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Automated Optical Sorting of Small Particles for Recycling

The main challenge for any optical identification and sorting technology in recycling applications is that the processed particles are of highly irregular shape and size. For example, when sorting shredded electronic scrap particles, a long, thin, single-stranded copper wire needs to be identified just as correctly as “copper” as does a randomly shaped piece of flat copper plate. Or, a heavily populated piece of a circuit board needs to be correctly identified even though proper identification is based on the specific color of the board (green, beige, blue, red, etc.) and not much surface area is available for inspection. In addition to the performance of hardware components such as the Basler camera, a large burden is placed on proprietary image processing software that is much more complex than an off-the-shelf machine vision software package for conventional inspection/sorting processes.

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