In Situ Three-dimensional Surface Roughness Gauge
Award last edited on: 10/1/2018

Sponsored Program
Awarding Agency
Total Award Amount
Award Phase
Solicitation Topic Code
Principal Investigator
Brad Kimbrough

Company Information

4D Technology Corporation (AKA: 4 D Technology Corporation)

3280 East Hemisphere Loop Suite 146
Tucson, AZ 85706
   (520) 294-5600
Location: Multiple
Congr. District: 03

Phase I

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This Small Business Innovation Research Phase I project will demonstrate feasibility of the first metrology system capable of quantifying surface roughness in three dimensions in situ in production environments. Current shop floor systems are almost entirely two-dimensional stylus-based systems that are fragile, incapable of measuring complex geometries and have high cost of ownership. A shop-floor, 3D roughness system will enable greater sampling, faster process feedback and improved time-to-results which will enhance competitiveness across a wide range of U.S. industries including medical devices, aerospace, transportation, and defense. All precision machined components call out surface roughness or texture, yet achieving consistent results with existing contact gauges is difficult and time consuming. It is believed that a shop floor, non-contact roughness measurement device could gain significant market share, with sales upwards of $50M/year upon proving correlation with existing trusted laboratory techniques. Also, trusted, readily available roughness information on almost any machined surface will enable enhanced quality, lifetime, and aesthetics for precision manufacturers, improving competitiveness and reducing waste across a variety of industries. The intellectual merit of this project is due to its leveraging of recent advances in a variety of fields including additive manufacturing, precision optics, microprocessing, image sensors and interferometric algorithms to achieve nm-scale vertical resolution in a vibration-immune device deployable in manufacturing environments. The closest similar product has vertical resolution more than 100X worse than is proposed here and the proposed performance goals present significant challenges to achieve both high resolution and hand-held capability. A successful Phase 1 will prove that significant synergies between advances in various fields can be combined to significantly advance performance over prior generation products. Also, if successful, manufacturers will have access to a far greater range of process control parameters on more types of surfaces and will be able to improve quality and yield significantly via faster and more accurate feedback into their production cycle. The output of this Phase 1 program will be a first article device that can be brought to customers for demonstration in a shop floor environment. The device will correlate with existing techniques while solving many key issues, such as alignment difficulty, scratching surfaces via a contact measurement, and lack of three-dimensional surface information.

Phase II

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