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Laser-Based Imaging System Maps 3D Surfaces Remotely for Manufacturing Applications
Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have demonstrated a laser-based imaging system that creates high-definition 3D maps of surfaces from as far away as 10.5 meters. The method could be useful in diverse fields, including precision machining and assembly, along with forensics. The 3D mapping system combines a form of laser detection and ranging (LADAR), which is sensitive enough to detect weak reflected light, with the ranging accuracy made possible by frequency combs. The frequency comb, a tool for precisely measuring different frequencies of light, is used to continuously calibrate the laser in the imaging system. The system has wide dynamic range, enabling precise 3D mapping of targets with varied surface types and reflective properties. NIST researchers demonstrated the range by scanning footprints in soil, vegetation such as cactus, and complex mechanical devices such as a piston for a motorcycle. This short video shows a detailed image of a shoe sole as mapped by the system from 10.5 meters away. The colors indicate distance, with blue/purple indicating shorter distances (or higher areas of the shoe sole) and red/brown longer distances.
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