Using 3D Profilometry for Steel Surface Characterization

The Nanovea 3D Non-Contact Profilometer and a Video Zoom Camera are first used to study the surface roughness and pitting of a steel surface. Using both techniques, the user can stitch a large image area and then visually select the entire stitched area, or the precise area, to be measured. The field of view and measurement range are only limited by staging which can be customized for almost all applications.

Importance of 3D Non-Contact Profilometer for Wear Study

The 3D Non-Contact Profilometer differs from other techniques such as touch probes or interferometry. Using axial chromatism, it can measure almost any surface. Sample sizes can differ extensively owing to open staging and there is no need for sample preparation. During surface profile measurement, nano through macro range is obtained without being affected by sample reflectivity or absorption, has advanced ability to measure high-surface angles without any software manipulation of results.

Easily measure any material: opaque, transparent, diffusive, specular, rough, polished etc. The Non-Contact Profilometer technique offers an ideal, broad, and user- friendly capability to maximize surface studies, together with the benefits of combined 2D & 3D capability.

Measurement Objective

The camera is used initially to stitch an image area, 6 mm2, and then visually choose an area of interest, 2 mm2, for measurement. A height map of the surface is created using the Nanovea ST400 Profilometer and the pitting and roughness were studied.

Nanovea ST400 Profilometer


Video Zoom Camera Image

Video Zoom Camera Image

3D Surface

The 3D View and False Color View create a much different representation of the surface as opposed to the camera image. Together, they provide the user a simple yet comprehensive tool to view the surface morphology.

False Color View

3D View

Surface analysis

Parameters Value Unit
Maximum depth 28.19 μm
Area of the hole 6513 μm2

False color mirrored in Z

Volume of islands

Number of islands 37
Threshold 11.28 μm
Parameters Stat. Value Unit
Area Mean 0.02522 mm2
Volume Mean 134896 μm3
Max height Mean 17.53 μm


In this application, it has been demonstrated how the combination of the Nanovea 3D Non-Contact Profilometer and the Video Zoom Camera can characterize a metal surface in various ways. The camera enables visual imaging of the surface and at the same time provides a tool to precisely select the area to be measured. The 3D scan of the surface shows the average roughness to be 3.620 μm and total height to be 37.91 μm. The deepest pit on the surface was found to be 28 μm deep, and the total volume of the pits was 1.35x105 μm3. The data given represents only a segment of the calculations available in the analysis software.


This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Nanovea.

For more information on this source, please visit Nanovea.

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