June 5, 2005 A tiny irregularity in a product's expected smooth surface can mean a multimillion dollar loss for manufacturers of everything from high-performance wind tunnels to precision optical devices. New features in a National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Web site, however, should make quality assurance in such industries a bit less fretful.
The addition of three-dimensional surface analysis capacity to the feature menu of the free, interactive NIST Web site should be especially useful to the mechanical parts, semiconductor and optical industries where 3-D surface smoothness is key to high-efficiency performance. The NIST Web site enables manufacturers to check the accuracy of measurement software used to verify the smoothness of product surfaces. Until this month, the Web site, called "Surface Metrology Algorithm Testing System (SMATS)," was limited to two-dimensional surface analysis.
A new circular fit measurement feature on the 2-D page of the website also allows manufacturers of bearings and other cylindrical or spherical products to check for errors in software packages of the instruments they use.
The NIST virtual surface calibration Web site is available at http://ats.nist.gov/VSC/jsp.
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