When microns matter: Web site smooths the way


A new National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Web site enables manufacturers to check the accuracy of measurement software used to verify the smoothness of product surfaces.

Automotive, aerospace and optic industry engineers should find the NIST virtual surface calibration Web site particularly useful. Those industries rely on precise measurements of surface smoothness to ensure the efficiency of cylinder-piston engines, to make high-performance metal wind tunnels, and to produce better optical components.

Until now, manufacturers have had difficulty spotting errors in results calculated by the analysis software of measuring instruments. An undiscovered surface flaw can make a multimillion dollar line of finished products useless.

Visitors to the free NIST Web site can validate software measurements without access to proprietary software codes. The Internet site contains NIST two-dimensional surface texture analysis software and a database of approximately 10 different types of surface profiles or "silhouettes" including surface parameters calculated by NIST. Surface parameters indicate how smooth or rough a surface is or specify the shape of a surface profile.

Visitors can download surface profiles from the NIST Web site and run these profiles through their own measurement software. The surface parameters produced by the visitor's software later can be compared with those of NIST. Manufacturers also can upload their own surface profiles to NIST and run the data through the NIST analysis software. If the results agree, the users can have more confidence in the accuracy of their software. The NIST virtual surface calibration Web site was developed in consultation with the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. It is available at http://ats.nist.gov/VSC/jsp. NIST expects to add three dimensional topographic data and associated calculated parameters to the site in 2005.

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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