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Low-coherence profilometers deliver fast, reliable, and non-contact 3D surface measurements – with precision better than 1 µm. Surfaces are rapidly characterized in terms of shape, roughness, flatness, waviness, and other surface qualities.

  • High-speed scanning: 1,000 to 30,000 points/sec and higher
  • Real-time feedback on manufacturing or coating processes: application data is typically forwarded to process control software
  • Easy visual inspection: depth profiles, 2D cross-sections (B-scans or C-scans) and 3D surface maps
3D surface map of a plasma-coated cast metal strip

Plasma-coated cast metal strip: 3D surface map

Surface depth profile of 1 mm² of fuel cell plate, depth expressed by colorFuel

Fuel cell plate (1 mm² sample), surface depth expressed by color

Roughness parameters for fuel cell (above right)Value
RaAverage roughness0.01 mm
RqRoot mean square roughness0.01 mm
RskSkewness-0.05 mm
RvMaximum profile valley depth-0.06 mm
RpMaximum profile peak height0.09 mm
RtMaximum height (distance from highest peak to lowest valley)0.16 mm
Fuel cell surface roughness

Surfaces can be reflective or nonreflective, smooth or rough, stationary or moving. See more on what we can measure.

Material thickness may be acquired at the same time as surface roughness. See how low-coherence interferometry works.

Advantages of inspecting with fiber-based probes

Because Novacam profilometers scan surfaces with fiber-based optical probes, they offer significant advantages:

  • They acquire long profiles: probes acquire surface data one point at a time, at high speeds of 1 to 30 kHz and higher. No need for time-consuming surface tiling.
  • They offer configuration versatility for benchtop or in-process inspection. Probes are mounted onto a benchtop or inline motion mechanism suitable for each application: X-Y table, galvo-scanner, rotational scanner, robotic arm, etc.
  • Probes can work far from profilometer enclosure, as far as 1 km away, without signal degradation.
  • Small probes reach inside to inspect interiors of small-diameter tubes, bores, etc. See inspection in hard-to-reach spaces.
  • Rugged probes perform even in extreme temperatures or in radiation. See inspection in hostile environments.
  • Collinear probes easily inspect surfaces with grooves, channels, steps and holes - no triangulation angle is necessary. See inspection of high-aspect-ratio features.

Novacam standard and small-diameter fiber-based optical probes

Novacam standard and small-diameter fiber-based optical probes

Cost-effective in-line inspection

Fiber-based probes help integrate inspection directly into production process. They are typically mounted

  • above a continuously moving web
  • adjacent to a rotating part (cylinder, shaft, etc.)
  • inside a machining centre
  • in hard-to-reach spaces (inside bores, tubes, crevices) where continuous roughness inspection is needed

With continuous monitoring and real-time feedback on a manufacturing or coating process, roughness variations and out-of-spec characteristics are identified promptly to prevent or minimize losses and to preserve yields.

Probe multiplexing for additional ROI

Several probes can be multiplexed to a single detector for simultaneous surface roughness measurements on different aspects of a production line.