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Machine Vision Case Studies

Clear Crushed Bottle Inspection Vision System

Machine Vision SystemsIdentifying clear crushed bottles with a camera is a challenge without an experienced integration team. Translucent objects are difficult for camera lenses to “see” and crushed bottles do not take a predictable shape. EPIC solved this challenge for a recent client, with a custom bottle inspection vision system integrated into their existing production line.  The system is capable of handling clear, frosted and opaque bottles of varying sizes with a budget friendly solution.

CLIENT: Fortune 500 Consumer Products Company

INDUSTRY: Consumer Products


  • High contrast lighting to enhance bottle detection
  • Backlighting with light control film to collimate light and create enhanced image contrast
  • Cognex In-Sight 5600 Camera
  • Patmax geometric pattern finding tool
  • Insight Explorer 4.7.0 for data collection
  • Crushed bottle reject


  • Budget-friendly solution for a challenging specification
  • Various sized bottles made of transparent, frosted or opaque materials are inspected on the same line
  • Bottle height, width, color and location of the defect fluctuate unpredictably
  • Clear plastic bottles are difficult to detect with a camera lens
  • Crushed bottles have a variable shape


Bottle Inspection Feasibility Testing

Machine Vision Clear Bottle InspectionThe client needed to eliminate crushed bottles on the manufacturing line, preventing them from being packed into cases or shipped to customers. A mix of bottles in different sizes, made from different materials, travel through the line. Bottles are translucent, frosted and/or made from dark, opaque colors. The client needed to verify the type of bottle passing through the vision system, based on the bottle material (clear, opaque, etc.). EPIC was further challenged by the client’s requirement of minimized line alterations during the crushed bottle detection.

A test camera, integrated with lighting structures, was arranged in the EPIC Vision Lab for vision specialists to test the feasibility of the bottle inspection solution. During this project evaluation stage, the vision specialists determine the lighting solution, camera angles, and required hardware. Pass/fail rates and costs were determined during this stage.

The test set-up allowed EPIC engineers to determine the following parameters for the final machine vision system:

  • Backlighting to create contrast and allow  bottle material determination
  • Light control film to increase defect contrast
  • A Cognex In-Sight 5600 Camera with Patmax to detect variously shaped bottles moving through the packaging line at various rates
  • Insight Explorer 4.7.0 programming by vision specialists to transmit bottle data from the camera to a database
  • Photo-eye integrated to trigger the camera when bottles pass through the system
  • in-line bottle reject system controlled by a PL

EPIC’s Proven Solution

The vision system parameters were agreed upon with the client and a PO issued. EPIC developed project schedules and completed a mechanical & electrical design review. The vision system was programmed and assembled in one of EPIC’s state-of-the-art vision labs. The crushed bottle inspection system was fully tested in the lab, and installed by EPIC on the client’s existing bottle line.

As bottles pass through the line, a photo-eye triggers the vision system for each bottle. Bottles pass in front of a backlight, creating a contrasted view of the bottle. If the contrast is black, the bottle is made of opaque material. If the contrast is grey, the bottle is frosted. If the light causes no contrast, the bottle is transparent. The Patmax geometric pattern finding tool identifies aspects of each bottle, including bottle height, width and asymmetrical features (if present).

The photo-eye triggers the camera to take individual snap shots of every bottle passing through the line. The smart camera processes the images inside the camera and data is recorded in a custom developed database. Data point outliers beyond the process control spectrum trigger a fail.. An in-line bottle reject will eliminate crushed or damaged bottles from the line before  the packaging area.


    • A low-budget solution that solves a hard-to-detect problem
    • Drastically reduced number of crushed bottles leaving the plant
    • Real-time bottle type verification


EPIC recommends practical solutions that work, using our manufacturing expertise and machine vision system knowledge.  EPIC believes we can help you “Do It Better” by:

    • Utilizing feasibility testing to ensure  the proper steps are taken during project scope development
    • Designing vision systems that are only as complicated as they need to be Applying our plant engineering experience to assist clients in identifying needs, pinpointing objectives and providing the most appropriate machine vision systems
    • Maintaining an open door client policy to promote innovation. We invite clients to visit EPIC to experiment with new processes, technologies and techniques that push the limits of traditional engineering.
    • Imparting a transfer of knowledge (not just a basic training) for the systems and equipment we provide
    • Appointing a single point of direct contact during the entirety of the project

Find a solution that is right for your company. Contact EPIC or learn more about bottle inspections or other custom machine vision systems.

EPIC Vision Systems
4134 Meramec Bottom Rd
St. Louis, MO 63129, US