As a manufacturing executive or quality control director, you don't always need to understand the rigorous details of every procedure that occurs during or after the production process. In fact, the necessary steps are sometimes so specialized that outsourcing them to a qualified provider makes more sense. Dimensional inspection is a good example of this because of the level of expertise and different types of equipment that are required.
Dimensional measurement at the nano scale is a constantly evolving field. Although you might not need to know the intricacies of the technology, it helps to understand the basics.
3 Nano Measurement Basics for Manufacturers
Understanding the scale - A nanometer is one billionth of a meter. This is a simple definition but is difficult for many people to envision. If you change the scale to imagine Earth as one meter, a tennis ball would be the equivalent of a nanometer. You can also think of it in terms of the diameter of the head of a pin, which is typically about one millimeter, or one million nanometers.
With dimensional inspection, the devices that are used to measure small objects, even those at the micro scale, are not capable of accurately measuring at the nano scale. For example, you might be able to get accurate information about the contours of a pin, but you can't necessarily use the same device to determine its surface roughness.
Measuring with stylus profilometers - Contact-based measurement systems are used for a broad range of dimensional inspection applications, including some at the nano scale. High-precision contact measurement devices use a needle-shaped stylus that is dragged across the surface of the sample to gather point data, which can then be used to render a 2D cross-section or even a 3D surface with precision in the tens of nanometers. Contact styli rely on touch to gather data, which is not appropriate for all types of objects, especially those that are soft or could potentially be damaged during the measurement process.
Measuring with light - Light-based measuring devices can be employed to overcome the limitations of stylus profilometers. These do not rely on a physical stylus, but rather use different types of light, lenses, and sensors to collect measurement information. In general, light-based measurement systems are faster and more accurate than contact-based alternatives. Some devices can also measure reflective or transparent surfaces to determine, flatness, roughness, and other characteristics.
Higher-level manufacturing professionals must understand the limitations of nano measurement and that new technologies are emerging to overcome those limits. As both the speed and accuracy of nano measurement improve over time, new doors are constantly opening for innovators.
Most managers and executives find it too overwhelming or simply don't have the time to maintain a deep level knowledge about emerging technologies in nano measurement. This is why you rely on experts who are dedicated to staying current in their fields. If you want to learn more about nano measurement and how it might be applied in your business, contact the professionals at Q-PLUS Labs today.