We focus on measurement so you can focus on its application

Digital Metrology is committed to the development and deployment of measurement technologies. We provide innovative software, custom-tailored metrology systems, consultation and training – while never losing sight of the fact that metrology is “a means to an end.” The value of a measurement isn’t in the result – it’s in what you do with it. Digital Metrology brings understanding beyond measure, helping you develop, interpret and apply your measurement results to your specific situation.

Mark C. Malburg, Ph.D. Digital Metrology Solutions, Inc.


New Video: Stylus Simulation Tool

Does a stylus see the same details as an optical system? The Stylus Simulation tool in OmniSurf3D surface analysis software predicts what a stylus will see as it moves over a surface texture. In this video we demonstrate how the tool works and how it helps bridge the gap between optical and stylus measurement technologies.

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Mark Malburg presenting at STLE

Digital Metrology's Mark Malburg will be presenting this week at the STLE Annual Meeting and Exhibition in Long Beach, California.

Making Surface Texture Meaningful: Case Studies in Surface Analysis for Tribological Applications
Thursday, May 25, 9:00 am
Long Beach Convention Center, SESSION 7K Surface Engineering III, Room 201B

For more details view the STLE meeting program guide.

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New Notepad Series Video: The Gaussian Filter

When you're driving, your tires, shock absorbers, and suspension remove most of the harsh vibrations from the road, leaving you with a smooth ride. In surface texture analysis, filtering has much the same effect: separating larger "waviness" from finer "roughness." The Gaussian filter acts like the perfect shock absorber in terms of separating waviness and roughness...but it does have nuances. In this video we show how the Gaussian filter works, and we share some details you need to understand in order to decide when and how to use it.

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Surface Library Datasets – Fish Scales

A few months ago we shared some of the research of Dr. Jessica Arbour, who studies fish morphologies to understand how various species evolve. This month we are pleased to share the work of Dr. Dylan Wainwright, who Dr. Arbour cites as an inspiration. Dr. Wainwright pioneered the use of the GelSight tactile sensing gauge for studying animal morphologies, such as the size, shape, and surface features of fish scales. We've added five of Dr. Wainwright's GelSight datasets to the Surface Library so that you can explore them as well.

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Creating a Presentation from Data

In this 60-Second Surface Analysis video we show how to load data from OmniSurf3D into a PowerPoint presentation in just a few clicks. It's an incredible time-saver, especially when you have a large amount of data to share.

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TraceBoss videos

TraceBoss roughness gage software is easy to install and use. We've just posted new videos to show you how to install TraceBoss and to connect with a range of surface roughness testers. A third video shows you how to take your data to the next level with the handy features throughout TraceBoss. All the TraceBoss videos are available on our Videos page.  Visit the TraceBoss page to learn about the software, download a trial version, or purchase a copy! Read More

TraceBoss now supports Mitutoyo Roughness Testers!

TraceBoss now supports Mitutoyo's SJ Series roughness testers! Now you can see and explore your surface data with the SJ-210, SJ-410 (Sj-411, SJ-412), SJ-400, and other models. Visit the TraceBoss page for the full line of supported instruments, and see why TraceBoss has quickly become essential software for so many shops!

If you have a Mitutoyo, you need TraceBoss!

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Finding performance—an interview with racing’s Billy Godbold

We recently had the privilege to sit down with Billy Godbold to hear what he had to say about surface texture. Billy's one of the most successful people in when he says surface roughness makes a difference (and a 200% difference at that) you know you need to hear what he has to say!
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Video: Copying Measurement Settings with a Click in OmniSurf3D

OmniSurf3D software makes it easy to open and compare several surface texture datasets—a feature you don’t always get in other software. But even better, you can copy settings from one dataset to another with a click…so you’ll always know that you’re comparing apples and apples. We show you how to do it in this video.

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A Tale of Two Surfaces – Challenges with the Rk Parameters

If you work with plateaued surfaces, you're most likely familiar with the Rk surface texture parameters, based on the material ratio curve. But there are aspects of plateaued surfaces that the Rk parameters can't always detect. This is where the Rq parameters come in. In this Surface Notes blog post we look at this important limitation of Rk parameters, and how the Rq family can help.

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Notepad Series Video: Measurement Settings

The measurement settings for roughness gages can be intimidating. There are a lot of options, and it's not always clear what they do, or which are most important. In this video we make it easy for you as we point out the two most important settings: the wavelengths which define “roughness” (filtering and cutoffs), and the length of data we would like to evaluate (evaluation length).

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TraceBoss now supports LITEsurf

TraceBoss now supports the LITEsurf roughness tester from SM Metrology Systems! Now you can see and explore your surface data from an even wider range of handheld roughness gages. Visit the TraceBoss page for the full line of supported instruments, and see why TraceBoss has quickly become essential software for so many shops!

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Analyzing additive surfaces with directional filters

In laser powder bed fusion (LPBF), an additive manufacturing technique, manufacturers sometimes need to know the size and number of partially melted powder particles on the finished surface—but isolating them from the “striped” pattern created by the additive layering process is a challenge. In this blog post we show how directional filtering, a standard feature in OmniSur3D, makes it easy to isolate the particles from the larger layered pattern.


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Engine Performance Expo

We had some amazing sessions last week at the Engine Performance Expo. When you get this many high performance enthusiasts in the same room, it's bound to be a blast! We'll share some excerpts with you over the next days and weeks.

In this session from Day 2 Digital Metrology's Mark Malburg got to talk with Lake Speed, Jr. about cylinder bores, "the most engineered surfaces on the planet." If you can see the shapes of the texture as well as calculate the numbers, you can understand and improve critical surfaces like these.  New tools like Total Seal's Surface System with Digital Metrology's TraceBoss and HatchView software help connect the numbers back to the craftsmanship—and that combination leads to excellent engines.

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Stone Polishing and Surface Texture

What surface texture makes a stone look good and feel good to the touch as well? We recently collaborated with stone enthusiast and retired metrologist Bob Rother to understand exactly what gives a stone a pleasing shape and texture. See how we did it in this Surface Notes blog post.

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What’s in Your Cylinder Bore?

Engine cylinder bore surfaces are among the most “engineered” surfaces in the world. In this Surface Notes blog post we look at some of the very different shapes that you might find in a cylinder bore.

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Notepad Video: Why Use a Skid?

A stylus on a surface roughness gage is susceptible to outside influences such as vibration, which will introduce errors to the measurement. A larger-radius "skidded" probe will stabilize the stylus...but it can cause other errors as well. In this Notepad Series video we describe how a skid can help improve your data, and potential pitfalls that you need to be aware of in order to make reliable measurements.

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Surface Roughness in Biological Research

What can surface texture tell us about how biological communities evolve? Dr. Jessica Arbour and her team at MTSU are using OmniSurf3D software to study the differences in the physical traits of fish. Their goal is to better understand why some species “stay with one biological plan” while others diversify into many forms.

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Curved Profile Tool in OmniSurf3D

Sometimes roughness matters along a curved path — but a stylus can’t measure along a curve. What can you do? A new tool in OmniSurf3D lets you construct a curved path over your data and analyze the profile along that curve. Find out more in this Surface Matters blog post.

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Assessing Cutting Tool Wear or Chipping

In this new blog post we look at the steps to measure wear or damage on a cutting tool. Tools in OmniSurf3D software make the process easy and informative.

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TraceBoss goes skidless!

TraceBoss software now supports the Zeiss/ACCRETECH Surfcom TOUCH 50! Now you can see your data full screen, with the parameters that count, whether your gage is skidded or skidless! 

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Introducing TraceBoss!

TraceBoss software interfaces instantly with most portable surface roughness gages to let you see your data full screen, with the parameters that count. Its simple interface is designed for fast production measurements, to help you see, save, and understand your surfaces like never before.

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GAR Strip: New additions to the Surface Library

This week we made a big addition to the our Surface Library of 3D surface texture datasets! The new Microfinish Comparator series includes high resolution, 3D data of the 22 surface texture samples on a GAR S-22 microfinish comparator gage. These textures represent various machining operations and surface roughness amplitudes. These samples make it easy to compare and explore these common surfaces in great detail.

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How to Remove Shape from a Complex Surface

Sometimes in surface texture analysis we need to measure difficult shapes, such as those resulting from a local process or local damage. Large features or distorted underlying geometry can further complicated the process. In this case study, we show the step-by-step process in OmniSurf3D for taming a challenging surface analysis task.

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Notepad Series Video: Why Not Repeatability?

How good is my surface roughness gage? In this Notepad Series video we look at why repeatability is not a good judge of a stylus instrument's condition or capability. In fact, good repeatability may indicate a bad instrument!

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Solutions Showcase: NozzleView Software

Digital Metrology regularly works with metrology instrument providers and their end users to solve tough problems. This recent project is a great example. Digital Metrology developed the NozzleView software to better understand the geometry within fuel injector spray holes. These geometries are critical to fuel injector performance, but until recently they have been very difficult to measure and analyze. The NozzleView software lets users to analyze and explore the shape of each spray hole throughout its length, and to visually interact with the data to gain a better view, and better understanding, of the surface geometries.

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Notepad Series Video: Peaks, Valleys and Skewness

The surface heights of many machined surfaces form a normal distribution with a common bell shape. But often we want a surface that is skewed toward the peaks or valleys. The Rsk parameter is widely used to report the direction and degree of skewness...but Rsk has some very serious issues baked into the math which can lead to incorrect conclusions. 

In this video we examine the Rsk parameter, how it is calculated, and how the calculation can lead to instability. We also provide some alternative parameters that are more stable for production measurement.

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Engine performance? It’s in the surface texture.

There’s information about your performance and machining processes hiding in your surface texture. But you need to be able to see it to improve it. We sat down with Brad, the larger-than-life personality who fuels QMP, to talk about how he and QMP mine surface texture for every ounce of performance from their engines.

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Notepad Series Video: Measuring Short Surfaces

How much of a surface do you need to measure in order to accurately describe its roughness? For typical surfaces, the standards suggest an evaluation length 5 times longer than the roughness cutoff. But if you are measuring a narrow feature or part, the entire surface may be smaller than that 5X length.

In this video we show you how to determine the "evaluation length" for measuring roughness on a typical surfaces, and we introduce options for measuring texture on smaller surfaces. We also point out some pitfalls that can lead to incorrect evaluation of roughness and waviness.

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Surface Library: Free-to-Use Surface Texture Data

Digital Metrology's new Surface Library is a collection of data to help users explore, understand, and explain surface texture. The Library is intended for surface texture professionals, researchers, teachers, students, and anyone curious about surface texture. Over the years we have generated and collected thousands of surface datasets. Some datasets highlight common objects, some help show how a particular kind of analysis affects data. And some are...just fun.

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Digital Metrology and Supfina in American Machinist Magazine

Our joint article with Supfina, "Creating a World-Class Digital Workflow," is now in American Machinist magazine. This article discusses the benefits of keeping measurement data as an active part of the development process, rather than archiving it in static formats. OmniSurf software has been a key part of Supfina's effort to "go paperless" in a way that lets them reuse their data for future projects, without remeasuring. Find out how Supfina has done it!

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Notepad Series Video: Surface Texture and Wear

If you dug a hole in your yard, you likely wouldn’t assess how deep it was by describing the roughness at the bottom of the hole. Yet that's what often happens when we assess wear at the surface texture level. In this video we look at why roughness is not a good gauge of wear, and we’ll show you some better ways to quantify wear.

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Video – XY Profile Analysis in OmniSurf3D

When working with areal (3D) surface texture data, we often want to examine 2D slices through that data. OmniSurf3D takes XY analysis further than most other software. Small charts called “sparklines” help you to quickly spot trends in parameter values. Sparklines also show which parameters are most sensitive to the variations that occur in the particular surface. This video shows how the XY Profile Analysis in OmniSurf3D provides a unique twist on cross-section analysis that makes it easier for you to find, interpret, and address trends in your areal 3D datasets.

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Notepad Series Video: 2D vs 3D (Areal) Texture

Is a 3D (areal) texture measurement “better” than a 2D (profile) measurement? There are strong opinions on both sides. But the truth is that there may be some common ground. In fact, there are cases in which each type of measurement may be the right choice. In this video we discuss the properties of 2D vs areal (3D) measurement systems. We talk about how the two are related and we show where one may be preferable over the other depending on the application.

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Notepad Series Video: Stylus Tip Radius

Is a smaller stylus tip radius better for measuring roughness? Is a larger tip more durable?

In this video we discuss how the stylus tip radius influences what we see in surface texture measurement data. We discuss the short filter and how it provides consistency between measurement systems and stylus sizes.

We also look at a common misconception that a larger stylus tip radius is more durable than a smaller one. It's really not the case, and we will show you why.

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The Surface Editor Tool in OmniSurf3D

3D datasets often include missing or errant pixels, which can typically be solved by applying a median filter, peak/valley thresholds, etc. But in some cases the errors are too big or too isolated to filter out. For these cases, the Surface Editor Tool, unique to OmniSurf3D, lets you selectively repair missing data and data errors interactively. Find out how it works—and how easy it is to clean up a dataset—in this video.

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Notepad Series Video: Fake Peaks and Filters

Are the peaks that you are seeing in your surface texture measurement real? In some cases the peaks in your graphs may not be real at all...they may be artifacts of the filtering operation. False peaks can make you think something's wrong, which can lead to unnecessary rework or even scrapping of good parts.

In this video we look at how the filtering process can sometimes lead to the generation of peaks that aren't there in reality. We also look at a better filter–the Robust Filter–that can provide more accurate representations of the roughness and waviness.

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“The Surface Texture Answer Book” Is Now Available

A new resource makes it easier to find answers to surface texture related concepts and applications. “The Surface Texture Answer Book” is a Q&A style book that addresses more than 100 of the most commonly-asked questions regarding the measurement, analysis, interpretation, specification, and application of surface texture.

The 400-page paperback book is available through

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Notepad Series Video: Specifying Waviness

In applications such as controlling sealing in gaskets or noise in bearings and gears, longer-wavelength waviness may be more important than shorter-wavelength surface roughness. In this video we look at how we extract waviness from surface texture data, using a "cutoff wavelength" to determine what will be considered waviness and what will be considered roughness for a given application. We also show how to specify waviness on a drawing so that we can measure and control it in production.

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Notepad Series Video: The Rk Parameters

In this video we introduce the Rk Parameters, which are derived from the material ratio curve. The Rk parameters help us describe how a surface will wear, support a load, retain lubrication, etc. A single number cannot describe all of these traits...but the Rk parameters can. 

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Check out the “2D & 3D Parameters” podcast

Digital Metrology's Mark Malburg was a guest speaker on Zygo Corporation's recent podcast, "2D and 3D Parameters: Should you stick to the typical results?" Dr. Malburg and Carl Musolff, retired senior technical advisor from Cummins Corporation, joined host Tyler Kern to discuss how surface texture parameters are specified and measured in order to control component quality.

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Notepad Series Video: The Material Ratio Curve

In "The Material Ratio Curve" we look at this rather well-known curve (historically known as the Abbott-Firestone Curve). It shows us the amount of material that we encounter as we move further down into a surface. That can tell us a lot about the surface: how durable it may be, how it could carry lubrication, how well it may wear...even how comfortable it may be to slide around on (not recommended!).

In this introduction we show how the material ratio curve is derived. Then, we show you some examples that will help you estimate the nature of a surface from the shape of its material ratio curve.

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Mark Malburg Honored with Higgins Medal

Digital Metrology's Dr. Mark Malburg recently received the 2020 Patrick Higgins Medal. The annual award is presented to an individual who has contributed to the enhancement of standardization through contributions to the development and promotion of ASME codes and standards or conformity assessment programs.

ASME codes are recognized throughout the world for their excellence.  The Standardization group is one of the senior code writing bodies within ASME, with publication dating back over 100 years ago. The Higgins medal was established in 2006 to recognize voluntary codes and standards activity in the Society. 

The award is named for Patrick Higgins, who chaired ASME's A112 Committee on Plumbing Material & Equipment for over eighteen years. He also served as a Vice President of C&S Standardization.

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“Average Peak-to-Valley (Rz)” Notepad Series Video

In our latest video, "Rz (Average Peak-to-Valley Roughness)," we look at the world’s second most common surface texture parameter. Our eye can do a pretty good job of telling us the general roughness of a surface. Rz works similarly. One caveat: there are other definitions of Rz out there—we will show you the differences and what to look for.

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Read our December ‘Surface Matters’ Newsletter

In the December issue of our quarterly newsletter we round up the new blog posts, papers and videos that we've been adding to our website over the last few months—including our new Notepad Series videos which many of you have already visited. We share how one engineering professor is using our OmniSurf software products to help educate the next generation of machinists and designers. And, we introduce you to the Interactive Filtering feature in OmniSurf3D, which helps you focus on the features in your data that matter for the application, in a very visual way.

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“Average Roughness (Ra)” Notepad Series Video

The average roughness (or “Ra”) value of a surface is the most common number describing the “amount” of roughness on that surface. While the Ra value (or “Sa” for areal / 3D measurements) may give a general sense of the surface texture, it cannot distinguish between two surfaces of different shapes. For example, a jagged surface with sharp spikes could have the same Ra value as a smoothly plateaued surface with lots of deep porosity. As we show in this video, describing a surface using only Ra is like describing a concert only by loudness! Yet, Ra (or Sa) may still have its uses in some production settings.

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New Paper: Defining and Describing Optical Surface Error

Controlling optical component performance requires well-defined measurement processes. In this white paper we look at how analysis software can help standardize measurement processes and results, by guiding users through the steps of the measurement process (geometry fitting, filtering, and defining parameters) and by making it simple to visualize the impact of analysis options. 

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“Bandpass Waviness” Notepad Series Video

In our last video, "Roughness and Waviness," we looked at how to separate longer wavelength "waviness" from short-wavelength "roughness." In "Bandpass Waviness" we go a step further and also separate waviness from the long-wavelength "form" shapes. Making this distinction lets us target the waviness features that could matter most to you. For example, if you are trying to create a sealing surface, controlling the waviness-related lumps or bumps may be your biggest challenge. One surprising upshot of controlling these features separately: the added controls may actually let you loosen tolerances on the long wavelength form as a result.

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Read our Latest Article in Quality Magazine

Our joint article with Michigan Metrology, "Hidden Waviness: When Measuring Roughness Cannot Solve Quality Challenges," appears in the June 2020 issue of Quality Magazine.

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Read the Latest Edition of our ‘Surface Matters’ Newsletter

In the June edition we show you how to use a penny to compare the capabilities of measurement systems. We look at the relative size of high-resolution areal (3D) measurements versus typical profile (2D) traces (you may be surprised). We also talk about how custom solutions can outperform off-the-shelf options for many production tasks. And, we introduce you to some new productivity tools in our OmniSurf3D software that may make your job easier.

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Read our “Advanced Wear Analysis” article in Metrology News

Accurately assessing wear is critical for designing surfaces in contact. Unfortunately, mistakes are common when it comes to assessing actual wear depth. This article presents fundamentals and practical tools for exploring and assessing surfaces at various stages of wear.  You can read our article on advanced wear assessment in Metrology News, Sept. 23, 2019.

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See our “Predicting Surface Functions” article in AM&D Magazine

For surface texture measurements to be most effective, results must predict functionality. Morphological filters allow us to quantify functions such as appearance, sealing ability, and wear resistance. Read our article on this topic that appeared in Aerospace Manufacturing and Design Magazine, July 2019.

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New multi-band surface texture analysis software released

Digital Metrology has released Bandify and Bandify3D multi-band surface texture analysis software, which let you instantly analyze surface texture in individual spatial wavelength bands.

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Digital Metrology marks 20 years of metrology successes

Digital Metrology Solutions is celebrating its twentieth anniversary as a provider of metrology software, measurement consulting and measurement training.

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OmniSurf3D: powerful, affordable surface texture analysis

Check out the OmniSurf3D press release highlighting the capabilities of this powerful, yet easy to use and affordable software package. Visualize and explore 3D surface texture like never before.

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Got questions? Learn about our measurement consulting services

When you are faced with difficult process and product problems, you can leverage decades of measurement expertise through our metrology consulting services. We work directly with your team to address issues of measurement uncertainty, geometrical specification, compliance, calibration and out-of-tolerance related manufacturing issues. Not only will we help solve the problem, but we can develop production-ready measurement systems to monitor and control the results.

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OmniRound: Geometry analysis from your desktop

OmniRound allows you to explore your roundness/flatness/runout data – right from your desktop. OmniRound acts as a geometry analysis “toolbox” giving you the tools to analyze datafrom a variety of instruments, and to apply the latest metrology tools.

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OmniSurf: Understand your difficult surfaces

Omni is from the Latin "omnis" meaning "all". The concept of "all" runs throughout the OmniSurf package. Its goal is to provide every possible analysis method for data obtained from every possible instrument. In this regard, OmniSurf seeks to provide the widest range of analytical capabilities to the widest range of data sets – in an easy-to-use software package.

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