for high-precision 3D metrology

SurfaceInspect is a modular, non-contact 3D metrology system that:

  • Acquires micron-resolution measurements of surfaces made of: metal, plastic, glass, ceramic, silicon, polymers, adhesive, composites, liquids, biological tissues, etc.
  • Enables fully configurable automated digital inspection
  • Supports user-defined specifications for geometric dimensioning and testing (GD&T), roughness, waviness, etc.
  • Supports detection of defects such as burrs, scratches, porosities, etc.
  • Measures thickness of semi-transparent materials, including polymers and biological samples/tissue.

The SurfaceInspect galvo scanner acquires surfaces in a raster fashion. Standard fields of view (FOV) go up to 85 x 85 mm. Larger samples are acquired by displacing the galvo scanner and/or samples using linear stages.


Automated flatness measurement

In this video, the SurfaceInspect galvo scanner measures a valve body on a linear stage following a user-defined scanning sequence. Both automated reporting and interactive surface investigation are available with this system.


Overview of features and benefits


  • Optical, non-contact, non-destructive
  • 2D and 3D topography of surfaces, including surfaces with high-aspect-ratio features
  • Micron-precision axial resolution and excellent sensitivity and measurement repeatability
  • Volume loss calculation, wear analysis

Imaging options

  • Surface profiles
  • Cross-sections (B-scans, C-scans) of semi-transparent materials (infrared-transparent materials)
  • Height and light intensity images
  • Deviation maps
  • Volumetric images

Top of an installed rivet head in aircraft fuselage assembly.


  • Easily integrated in lab, shop, or fully-automated industrial inspection setups
    Modular and customizable to your criteria
  • Reduces inspection cycle time: the non-contact optical scanner (or probe, depending on the setup) obtains up to 100,000 measurements per second. Each measurement represents a 3D topographic point.
  • Flexible options for evaluating inspected parts: measured features can be compared to CAD drawings or to a set of user-defined GD&T callouts
  • Simple scan definition and execution: The scanning sequence is defined once by teaching the system with a joystick. The scanning sequence can later be executed with the push of a button.
  • Time-saving automated reporting: Following a scan, go-no-go reports can be produced and results logged in industry-standard formats
  • Adaptable to harsh environments
  • No consumables are needed: The optical galvo scanner does not come in contact with the measured surface, and therefore does not wear out like contact probes.


Metrology Applications

3D metrology and imaging of bores for industry and R&D

  • Quality control
  • Automated 3D production inspection, geometric dimensioning and tolerancing (GD&T)
  • Statistical process control (SPC)
  • Research and development (R&D) inspection
  • Reverse engineering and part-to-CAD
  • Maintenance, repair and operations (MRO)
  • Profilometry in harsh environments

Typical measurements

  • Full geometry
  • GD&T parameters such as: position, profile, straightness, flatness, waviness, etc.
  • Roughness: linear or area roughness
  • Deviation from CAD model
  • High-aspect-ratio features: teeth, undercuts, steps, grooves, splines, threads, channels, sharp edges
  • Volume loss: surface wear or other damage
  • Defect detection and characterization: corrosion, pitting, cracking, denting, scratching, porosity
  • Thickness of semi-transparent coating, polymers and biological samples: single-layer or multilayer films

Examples of inspection applications

SurfaceInspect is a versatile system, delivering 3D metrology across multiple industries – both in high-volume production and in research labs. A few examples of applications:

  • Dimensions and surface finish of parts made by machining, casting, injection molding, 3D printing, additive manufacturing, welding, brazing, soldering
  • Dimensions and thickness of extruded materials – plastics, ceramics, glass – during or after extrusion. Tubing, sheeting, fibres, etc.
  • Continuous casting
  • Tool maintenance, edge inspection – sharp edges, chamfered edges, bevel edges, filleted edges, miter edges, burr detection
  • Protective film thickness in aviation and automotive industries, on consumer products
  • Multilayer thickness measurements in the cellphone industry
  • Optical: etching and deposition thickness on waveguides
  • Semi-conductors: coating on MEMS devices, hybrid circuits, fuel and solar cells; wafer topography, thickness, flatness, defect detection; inspection of thick film photo-resist coating on electronic wafers
  • Ophthalmology: inspection of regular or intraocular contact lenses
  • Bio-medical: tissue thickness; GD&T and surface finish of orthopedic, ocular, dental, and hearing aid implants; coatings that protect devices from corrosion or patients from complications
  • Metallurgy: forging, metal deposition in vacuum deposition chambers
  • Others: conformal coating, protective tool coating, vacuum chamber coating

Gallery (click images for close-up)

Dimensions of high-aspect-ratio surfaces

Flatness measurement

Thickness measurement

Surface roughness


Metrology Software

Data acquisition

The SurfaceInspect system comes with Novacam high-performance data acquisition software, which is

  • PC, Windows®-based
  • User-friendly for scan programming and visualization

An application programming interface (API) is available for system integrators and OEMs. With the API, a wide variety of online and offline applications can be accommodated.

Novacam data acquisition software

Data analysis, 2D and 3D imaging

The following options are available for data analysis and 3D imaging:

  • Data output options: 3D point cloud, height image, intensity image, roughness, diameter, STL file format
  • Integrated turnkey solution with PolyWorks Inspector
  • Output is exportable to turnkey integrated 3rd party CAD packages selected by the client:
    • CAD/CAM software: PolyWorks, Geomagic, SolidWorks, Creo Elements/Pro (Pro/ENGINEER), etc.
    • Imaging, visualization and numerical analysis software: ImageJ, Octave, MatLab, Mathematica, IDL, IGOR Pro
    • Surface and roughness analysis software
  • Exported data can be integrated with data loggers and SPC software

EDM slot visualization options: 3D point-cloud (from top), 2D height-image, 2D intensity image

Option: Novacam Volume Loss application

Novacam Volume Loss Application processes the acquired surface dimensional data to determine volume loss from abrasion and wear:

  • with micron precision
  • on samples and components of various shapes and sizes

Low Coherence Tomography Volume Loss

Novacam Volume Loss Application

Novacam Volume Loss Application: scan control user interface

Novacam Volume Loss Application

System components

The SurfaceInspect is a modular system comprised of 1) a galvo (raster) scanner, 2) Microcam interferometer, 3) an inspection station, 4) a PC, and, optionally, 5) multiplexing hardware (not shown in diagram).


galvo (raster) scanner


Microcam interferometer


Inspection Station



The inspection capabilities of the SurfaceInspect are determined jointly by its components:

1) Galvo scanner

Novacam galvo scanners come in several standard sizes of field-of-view and can be custom built as well.

Standard galvo scanner characteristics*

Field of view
Standoff distance
30x3087 or 95
*Only standard galvo scanner characteristics are listed in this table. Non-standard specifications are custom-built upon request.

2) Microcam interferometer

The system comes with a Microcam-3D (shown here) or Microcam-4D interferometer

The Microcam interferometer provides the light source to the galvo scanner and processes the optical signal received from the scanner.

Microcam interferometer models

General characteristics
Technologylow-coherence interferometry
Light wavelength1310 nm, infrared
Interferometer enclosure4U rackable enclosure
445 (W) x 445 (D) x 178 (H) mm
Non-contact measurements
Depth of fielddepends on the characteristics of the selected scanner (see table above)
Scanning depth range options*3.5 mm7 mm5 mm
Acquisition (A-scan) rate2.10 kHz1.05 kHz100 kHz
Axial (Z-axis) resolution< 0.5 µm
Light spot size (Lateral [XY-axis] resolution)4.1 - 146 µm, depends on selected scanner characteristics.
Standoff distance1 - 100 mm for standard probes
up to 1 m for non-standard probes
Repeatability< 1 µm
Thickness measurements
Thickness measurement range (in Air, IR = 1.0)10 µm - 3.5 mm10 µm - 7 mm20 µm - 5 mm
Typical materials for thickness measurementsglass, polymers, multi-layer films, coatings, plastics, silicone, liquids, specular or non-specular
Sample reflectivity0.1 - 100%
*To further increase maximum scanning depth, a mechanical displacement axis is available.

3) Inspection station

Inspection station configurations are application-dependent and can be supplied by Novacam. Fixturing for the part is not included.

Types of inspection stations

Lab or shop floor inspectionAutomation and inline industrial inspection
If the the field of view (FOV) of the selected galvo scanner is larger than the scanned surface area, then the inspection station does not require moving stages.
To scan surface areas larger than the FOV, the inspection station typically includes scanner displacement in 1, 2, or 3 axes. Motion controllers are included.

Granite tables are optionally available and recommended for some applications.
The SurfaceInspect galvo scanner(s) may be integrated with third-party CMMs (coordinate-measuring machines), CNC (computer numerical control) machines, or any robots (as a robot end-effector) to support high-volume continuous flow manufacturing.

4) PC, monitor and joystick

The SurfaceInspect system comes with a PC (with Novacam acquisition software), a monitor, mouse, and joystick.
Polyworks InspectorTM metrology software for full GD&T inspection of the parts can be purchased with the system. Custom data processing, reporting and defect detection programs can also be written based on client requirements.See “software” tab for more detail.

5) Hardware for multiplexing support (optional)

With optional optical switches, more than one galvo scanner (possibly in combination with one or more optical probes) may be multiplexed to a single Microcam interferometer.

Additional info

Standard system configuration

A standard configuration of the SurfaceInspect includes:

  • Galvo scanner with a 30×30 mm field of view
  • Microcam-3D profilometer
  • PC with Novacam acquisition software
  • 1 year warranty

Optional addition:

  • 2-axis inspection station and 2-axis motion controller

Instrument safety

  • Microcam systems feature an in-probe red laser pointer (650 nm wavelength) for alignment purposes.
  • Microcam systems are Class 1M Laser products, with < 20 mW of infrared and < 5 mW of in-probe laser pointer.

MicroCam profilometers are Class 1M laser products


Frequently asked questions

How long does it take to scan a surface with SurfaceInspect?

  • Scan time depends on the surface area and aspects you need to measure. The SurfaceInspect features a galvo scanner which scans the surface in a raster fashion. The speed of the scan is user-programmable and the SurfaceInspect acquires up to 100,000 measurements per second, or roughly 1 million 3D topography points in 33 seconds. The user selects the lateral sampling distance in X and Y directions and the size of the area to be scanned, which together determine the number of points that will be acquired and the time that the scan will take. In general, dimensional measurements (GD&T) require the least amount of points and can be achieved the fastest. Defect detection requires the most amount of points, of course depending on the size of defect you are looking for.

The following is an example of scanning-time calculation (click table to enlarge).

Example of a scanning speed calculation for a 10×10 mm area using SurfaceInspect

For help on estimating the time required to scan your sample, please contact us.

Can SurfaceInspect measure parts that are not flat and high-aspect ratio features?

  • Yes, depending on the geometry of the features to be scanned. Various curved surfaces and high-aspect ratio features have been scanned. Displacement stages can be added to the setup if required.

Can the SurfaceInspect be used to measure the thickness of a coating?

  • Yes, if the coating is semi-transparent to infrared light and has optical thickness of 20 µm or higher (optical thickness = physical thickness * index of refraction).

Is the system easy to use?

  • Yes. The scanning sequence (recipe) can be programmed with a joystick and can be recalled at later times with the push of a button.

Is the system able to work right on production floor?

  • Yes. The system is ideally suited for both lab and shop floor inspection. Inline and robot setups are also supported. The SurfaceInspect can even be used to provide metrology in hostile environments such as extremely hot, cryogenic, or radioactive.

Can SurfaceInspect give us automated measurements and reports?

  • Yes.

Does the light beam of the SurfaceInspect have to be perfectly perpendicular to the surface to be scanned?

  • No. Some surfaces have been scanned with as much as 60 degrees between the light beam and the surface. The maximum scan angle depends on the material and surface characteristics.

Related links

 Contact us or request free sample analysis to see if SurfaceInspect is suitable for your application