1. Surface Finish: Introduction, Instruments and Correlation

Surface finish affects how well parts will perform in a vast range of applications, from engines to footwear to faucets. Many in industry tend to think of surface texture as a number, some target value to be achieved. But the reality is much more interesting and complex.

In this Surface Texture and Tribology Short Course we introduce the important concepts of surface texture measurement and analysis. In this first module we discuss why surface texture matters. We review the types of instruments that are used to measure surface texture—there are many technologies for measuring surface finish both in two dimensions and in three dimensions.

With all these different ways to measure texture, we have to consider how to correlate results from one type of instrument to another. We discuss some strategies for making this correlation, as well as looking at the limitations that need to be considered.

Following this introductory material we encourage you to consider Module 2, which covers the process of “filtering” surface texture into roughness, waviness and form. Filtering is central to surface texture analysis, and misunderstandings regarding filtering have led to many quality and warranty issues, so we hope you will take a look.

The 9 additional units of this course build upon the fundamentals in this module, so it is our recommended starting point. We encourage you to consider the other modules for a more in-depth understanding of surface texture.

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