Hostile environments

Non-contact metrology in hostile environments

Measuring surface qualities in environments involving:

  • Radioactivity
  • Very high heat
  • Extremely cold (cryogenic) temperatures, or
  • Vacuum or evaporation chambers

presents challenges for both human operators and most mainstream metrology systems. But not for all.

Novacam 3D metrology systems  provide non-contact metrology with sub-micron precision in hostile environments thanks to a unique combination of the underlying optical sensing technology (low-coherence interferometry) and fiber-based design.

Radioactivity, extremely heat or cold, vacuum/evaporation chambers

Advantages of measuring with fiber-based probes

Novacam metrology systems combine low-coherence interferometry (LCI) technology with fiber-based modular design, meaning that:

  • Measurements are done with fiber-based non-contact optical probes
  • The data acquired is sent over an optical fiber, up to a km long, to the signal-processing detector box (interferometer).

Thanks to Novacam’s unique design, the system optical probes:

  • Can be deployed hundreds of meters away from the interferometer enclosure without signal degradation
  • Operate at a standoff distance of a few mm to 1,500 mm from measured surfaces
  • Are able to scan through a crystal glass shield to reduce temperature and radiation
  • Can be replaced at low cost if damaged or contaminated. The interferometer is typically located elsewhere, in a human-safe environment, and remains unaffected

See a more complete list of advantages of our fiber-based LCI systems.

Novacam fiber-based optical probes come in many designs and models – standard, small-diameter, rotational, or galvo-scanner – to satisfy the majority of high-precision inspection applications.

Examples of hostile environment applications

  • Radioactive environments: Novacam metrology systems measure the pitting of radioactive targets and detect both surface and sub-surface cracks in weld inspection inside reactor cooling systems.
  • Very hot environments: Materials that are evaporating, melting, or solidifying can all be inspected with Novacam rugged non-contact probes. In industries that handle extremely hot liquids, such as red-hot steel, plasma, or metals in continuous casting, the probes scan the surface in process and on a continuous basis, detecting micron-sized surface variations. Surface roughness or coating thickness characteristics are delivered at high speed to help detect defects such as minute surface cracks.
  • Cryogenic environments: Our systems measure the level of liquid nitrogen in NASA’s cryogenic chambers at its Propulsion Systems Lab.
  • Evaporation chambers: Our metrology systems monitor the thickness of a semi-conductor or metal coating during the deposition process. In this way, the optimal stopping time of the coating process is determined.
3-D representation of a plasma-coated cast metal strip surface

3-D representation of a plasma-coated cast metal strip surface

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 Contact us or request free sample analysis to see if our metrology systems are suitable for your application