VISTA is a measuring system for detecting defects and other features on transparent or highly reflective surfaces. So far, the technology “made in Salzburg” has been used in the ophthalmic lens industry. Spectacle lenses can be inspected and classified fully automatically, and the results are automatically documented. “However, the areas of application are versatile. From foils to ski goggles to window panes, everything is possible. Basically, we can work with anything that is transparent. Sample carriers in medical technology are also conceivable, for example. We are also still looking for partners who would like to use our technology for various applications,” says Michael Göbl. Anyone who would like to get in touch is welcome to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the right place at the right time
How does one actually come up with such an idea? “By chance, through a holiday acquaintance of our former owner Leo Stadlmayr, who unfortunately passed away two years ago. He met a manufacturer of spectacle lenses on a trip. He told us that spectacle lenses are still checked manually. Our research confirmed this,” says Michael Göbl. On an average production line, about 6,000 lenses are produced per day and each of them has to be taken by hand and checked for cosmetic defects such as scratches or dust inclusions. The optical properties that correct the defective vision can already be checked by machine. And so they came up with the idea of also developing an automation solution for cosmetic inspection.
“In January 2020, this idea came to me via our owner. We have already worked with various camera systems in the past. We thought that these could certainly also be used for spectacle lenses,” says Michael Göbl about the concretisation of VISTA. “Then we happened to read an article in the German Handelsblatt about the TU Braunschweig, which dealt with a similar topic. After a few tests, we got in touch with the university,” Göbl continues. So we started a series of tests with the TU Braunschweig, which confirmed that machine inspection on transparent objects is possible with cameras for surface inspection. The technology used (deflectometry) was originally developed for measuring highly reflective three-dimensional bodies. The adaptation of the measurement setup from reflection to transparency enables the detection of defects on the transparent medium glass.
“To develop a software application that is suitable for series production and high performance, we set up a small R&D department in-house,” Göbl reports. “In 2020, we started looking at the topic. In 2021, we were then ready to start development. And in 2022, we were finally able to set up the first prototype at a Swiss spectacle lens manufacturer. Here, we quickly achieved good results, finding close to 100 per cent of cosmetic defects,” Göbl continues. “In 2023, we were able to present VISTA to the professional audience at the MIDO international trade fair in Milan and were awarded the Salzburg WIKARUS business prize in the ‘Innovation’ category.”