With the rapid development of technology comes the greater need for the increased accuracy in measurement capabilities that are able to keep up with the pace of products being manufactured at the nano level. For precise accuracy up to the micrometer, such as 3D measurement data of a needle tip or surface roughness measured to extreme accuracy, nano measurement is the logical solution for these intricate measurements. But how do you know if it is worth your time to invest in this specific measurement solution for your application?
Of course, every measurement technique has its challenges, and with the various methods of nano measurement, there are generally three things to consider when choosing the best method for your application; specifically measurement accuracy, speed, and cost. While there are two main methods of acquiring nano measurement data, optical-based and contact-based, you will need to examine these three basic criteria when you are weighing your decision on which type of method to implement.
Accuracy of measurement
What benefit will this measurement data provide your application? To measure in the nano realm, there are two types of methods. One way is via contact-based methods of nano measurement which can give very high resolution measurements with high accuracy. This is due to the fact that they come in contact with the surface of the part being measured, so that certain features the probe comes in contact with can more easily be distinguish, and thereby measured accurately. However, parts that may become compromised if they come into direct contact with the measuring device would not be suited for this particular form of measurement.
This is only a general rule of thumb, however, as white light interferometry, a type of optical-based measurement, is one of the most accurate methods possible even though it does not come in contact with the measured unit.
Speed of measurement
If you are looking for a faster measurement solution, an optical-based method of nano measurement may be the best option, because this method uses light to take the measurement and does not physically come into contact with the surface that it is measuring. This process speeds up the collection of measurement data without the risk of surface damage, unlike what can be experienced with a probe used in the contact-based methods.
One drawback of these faster methods of measurement may be the loss of some resolution on surfaces with high aspect ratios; such as a surface with features such as steps, slopes, holes or sharp edges. These can be much more accurately measured with a contact-based method, but this will be more time consuming in order to protect the surface of the piece being measured.
Cost to measure
Of course different measurement systems will have different financial costs associated with them, and this will have to be weighed when choosing the right system to meet your needs. When making your decision on accuracy, precision, and speed you will need to keep in mind how much the measurement data will cost. Along these lines, the following are some things to consider:
- Will it be more cost efficient to purchase the equipment to perform your measurements in-house; or would it be better to outsource this activity to a lab that specializes in these measurements? If you manufacture a part in-house and need to perform repeated measurements, then it might be in your best interest to invest in the equipment and training necessary to do the measurements yourself.
- A major benefit of going to a lab for your measurement needs is the specialization that they have in performing these measurements with the appropriate training, experience and equipment to give you the data you need. Labs are fairly flexible and can be great assets for measurements of one-off parts as well as large ongoing jobs.
While you can make some adjustments to reduce the cost per part, such as reducing the sample frequency of measurements, ensuring that you get exactly the type of measurements for the data you are looking for is one of the best ways to reduce your cost overall.
Having difficulty getting started on your measurement project? Since 1987, Q-PLUS Labs has provided a one stop solution for precision measurements to our customers. As a leading dimensional measurement laboratory, we have been able to not only supply measurement services and calibrations as needed but also consult on, specify, integrate, and sell in-house measurement solutions to meet the many and varying needs of the manufacturing industry. As a lab registered to ISO 9001 and accredited to ISO 17025, we've built our reputation on providing objective, unbiased information whether it be from our lab services department or our metrology products division.