Editorial Feature

How are Micrometers Used to Measure Surface Metrology?

The use of micrometers for precision measurements and metrology can be traced back almost 100 years. This article looks at the use of micrometers, their types, and the latest research advances.

micrometer, metrology, surface measurement, surface profile

Image Credit: IhorL/Shutterstock.com

What is a Micrometer?

A micrometer is a useful instrument used by engineers and metrologists in almost all industries for very precise and accurate measurements. They are extensively used for essential metrological purposes such as diameter measurements, depth analysis, precise measurements of components, and surface characterization.

The importance of micrometers could be estimated by the fact that both digital and analog micrometers are an essential part of the operational tool kits carried by the metrologists and quality control experts.

Advantages of Micrometers

Micrometers can provide a higher amount of precision and accuracy than calipers. Additionally, task-specific micrometers are available which can be used, such as inside micrometers that are used for measuring the internal diameters and thickness of cylinders and rods. The most common type of micrometer, an outside micrometer, offers highly precise outside measurements for different shaped bodies.

Construction of a Micrometer

A micrometer itself is a working, rotating machine that requires calibration for smooth and accurate measurements. Modifications might be made to the basic micrometer to optimize it for specific measurements; however, certain parts are always present in every variant. These include the sleeves, the spindle, the ratchet stop, the thimble and its lock, the frame, and the anvil.

Micrometer frames are c-shaped and guarantee that the anvil and barrel are properly positioned. The circular micrometer sleeve or barrel is firmly fixed in its position and has a linear gauge.

Working Principle of a Micrometer

The degree of rotation of a correctly constructed screw may be defined as the amount of rotational motion of the screws. This is due to the screw's consistent pitch. The rotary motion evaluation is an exaggerated version of the screw's true axial movement. The micrometer operates on these basic principles and enables the user to obtain accurate measurements.

Surface Profile Measurements by Micrometer

Before painting, steel is frequently abrasively blasted or roughened. The ensuing surface profile's peak-to-valley height is a significant and decisive element in the efficacy of sprayed paints as well as other surface coatings. A too-low surface profile elevation may diminish interfacial layer adhesion.

The ASTM D4417 Method B utilizes depth micrometers to carefully analyze the surface characteristics for surface profile estimation.

What is a Depth Micrometer?

A depth micrometer device features a stable foundation that lies on the floor and a spring-loaded tip that dips into the surface profile's valleys. The plain bottom is supported by the highest peaks; therefore, each calculation is the range between the highest local peaks and the valley into which the tip extends. 

How are Measurements Carried Out?

The surface topography depth micrometer uses a 60° cone-shaped tip emerging from the gage's bottom to calculate the depth of the area profile's valleys compared to the elevation of the peaks. The tool's foundation is supported by the peaks of the sample surface, while the cone-shaped tip extends into the valley. The gauge displays the depth in mils (0.001") or micrometers.

ASTM D4417 requires a minimum of 10 measurements per area, with the highest surface profile given.

Are there any Alternatives to Micrometer Surface Profile Measurements?

Apart from depth micrometers, other methods could be used for surface profile measurements. One popular method includes the use of replica tape. This method involves pressing the Mylar with a medium-pressure burnishing instrument to obtain a mirror copy of the peak-valley pattern by aggressive blast scrubbing made in an emulsion cushion placed on the reverse side of a 2-mil polyester film.

When the burnishing is finished, the replica material is separated from the substrate and the imprint is evaluated.

Latest Research

Scientists from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) published a paper in the journal Metrologia on the fabrication of much-enhanced laser-based equipment. It accurately evaluates the dimension of fine-gauge cables, fibers, as well as other elements with a width of roughly three times that of a human hair.

It is characterized as a laser micrometer, and its precision is comparable to that of its more advanced equivalents, but it is less expensive, simpler to use, and requires less maintenance.

The new micrometer employs an improved laser-optical displacement interferometer, which measures the width of items positioned among two metal surfaces using light. The new micrometer is nearly completely made of Invar, which are nickel-iron alloys with superior properties, especially thermal stability. The substance is unreactive to minor temperature fluctuations; as a consequence, the measuring equipment is less susceptible to inaccuracy than other cutting-edge tools.

The novel design enables researchers to control the gadget virtually, removing the danger of bringing temperature into the device through human interaction. In addition, the team developed a more robust mechanism for the carbide junctions to retain the observed item. All of these enhancements boosted the device's accuracy.

Role of Companies in the Future

The micrometer industry is expected to enhance massively by 2028 as per the latest market trend analysis report titled “Global Internal Micrometer Market 2022”. The automotive, aerospace, manufacturing, and construction industry will play a vital role in its growth. The North American region is expected to have the most revenue share as per the report.

Manufacturers and companies such as Anytime tools, Alpa Srl, INSIZE Co. Ltd., Mahr GmbH, Walfront, and many others are expected to play a vital role in this industry. The future for the micrometer industry is bright, with modern digitalization tools such as Machine Learning (ML) expected to provide a massive boost to its applications.

More from AZoM: What is Coordinate Metrology?

References and Further Reading

Beamish, D., 2022. Surface Profile—A Comparison of Measurement Methods. [Online]
Available at: https://www.defelsko.com/resources/surface-profile-a-comparison-of-measurement-methods

Stoup, J., & Doiron, T. 2021. A novel high accuracy micrometer for the measurement of diameter. Metrologia58(2). 025002. Available at: https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1681-7575/abd3b2

DeFelsko, 2022. Surface Profile Measurement Gauges. [Online] Available at: https://www.defelsko.com/product-categories/surface-profile

Market Watch, 2022. Global Internal Micrometer Market 2022 Scope of Current and Future Industry, SWOT Analysis and Investment Feasibility 2028. [Online]
Available at: https://www.marketwatch.com/press-release/global-microohmmeters-market-2022---future-trends-swot-analysis-remarkable-growth-and-competitive-landscape-by-2028-2022-07-04

Metal Supermarkets, 2021. How to Use a Micrometer. [Online] Available at: https://www.metalsupermarkets.com/how-to-use-a-micrometer/

Pappas, A., 2022. Surface Profile ASTM D4417. [Online] Available at: https://kta.com/kta-university/surface-profile-astm-d4417/

Wiseman, P., 2021. What Is A Micrometer?. [Online] Available at: https://www.alliancecalibration.com/blog/what-is-a-micrometer

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the author expressed in their private capacity and do not necessarily represent the views of AZoM.com Limited T/A AZoNetwork the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the Terms and conditions of use of this website.

Ibtisam Abbasi

Written by

Ibtisam Abbasi

Ibtisam graduated from the Institute of Space Technology, Islamabad with a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering. During his academic career, he has worked on several research projects and has successfully managed several co-curricular events such as the International World Space Week and the International Conference on Aerospace Engineering. Having won an English prose competition during his undergraduate degree, Ibtisam has always been keenly interested in research, writing, and editing. Soon after his graduation, he joined AzoNetwork as a freelancer to sharpen his skills. Ibtisam loves to travel, especially visiting the countryside. He has always been a sports fan and loves to watch tennis, soccer, and cricket. Born in Pakistan, Ibtisam one day hopes to travel all over the world.


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