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Vision Engineering Ltd 60 year anniversary logo

Vision Engineering Celebrates 60 years with Clear Focus on the Future

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Vision Engineering reaches a milestone this month, celebrating 60 years of manufacturing inspection and non-contact measurement systems. The privately held company was founded in the UK in 1958 by Rob Freeman, a tool-maker with the Jaguar racing team. While at Jaguar, Rob developed a borescope for inspecting internal race engine parts without the need for disassembly. Rob’s engineering background and drive to design solutions, set the foundation for Vision Engineering’s success.

Renown for inventing Mantis, the world’s first eyepiece-less stereo microscope, Vision Engineering holds several world patents for the optical technology used in their inspection and metrology systems. Mantis was launched nearly 25 years ago as a solution to address the issues microscope operators face. The Mantis design allows users to retain a natural viewing posture when using a microscope so they are more comfortable and able to work for longer periods of time without neck strain or eye fatigue. Mantis is used across the world in electronics, medical device, packaging, automotive and aerospace industries and for any application requiring inspection and rework.

The importance of ergonomics in microscopy was pioneered by Vision Engineering and Mantis. Mantis has evolved significantly since its original design and Vision Engineering is currently manufacturing the 4th generation Mantis. In 1994 Mantis manufacturing moved to Connecticut, USA, where it is still manufactured today.

The company attributes their success to innovation and developing new technology to improve quality in manufacturing, by inspection and measurement. Mark Curtis, Managing Director, Vision Engineering explains,

Significant R&D investment in optical and digital technology continues with recent patented technological breakthroughs heralding the next step in innovation and market penetration for Vision Engineering”

Vision Engineering has come a long way since 1958, from its humble beginnings in a workshop with a dozen employees. In June 2017 an 84,000ft2 Global Headquarters opened in Send, Woking, United Kingdom. Vision Engineering now employs more than 220 people worldwide.

TVM field of view measurement system

New TVM instant FOV measurement system launched at Control, Stuttgart

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A new fast and flexible field of view measurement for quality assurance

Vision Engineering will showcase its new TVM Field of View (FOV) video measurement systems at Control, Stuttgart Exhibition Centre [Hall 7 Booth 7400]. The system combines time-saving instant field of view measurements with versatile measurement tools that cater to the needs of operators on the shop floor.

The system’s small footprint saves space in the workshop or laboratory, while TVM’s exceptional ease of use eliminates operator errors and significantly reduces time, providing a valuable asset for a wide range of quality assurance applications, such as instant go/no go assessments.

TVM20 and TVM35 video measurement systems

As with other measurement and inspection systems from Vision Engineering, the TVM systems can be configured to suit specific applications. The fixed stage FOV system enables instant, accurate measurements of small components, while the addition of a manually-controlled stage extends measurement for larger components up to 200mm x 100mm.

The combination of a flat field telecentric lens and collimated sub-stage lighting facilitates TVM’s measurement of components of any shape or form, including turned parts, pressed metal components, injection moulded plastics, tubes and cables.

TVM series comprises of two systems, TVM20 and TVM35, with field of view (FOV) sizes of 20mm and 35mm respectively. Both systems are designed to meet rigorous quality assurance applications in electronics, automotive, aerospace, medical and plastics manufacturing: offering rapid, accurate non-contact measurement. Components can be instantly measured within the field of view, with no need to adjust the focus or change the position of the subject under inspection.

TVM’s comprehensive, user-friendly software supports a broad range of applications delivering the precision and clarity that would be expected from expensive high end video measurement systems. The rich suite of features includes simple data import/export, image stitching and reporting facilities.

Built on Vision Engineering’s sixty years of optical inspection and metrology expertise, the TVM 20 and TVM 35 are precision-manufactured in the UK at Vision Engineering’s new global headquarters.

Commenting on the launch of the TVM series, Mark Curtis, Managing Director of Vision Engineering said:

We’ve listened to our customers and combined the best parts of our existing metrology range into a compact system that really offers fast and flexible measurement to meet the needs of QC/QA requirements. This marks a new era of high accuracy field of view measuring.”

EVO Cam II digital microscope in the workshop

EVO Cam II, next generation of high definition digital microscope

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The next generation of the extremely popular EVO Cam digital microscope has been launched. Excellent image quality, intuitive operation and a host of new features are available at your fingertips with Vision Engineering’s new EVO Cam II.

Ideally suited for close inspection and recording of high resolution images the next-generation EVO Cam II benefits from the addition of user customisable overlays, on-board measurement and Wi-Fi image transfer. All supported by a 30:1 optical zoom and a maximum magnification of up to 3,600x.

EVO Cam II replaces the original EVO Cam which is already used for inspection of electronics, medical devices, precision engineering, life sciences and much more.

EVO Cam II digital microscope inspecting metal tools

High definition images can be captured and stored directly to a USB memory stick. When connected to a PC, images and video can be easily captured, stored and shared. A Wi-Fi dongle even allows direct sharing with PCs, laptops, tablet computers and smartphones.

Simple on-screen measurement can be performed with the aid of virtual callipers and scalable grids. Live images can also be compared to user customisable overlays, increasing efficiency of use.

A completely new graphical user interface and intuitive controls with 10 presets, allow for rapid swapping out of subjects under inspection, making EVO Cam II ideal for multiple users in high speed production environments. A remote control option is available to maximise the ergonomic operation of the microscope when used over prolonged periods.

EVO Cam II features a powerful LED ring light and sub-stage lighting for viewing translucent samples. A UV ring light accessory is also available for electronic and other specific applications. High contrast subjects, such as reflective metals used in electronics and automotive manufacturing can be viewed in more detail using EVO Cam II’s Wide Dynamic Range (WDR) mode.

For additional clarity, EVO Cam II is launched along with a new range of objective lenses to deliver pin sharp images, high in detail and contrast. Vision Engineering’s unique 360° rotating viewer is ideal for hard to handle subjects, delivering direct and 34° angled views, which can be rotated 360° around the point of interest, allowing inspection of the sides and base of samples.

Mark Curtis, Managing Director, Vision Engineering said:

We are excited to complement our Mantis and Lynx EVO eyepiece-less stereo microscope range with the EVO Cam II. This new digital microscope offers exceptional image quality for inspection, research and manipulation, and can be utilised for thousands of inspection tasks.”

CamBeta handheld digital magnifier

Inspect where you want with new Camβ digital magnifier

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Introducing Camβ (CamBeta) – a new digital inspection magnifier for portable inspection and documentation. The new magnifier is a handheld inspection device, suitable for a wide range of applications. Camβ provides magnification up to 20x, stores up to 20,000 images and uses grids and cursors for X & Y dimensioning, simply where you want, when you want.

CamBeta handheld digital magnifier for machine inspection

With a high resolution colour display, easy button operation and image capture/download capability, Camβ is ideal for roaming inspection tasks, documenting faults and inspecting large or immobile subjects. Camβ has been equipped with a dual LED illumination, with 4 settings; high contrast imaging and 30 frames video capture capabilities. A live-view video output via micro HDMI allows for the display of images on a larger screen suitable for training purposes.

Camβ offers a convenient way of meeting critical inspection and documentation requirements. The simple design of the Camβ helps to optimise the inspection process, as it requires minimal training to ensure all users can adequately perform their job. When time is of the essence the portable design of the Camβ also helps to speed up the process of inspection and decision making for operators.

The Camβ is well suited in production environments where company policy disallows the use of mobile phones. Its lightweight and ergonomic design is superior to that of a smartphone, with one-handed operation making the Camβ easy to manage and manipulate. The handle of the Camβ also provides a secure grip allowing it to be used with either a left or right hand, to suit.

Camβ is ideal for a number of applications such as electronics, mechanical, automotive, watchmaking, plastics engineering, medical and ultimately wherever fast digital documentation is needed – in one step, using one tool!

Rob Freeman

Vision Engineering saddened by loss of founder Rob Freeman, MBE

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Vision Engineering Ltd is saddened by the loss of founder Rob Freeman, MBE, who passed away on 19th August, aged 84.

Rob Freeman, born in 1933 in Singapore, grew up in Woking, Surrey and was a toolmaker who worked as a race mechanic with the Jaguar Racing team in the 1950s. He developed a borescope that enabled internal race engine components to be inspected, without taking the engine apart. This innovation led to the foundation of Vision Engineering in 1958.

In 1996, Rob was awarded the MBE, in recognition of his services to the British optical industry.

Rob_Freeman_MBE_Vision_Engineering_Chairman

On 13th June 2017, Rob Freeman presided over the opening of the Freeman Building, Vision Engineering’s purpose-built global headquarters, manufacturing and R&D facility, in Send, Woking, UK. The new building, close to the site of the original 1950s factory, is named after Rob Freeman and was officially opened by Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Surrey and the Mayor of Guildford.

Mark Curtis, managing director, on behalf of the staff of Vision Engineering, commented:

“We are extremely saddened by the death of our company founder, Rob Freeman. He was a true pioneer of engineering who learnt his trade during the glory days of British car racing and aerospace and whose dynamism, grit and ingenuity created a thriving business, which continues to grow and innovate today.

Rob enjoyed a challenge and was an early leader in the development of overseas technical markets, to the point where 92% of the company’s turnover comes from export. It was a great privilege and pleasure to work with him and we are glad that he was able to see the completion of the building dedicated to his legacy. We extend our deepest sympathies to Rob’s family, colleagues and many friends, who remember him with great fondness.”

The company is now an award-winning manufacturer holding several patents for its ergonomic microscopes and measurement systems, which are used extensively by manufacturers in the electronics, automotive and aerospace industries.

Obituary: Rob Freeman, MBE, founder of Vision Engineering Ltd

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Rob Freeman, MBE, company founder and innovator of ergonomic microscopes and measurement systems, sadly passed away on 19th August, aged 84.

Send, Woking,  21st August 2017: Vision Engineering Ltd, a manufacturer of ground-breaking ergonomic microscopes and measurement systems, has announced that its founder and chairman, Rob Freeman, MBE, passed away on 19th August, aged 84.

Rob Freeman, born in 1933 in Singapore, grew up in Woking, Surrey and was a toolmaker who worked as a race mechanic with the Jaguar Racing team in the 1950s. He developed a borescope that enabled internal race engine components to be inspected, without taking the engine apart. This innovation led to the foundation of Vision Engineering in 1958.

The company is now an award-winning manufacturer holding several patents for its ergonomic microscopes and measurement systems, which are used extensively by manufacturers in the electronics, automotive and aerospace industries. The company has grown to be a global leader in its field and employs more than 220 staff worldwide, with offices across Europe, North America, Mexico, China, India and Japan.

In 1996, Rob was awarded the MBE, in recognition of his services to the British optical industry.

On 13th June 2017, Rob Freeman presided over the opening of the Freeman Building, Vision Engineering’s purpose-built global headquarters, manufacturing and R&D facility, in Send, Woking, UK. The new building, close to the site of the original 1950s factory, is named after Rob Freeman and was officially opened by Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Surrey and the Mayor of Guildford.

Mark Curtis, managing director, on behalf of the staff of Vision Engineering, commented:

We are extremely saddened by the death of our company founder, Rob Freeman. He was a true pioneer of engineering who learnt his trade during the glory days of British car racing and aerospace and whose dynamism, grit and ingenuity created a thriving business, which continues to grow and innovate today.

Rob enjoyed a challenge and was an early leader in the development of overseas technical markets, to the point where 92% of the company’s turnover comes from export. It was a great privilege and pleasure to work with him and we are glad that he was able to see the completion of the building dedicated to his legacy. We extend our deepest sympathies to Rob’s family, colleagues and many friends, who remember him with great fondness.”

Vision Engineering holds several patents on its high-tech optical and digital systems, which it supplies to organisations all over the world in the automotive, aerospace, electronics, medical and telecoms manufacturing sectors, which require high specification, ergonomic inspection and measurement systems.

The company achieved the Queen’s Award for Technology in 1974 and the Queen’s Award for Export in 1991.

Employing 120 people at its headquarters in Send near Guildford and more than 220 staff worldwide, as well as a fully trained global distribution network, Vision Engineering is the only manufacturer of stereo microscopes in the UK. Vision Engineering is also a world leader in digital and measurement technologies and exports 92 % of the products developed and manufactured at its new, purpose-built facility, the Freeman Building and at its sister facility in Connecticut USA.

Swift PRO Duo metrology system

Control fair to showcase new Vision Engineering metrology systems

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Enabling new capabilities

At this years Control show in Stuttgart, Germany, Vision Engineering will be showcasing their latest range of metrology systems – Swift PRO (Duo, Cam and Elite).

Swift PRO is a powerful yet easy & simple to operate range of non-contact measuring systems. Combining the latest optical and video measurement technologies, the Swift PRO is the right tool for a broad range of applications from electronics and aerospace to plastic and medical parts manufacturing where reporting and quality control is in demand.

Swift-Pro-non-contact-measuring-system-of-precision-parts

Thanks to its design, fast & accurate 3-axis measurement, and user friendly interface the Swift PRO provides shop floor operators with quick and easy way of measuring components and reporting. With simplicity at its core the system can be used by shift workers or advanced users requiring only a minimal training. This decrease significantly staff costs and reduces operator errors.

Swift PRO feature-rich software is easy to learn and operate, providing instant profile and surface measurement, advanced reporting and basic system control. Previously difficult to view samples can be measured more accurately with a new HD video camera with Video Edge Detection (VED), and fully dimmable stage illumination. Measuring stages, 200mm x 100mm and 150mm x 100mm, provide up to 5μm accuracy and come with a choice of either robust QC3000 controller/microprocessor or easy to use PC software offering flexibility and small footprints.

Swift PRO Duo

Swift PRO Duo is the only video measuring system to incorporate an ergonomic measuring microscope. Combined video & microscope technologies allows for seamless switching between video and microscope measurement. The patented optical viewer offers high resolution surface inspection.

Swift PRO Cam

Swift PRO Cam is the perfect entry-level video measuring and inspection system. With its HD video camera and large measuring stage the Swift PRO Cam the system operator can simply “place & measure” a wide range of precision parts.

Swift PRO Elite

Swift PRO Elite is a simple optical measuring microscope providing accurate measurement even for notorious difficult subjects such as black or transparent plastics. Patented optical viewer (head) clearly defines edges and offers superb resolution and true-colour images. Swift PRO Elite employs a high stability stand with a precision engineered bearing assembly to optimise X, Y measurements at different plane heights.

Outstanding ergonomics with eyepiece-less technology

The new Swift PRO Duo and Elite incorporates patented Dynascope® technology. This technology removes the need for conventional microscope eyepieces, offering the user a superior image of the subject and allows operators to take accurate measurements whilst wearing prescriptive glasses, safety goggles and contact lenses. Other technology benefits include a large field of view and peripheral vision.

Lynx EVO wins microscopy today 2016 award

Lynx EVO Stereo Microscope Wins the 2016 Innovation Award

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Vision Engineering’s Lynx EVO eyepiece‐less stereo microscope has won the 2016 Microscopy Today Innovation Award for its advanced, patented and ergonomically designed viewer and unrivalled 3D imaging.

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The new Lynx EVO represents the pinnacle of a long-running investment by Vision Engineering to create the ultimate high productivity eyepiece-less stereo microscope.

Lynx EVO shows what can be achieved when the focus is creating a stereo microscope that is truly ergonomic – and easy to use. The patented eyepiece-less design removes the need for conventional microscope eyepieces, helping operators overcome the ergonomic challenges faced with traditional binocular microscope design, including neck and back strain, and eye fatigue.

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The ergonomic advantage

Lynx EVO is a true optical stereo microscope. High resolution, true-colour optical images are viewed through an ergonomic eyepiece-less viewing head, permitting unrivalled freedom of head movement. Lynx EVO even allows users to wear prescription glasses at the time of (specimen) inspection or where safety goggles are required. With stunning 3D viewing and a high technical specification (10:1 zoom, 240x max. magnification), the new Lynx EVO suits all applications where speed, accuracy and efficiency are demanded – over extended periods of use.

Innovation-award-winning-lynx-evo-stereo-microscope-v2-600px

Power your productivity

Stephen Sanderson, International Product Manager at Vision Engineering, explains:

by improving user ergonomics, Lynx EVO allows operators to work more efficiently and effectively, maintaining high levels of accuracy for prolonged periods. The user benefits from significantly improved comfort and the company benefits from improved quality and productivity.”

Read more about Lynx EVO »

Free Electronics webinars

Learn from the experts with our FREE Electronics Academy Webinar Series

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Vision Engineering has teamed up with industry-expert Bob Willis to bring you a FREE Electronics Academy Webinar Series, taking an in-depth look at the issues affecting PCB/SMT assembly and the challenges of achieving Zero Defect Manufacture.

Covering a range of topics from Solder Joint Inspection to Counterfeit Component Detection, the free webinar series is a great way to gain valuable insight and learn expert tips to identify quality issues and understand the common causes of solder joint failure.

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Thursday 16th June
Solder Joint Inspection & Process Defects

Wednesday 29th June 2016
Counterfeit Component Inspection & Detection

Thursday 21st July 2016
Conformal Coating Inspection & Coating Faults

Thursday 15th September 2016
Crimp Connector Inspection & Quality Control

Wednesday 12th October 2016
Printed Circuit Board Inspection & Quality Control

Thursday 10th November 2016
Inspection of Conductive Adhesive Joints

In the first webinar, Bob will explain the best ways to inspect solder joints on conventional and surface mount assemblies with reference to international standards (e.g. IPC 610 and IPC J-STD-001). In addition, the webinar will illustrate some of the most common joint failures, why they occur and the corrective action required.

Places are limited, so sign-up now »

About Bob Willis

Bob Willis is a globally-recognised expert in surface mount and area array technology, providing training and consultancy to electronics manufacturers worldwide for the past 30 years.

He is a Fellow of the Institute Circuit Technology, an NVQ Assessor, Member of the SMART Group Technical Committee, Member of the Institute of Quality Assurance and Society of Environmental Test Engineers.

Bob regularly speaks at international events, providing expert knowledge to improve skills and knowledge for electronics production staff and engineers.

Lynx EVO eyepiece-less stereo microscope

New Lynx EVO pushes the boundaries of stereo inspection

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Lynx EVO is a new high productivity stereo microscope without eyepieces, powering your productivity through stunning 3D (stereo) imaging and unrivalled ergonomics.

Building on the strengths of its market-leading predecessor, Lynx EVO eliminates the difficulty and strains of using ‘eyepiece’ stereo microscopes, significantly improving ease of use and operator comfort, driving quality improvements and reduced costs.

The patented eyepiece-less design of Lynx EVO promotes simple hand-eye co-ordination, critical for precision inspection tasks, re-work, repair and other manipulation activities.

Operators can maintain the highest levels of performance, even across an entire shift.

Lynx-EVO-stereo-microscope-1604-181-500px

Benefiting from a high optical specification, the 10:1 zoom ratio with long working distances provides users the ability to inspect up to 120x magnification (6x – 60x standard), ideal for a wide range of applications.

The modularity of Lynx EVO system provides unlimited versatility, and making use of the integrated HD camera with software makes training and reporting quick and easy.

Mark Curtis, Managing Director said:

 “The new Lynx EVO is the most advanced eyepiece-less stereo microscope we’ve ever produced, helping businesses overcome the daily challenges of increasing quality demands, smaller components, greater efficiencies and accuracies.“

Why not experience the eyepiece-less Lynx EVO stereo microscope for yourself? From May 5th 2015, Lynx EVO will be appearing at numerous tradeshows worldwide, including Control (Stuttgart), SMT (Nuremberg) and Plast (Milan).