Modern manufacturing requires continuous quality control to assure a constant quality. For highly automated processes, industrial 2D and 3D image processing methods are often used. In the recent years the need for 3D geometry measuring has increased significantly. Therefore, we present a photogrammetric stereo vision system, including hardware as well as software components, which is designed to measure the 3D shape of complex extruded plastic profiles online. Thus, the main challenge is to capture the profiles while they are moving and deforming at the same time. The profiles are measured at several defined points in time and the geometry of the front surfaces are extracted respectively. This enables us to reconstruct and evaluate the deformation and shaping process. Based on these results we are able to simulate the viscous flow of plastics in the extrusion process. The 3D geometry capturing and the simulation are repeated iteratively to generate reliable simulation input close to reality on the one hand and to optimize the extrusion tool and the involved mechanical parts on the other. Our work is primarily concerned with the 3D data acquisition. Thus, we particularly focus on the stereo matching procedures used and discuss the optimal, system specific configuration.© (2006) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.