan camera is the best place to start. We at SmartMoreInside are always ready to help the rigorous you.


With more than 20 years of in-depth research and innovation, SmartMoreInside has the imaging solutions necessary to revolutionize, automate, and enhance your production line and manufacturing capabilities. Connect with our team members today and experience the powerful benefits of area scan cameras and line scan cameras!

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