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More than Meets the Eye: 3 Advancements in Nano Measurement that Improved the Quality of Manufacturing

Posted by Mike Knicker on Aug 26, 2015 2:21:44 PM

More than Meets the Eye: 3 Advancements in Nano Measurement that Improved the Quality of Manufacturing

Nanotechnology has matured from science fiction into a burgeoning industry and, now, to a well-accepted component of modern manufacturing. Many people don't realize just how much nanotechnology is involved, not just for high-tech electronics and aerospace, but also for everyday applications such as adhesives, printing, and automobiles. 

As measurement capabilities have expanded from the micro to the nano scale, there has been a corresponding improvement in the quality of manufacturing across many types of industries.

3 Advancements in Nano Measurement

With the ability to provide faster, accurate results necessary to monitor quality for products requiring micro manufacturing, developments in nano measurement technologies have introduced new possibilities for manufacturers. Some of the ways that nano measurement has improved the quality of manufacturing include:

  1. Electronics - Nano measurement is commonly used for applications such as checking the size, shape, and position of solder bumps on printed circuits and determining the thickness ratios of thin films on microelectromechanical systems (MEMS).

  2. Solar cells - Analysis and quality control of solar cell manufacturing have also been improved by developments in nano measurement. Nanocrystal solar cells have a very thin coating based on silicon or a similar substrate that has a uniform coating on the surface of the cell. This coating can only be analyzed using nano measurement to confirm uniform thickness.

  3. Medical diagnostics - Advances in nano measurement are helping researchers develop medical diagnostic tools that are more sensitive and produce consistently reliable results. There are several potential applications for nano measurement in the medical field, including targeted therapy of cardiac diseases, quantitative detection devices for early diagnosis of cancer, and the development of implantable devices for in vivo diagnoses.

Because the field of nano technology is developing at an exponential level, selecting the right nano measurement device (or combination of devices) for a particular surface profilometrydimensional inspection, or reverse engineering application requires careful consideration to ensure that you receive relevant results in the necessary time frame and within your budget. The experts at Q-PLUS Labs will work closely with you to determine the best solution for you application. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

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Topics: nano measurement,, nano scanning,, nanoscale,

What Types of Data Can Be Obtained from Nano Measurement?

Posted by Mike Knicker on Aug 11, 2015 2:01:00 PM

What Types of Data Can Be Obtained from Nano Measurement

Dimensional inspection is employed to measure a broad range of sample types in almost every industry imaginable. This same versatility is required at the nano scale, which is why ongoing effort is put into the development of new measurement technologies.

The combination of stylus profilometers, chromatic confocal technology, interferometry, and other types of sensors enables the collection of multiple types of data at the nano level. The ability to use various sensor types, sometimes even for the same sample, makes measuring objects with varying characteristics possible. For example, although using a stylus profilometer to measure an object with a soft surface may not be possible, an optical sensor can solve the problem.

Types of Nano Measurements

Some of the types of measurements that can be obtained at the nano scale include:

  • Form -  Micro gears and other small parts require precision shapes and contours. Complex 2D and 3D geometry can be captured at the nano scale with sensors that capture and process point cloud data.

  • Roughness - Surface roughness is one of the most common applications for nano measurement. In this case, the type of measurement technology used will depend on the height difference between the highest and lowest points on the surface, whether the material is hard or soft, and the type of results required for the application in 2D or 3D.

  • Flatness - The flatness of a pane of glass or man-made sapphire can be measured, regardless of the reflectivity of the surface. When chromatic confocal technology is employed, even the flatness of the opposite side of the glass can also be measured through the translucent material.

  • Coplanarity - For a Ball Grid Array (BGA), the top of each solder ball needs to be coplanar with all the others so the mating component seats properly and all connections are made. The geometry of these parts can be measured and verified at the nano scale.

  • Roundness - Micro gears and other small parts require precision shapes and contours. The geometry of these parts can be measured and verified at the nano scale.

  • Thickness - The thickness of wafers, plastic films, and epoxy films are examples of applications for which nano measurement is often employed. With a chromatic confocal sensor, the thickness of translucent objects, like the glass face of a smartphone, can be determined.

These are not the only types of measurements that can be obtained at the nano scale. The use of multiple types of sensors and the ongoing development of new nano measurement technology are continually expanding the possibilities for manufacturers and researchers.

If you require any of these types of nano measurements, or if you're not sure what approach is needed, the experts at Q-PLUS Labs are here to help. We'll work closely with you through every step of the process to ensure that you get the best results for your application. Contact us anytime if you have questions, or when you're ready to get started.

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Topics: dimensional inspection, nano measurement,, nano scanning,, optical sensor, nanoscale,, surface finish analysis,

How Nano Measurement Can Benefit Surface Finish Analysis

Posted by Mike Knicker on Jun 16, 2015 2:09:16 PM

    How Nano Measurement Can Benefit Surface Finish Analysis

Surface finish analysis is one of the most common applications of nano measurement, primarily because this field requires a high level of precision. Specialized equipment is necessary because traditional dimensional inspection technology is not able to capture surface characteristics such as texture, sharpness, flatness, and wear at the nano level. In many applications, the surface conditions are not important, but in some cases they can affect functionality; therefore, meeting certain specifications is critical.

In the past, 2D surface finish profilometers were one of the only ways to collect data and deliver topographical information. Although this data is useful, it imposes limitations on manufacturers and engineers because they are not able to verify specifications for 3D surface finishes.

The availability of newer nano measurement technologies is changing the landscape of surface finish analysis, making it possible to achieve full 3D analysis.

Nano Measurement and Surface Finish Analysis

Some of the features that nano measurement equipment is able to capture include:

  • Profile roughness - The profile roughness gives you 2D information about the texture of a surface. The data is collected along a single line or extracted from an area data collection.

  • Surface roughness - In this case, the roughness is measured across the entire area of the surface. This obviously provides more information than profile roughness because the characteristics are not necessarily the same over the entire surface of the object.

  • Wear measurements - The data that is collected can be compared with an existing data set to determine the amount of surface wear that has occurred on a part. This is important for high-precision manufacturing and other applications in which surface features affect functionality.

  • Volume measurements - The volumes of peaks, holes, pits, and bumps can be determined at the nano level. Minute differences in surface topography can have a major impact in applications such as solder points on micro circuit boards or artificial hip implants.

  • Finding defects - Identifying surface defects such as blemishes, holes, or scratches is an important part of quality control. When these defects occur at the nano level, the impact in certain applications can be significant. New nano measurement technologies not only have made identifying these surface defects possible, but also allow it to be achieved quickly, which is important in a fast-paced manufacturing environment.

Using a combination of technologies, Q-PLUS Labs can deliver simple surface finish readings, full 3D analyses with visualizations, raw point cloud data, and even fully parametric 3D CAD models of very small and complex geometry at the nano level. If you are looking for a provider that offers a wide variety of high-precision nano measurement, contact us today to get started.

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Topics: nano measurement,, nano scanning,, nanoscale,, surface finish analysis,

3 Nano Measurement Basics

Posted by Mike Knicker on Jun 3, 2015 11:51:00 AM

3 Nano Measurement Basics

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

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.


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Topics: nano measurement,, nano scanning,, nanoscale,

How Nano Measurement Can Be Used in Dimensional Analysis

Posted by Mike Knicker on Apr 28, 2015 2:20:00 PM

How Nano Measurement Can Be Used in Dimensional Analysis

Dimensional analysis involves the comparison of a manufactured part or component to the specifications defined by engineering drawings, digital files and 3D CAD models, or a master tool or part. Historically, the scale of measurement capability has ranged from very large (airplane wings and automobile contours) to the micro level (printed circuit boards and micro electronics). However, as technology has evolved to include the development of manufacturing at the nano scale, dimensional analysis has needed to maintain the same pace.

Manufacturers and researchers have long been able to design parts with features or surface characteristics that can be specified at the nano level, but until recently, the technology did not exist to measure and validate at the same scale. The development of new equipment that uses a combination of different types of advanced technology to achieve greater accuracy at the nano scale is opening new doors for manufacturers to create the innovative products that they previously could not verify.

Nano Measurement in Dimensional Analysis

Some of the applications in which nano measurement can be applied in dimensional analysis include:

  • Precision valves
  • Medical blades
  • Orthodontics
  • Artificial joints
  • Inkjet cartridges
  • Printing and paper manufacturing

These are just a few examples of the many industries and applications that regularly use nano measurement to verify specifications, perform quality control tests, and reverse engineer parts.

Like other types of dimensional inspection, nano measurement can be performed to collect a broad range of data, including:

  • Surface roughness
  • Form
  • Flatness
  • Roundness
  • Sharpness
  • Step height
  • Wear
  • Texture
  • Defects

Results can be delivered in two or three dimensions, including full CAD renderings. Both contact and non-contact methods can be used, so almost any type of object can be effectively measured, including reflective surfaces.

In order to stay on the cutting edge of dimensional inspection, Q-PLUS Labs has kept pace with new nano measurement technologies. This means that we use the most advanced equipment available to provide accurate results with the highest resolution. If you are looking for outsourced nano measurement services, Q-PLUS Labs is an industry leader with a wide array of instruments and skilled professionals with expertise across many fields. Contact us today to learn more about our services.

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Topics: nano measurement,, nano scanning,, nanoscale,

Top 7 Applications that Benefit from Nano Measurement

Posted by Mike Knicker on Apr 14, 2015 12:45:00 PM

Top 7 Applications that Benefit from Nano Measurement

The development of new ways to measure objects and surfaces at the nano scale has allowed dimensional inspection providers to improve both accuracy and speed. It has also enabled the measurement of larger samples and objects with different surface types, as well as provide better 3D imaging capability.

Advances in nano measurement are interesting from a scientific perspective, but they also offer practical benefits in a number of different areas.

7 Applications that Benefit from Nano Measurement

Some of the applications that can benefit from better nano measurement include:

  1. Dental - Orthodontic brackets with very small features are difficult to accurately measure with contact probes and vision systems. The use of chromatic confocal technology enables better data collection because stylus size is not an issue, it measures in 3D without contacting the part, and the results are not impacted by reflectivity or translucence.
  2. Forensics - The ability to measure fibers and tool marks with greater accuracy gives forensics professionals better resources when processing evidence. Even specimens without parametric geometry (such as tissue samples) can be modeled in 3D.
  3. Microelectronics - Circuit boards at the micro and nano scale must be measured for quality control to ensure that the conducting path is consistent with specifications and that the wire bonds are correctly oriented. Because the samples are so sensitive, they must not be destroyed during the measurement process, which is why a non-contact system is the best solution.
  4. Medical - Artificial joints, implants, and other medical devices require highly accurate surface geometry to perform at their best. Measuring surface form and roughness at the nano scale ensures that the specifications are met. Nano measurement can also be used in the development and manufacturing of surgical instruments.
  5. Printing - Nano measurement is used to determine the surface roughness of different types of paper. It can also be employed to analyze printing results and detect errors.
  6. Tools and machining - Micro tools and components require a high level of accuracy to operate correctly. Nano measurement can be used for detecting tiny flaws in a micro gear, for measuring form, or for determining the amount of wear on a part.
  7. Material science - The ability to accurately measure a broad range of surface types at the nano scale, without risk of damaging the sample, is a valuable addition to the material science industry. Even materials with differing reflective properties can be measured with the same device.

The list of potential applications goes on and on. Automobiles, injection molding, and plastic films are just a few more examples of the types of industries, processes, and products that can benefit from new nano measurement technologies.

Q-PLUS can help you with your nano measurement needs. We regularly work with businesses in almost every type of industry, so no matter what your application is, we have the experience and expertise you need to get accurate results. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.

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Topics: dimensional measurement, dimensional inspection, nano measurement,, nano scanning,, nanoscale,, surface finish analysis,

4 Challenges 3D Scanning Solves in Today’s Medical/Manufacturing Industry

Posted by Mike Knicker on Mar 31, 2015 1:00:00 PM

4 Challenges 3D Scanning Solves in Today’s Medical/Manufacturing Industry

3D scanning has evolved over the years from a slow process with relatively low precision to much faster, highly accurate technologies. The result is the application of 3D scanning in multiple industries, including the manufacturing of medical devices, surgical instruments, and other equipment for the healthcare field.

The advent of light-based scanning systems made it possible to collect data about soft tissues without the risk of damaging them or affecting the accuracy of measurement results with a contact probe. This opened new doors in the medical world and helped solve many challenges.

4 Medical/Manufacturing Problems Solved by 3D Scanning

A few examples of the impact of 3D scanning on the medical industry include:

  1. Better-fitting prosthetic devices - The human body has few flat surfaces with regular angles. This means that the prosthetic devices traditionally designed for amputees were difficult to properly size, thus resulting in patient discomfort and limited functionality. The ability to create 3D models of the free-form shapes of the body enables manufacturers to create custom prosthetic devices that conform to each patient's body.
  2. Better-designed prosthetic devices - In addition to fitting well, many patients want a prosthetic device that looks like a natural body part. Before non-contact 3D scanning, physicians would make a cast of a body part and develop a CAD model that would be used to make a custom prosthesis. Non-contact 3D scanning has enabled much faster data collection and significantly improved accuracy.
  3. Reverse engineering device parts - As artificial joints and other medical devices age, the components sometimes must be repaired or replaced. If there is no existing CAD model to replicate it, 3D scanning can be employed to reverse engineer a new part that matches, or to detect wear.
  4. Inspection and validation of devices - High-precision manufacturing is critical for certain types of devices, often at a very small scale. For example, parts such as  micro-valves, stents, and venous filters must have no defects and conform to highly detailed engineering specifications. 3D scanning can be used in a manufacturing environment to provide quality control both in-line and in batch inspection applications. Because results can be produced relatively quickly, the technology is also well suited for process validation.

The potential applications for 3D scanning in the healthcare industry are limitless. If you work in the medical manufacturing industry and need an outsourced 3D scanning provider, get in touch with Q-PLUS Labs today. We are also an authorized reseller of multiple device types from many different manufacturers and can help you set up a new 3D scanning system in your own lab.


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Topics: nano measurement,, nano scanning,, nanoscale,

Behind the Scenes: 6 Key Factors to Consider for the 3D Scanning Process

Posted by Mike Knicker on Mar 17, 2015 1:04:00 PM

Behind the Scenes: 6 Key Factors to Consider for the 3D Scanning Process

When people engage outsourced 3D scanning services, they don't always know what happens behind the scenes. You might hand over your sample, describe the type of data output you need and leave the rest to the experts.

Although there isn't necessarily anything wrong with this scenario, the more you know about the 3D scanning process, the more you can be sure that the service you are getting is the best fit for your application.

6 Key Factors for the 3D Scanning Process

Some of the elements a provider considers when a sample is delivered for 3D scanning include:

  1. Type of information required - Different technology is used for various types of data. For example, you might use two different devices to produce a 3D rendering of the overall shape of a smartphone and to determine the thickness of the glass on its face.
  2. Characteristics of the object - If your sample is reflective, is magnetic, or has a particularly sensitive surface, there are certain types of measurement equipment that will not work for your application. In most cases, there is a viable solution to measuring almost any type of surface, but not all 3D scanning equipment works for every type of object.
  3. Level of accuracy required - If you are determining the surface characteristics of a basketball, there is a big difference between getting results with 3mm resolution and 3nm resolution. Your provider will need to know what level of accuracy it must achieve for your application in order to deliver appropriate results.
  4. Scanning speed - You might use different types of equipment depending on how quickly you need results and how accurate you need them to be. The more you share about the reasons for a 3D scanning project, the more likely you are to meet all of your internal criteria.
  5. Sample size - Every 3D scanning device has limitations on the size of object it is capable of measuring. Obviously, you can't use the same device to measure an airplane and a microchip, but even a laptop and a microchip might not fit in the same measurement envelope.
  6. Budget - There is no sense in paying for services that you don't need, so take the time to discuss both your measurement and budget goals with your provider. Using the basketball example from above, if you only need information at the millimeter scale, you shouldn't pay for results at the nanometer scale if it will cost more.

All of these factors (and more) are evaluated to determine which type of 3D scanning and which equipment model to use.

A good 3D scanning provider will walk you through every step of the process to make sure it knows exactly what you need before deciding which type of equipment to use for your project. Q-PLUS Labs is committed to providing both the best 3D scanning service and the best 3D scanning technology. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and see the difference for yourself.

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Topics: nano measurement,, nano scanning,, nanoscale,

Quantifying Quality: 4 Effects of Advances in Dimensional Inspection

Posted by Mike Knicker on Mar 3, 2015 12:30:00 PM

More than Meets the Eye: 3 Advancements in Nano Measurement that Improved the Quality of Manufacturing

Dimensional inspection is a continually evolving field that constantly faces and overcomes new challenges. Improvements in calibration and measurement processes, new technological developments, and an overall commitment to generating high-quality results all combine to produce positive effects that ripple throughout the industry.

4 Effects of Advances in Dimensional Inspection

Some of the ways that progress in the dimensional inspection field have produced an impact include:

  1. Better product quality - The ability to produce highly accurate results in less time has improved quality control in multiple manufacturing environments. Dimensional inspection allows manufacturers to quickly find defects and determine whether a part meets the required specifications. The result is overall better product quality in a broad range of industries.

  2. Improvements in the medical industry - Diagnostic tools, surgical instruments, artificial joints, orthodontic brackets, and prosthetic devices have all dramatically improved with the development of better 3D measurement and scanning technology from the micro level to the nano scale.

  3. More opportunities for nano manufacturing - Engineers have long been able to design parts with nano features, but the measurement technology had not existed to verify the manufacturing processes. New developments in the field of nano measurement are now making it possible for researchers to bring their innovations to life.

  4. Quality standards in global trade - Widely accepted dimensional inspection standards are being considered to develop a minimum technical barrier for free trade within the World Trade Organization. This global approach to quality control will help level the playing field for manufacturers and provide better products to consumers.

Q-PLUS Labs is committed to staying on the cutting edge of dimensional inspection technology and contributing to its positive effects on the manufacturing and medical industries. If you're new to dimensional inspection or simply want to ensure that you are maximizing your existing efforts, contact Q-PLUS Labs today. We'll evaluate your dimensional inspection needs and the steps you are currently taking to meet them. If we see room for improvement, we'll work closely with you to deliver the metrology products and services that best match your requirements.

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Topics: nano scanning,, nanoscale,