As the IC chip passes by the OHDK 10, it is checked for bent or missing legs.

At about the size of a sugar cube, the OHDK 10 from Baumer Electric, Southington, Conn., is billed as the smallest, diffuse-background suppression laser sensor in the world. In the last few years, laser sensors have been used for more and more complex and demanding applications. Even small objects can be scanned by a very fine, visible beam with high reproducibility. New miniaturized OHDK 10 sensors, however, not only detect both fine objects and conventional targets, regardless of size, shape, color, or texture, they can go where larger laser sensors cannot.

Featuring a laser diode light source, the OHDK 10 can produce a pin-point light spot less than 0.2 mm at 40 mm from the sensor and reliable sensing from 100 mm away. The smart sensor constantly monitors its light output and self-adjusts for environmental conditions, compensating for characteristics of the laser diode that can change over time.

Unlike purely fixed focus sensors and those that require delicate sensitivity adjustments, the new sensors use a movable lens and multiple receivers for reflected light. This lets the OHDK 10 essentially change its geometry to locate a specific point in space where a target is to be detected and ignore a point in space where no object should be detected, regardless of reflectivity. Baumer calls this technique "true background suppression."

The new sensor is typically used in semiconductor, printed-circuit board, packaging, textile, printing and graphics, assembly, robotics, and pharmaceutical applications.