An optical–digital approach to the problem of automatic detection of dents and scratches on specular or semispecular surfaces is presented. The method uses the optical reflecting properties of dents and scratches to locate and detect them. Dents are found by a grid projection and encoding technique; scratches are found by using the property that diffuse reflectors scatter over a wider angle (Lambert’s law) than specular ones and, therefore, seem brighter when viewed at certain angles. The procedure for finding dents and scratches was found to be very robust: dents as small as 1% of the viewed field and 0.0053 cm (0.0021 in.) deep and scratches as small as 0.003 cm (0.001 in.) wide and 0.00064 cm (0.00025 in.) deep and of variable minimum length were easily detected using nonspecially prepared samples.
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