3D Surface Metrology Applications

Non-contact 3D Surface Metrology

3D surface metrology describes the measurement and characterization of micro- and nano-scale features on natural or manufactured surfaces. This can be achieved very efficiently by capturing the 3D spatial coordinates of points on a surface using a non-destructive optical technique.

Optical surface profilers have some crucial advantages over tactile (stylus-based) approaches. First and foremost, the measurement is non-contact, so no damage can occur to the object being measured. Optical techniques can measure through transparent media. They are fast and flexible, and they also yield 3D (areal) results. Last but not least, absolute measurement performance is dependent upon wavelength and numerical aperture, without the limitations imposed by the physical size of a stylus tip.

The most common optical techniques available are confocal, interferometry and focus variation. Each of these has their own particular set of strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, in order to provide the user with maximum versatility for 3D surface measurements across varying scales and structure types, Sensofar Metrology’s high-end optical profiler systems uniquely incorporate the three most common optical techniques in a single sensor head.

While still fragmented, the rapid growth in this applications space is in part due to the capture of market share from the often inherently slow and ‘2D only’ tactile approaches. However, an increasingly dominant element is the ‘enabler’ aspect of an optical approach – that is, the surface measurement was previously simply not possible with the existent surface profiling systems.

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