Digital Terrain Modeling and Industrial Surface Metrology: Converging Realms
Author: Pike, Richard J.
Source: The Professional Geographer, 1 May 2001, vol. 53, no. 2, pp. 263-274(12)
Abstract:Digital terrain modeling has a micro- and nanoscale counterpart in surface metrology, the numerical characterization of industrial surfaces. Instrumentation in semiconductor manufacturing and other high-technology fields can now contour surface irregularities down to the atomic scale. Surface metrology has been revolutionized by its ability to manipulate square-grid height matrices that are analogous to the digital elevation models (DEMs) used in physical geography. Because the shaping of industrial surfaces is a spatial process, the same concepts of analytical cartography that represent ground-surface form in geography evolved independently in metrology. The surface topography of manufactured components, exemplified here by automobile-engine cylinders, is routinely modeled by variogram analysis, relief shading, and most other techniques of parameterization and visualization familiar to geography. This article introduces industrial surface-metrology, examines the field in the context of terrain modeling and geomorphology and notes their similarities and differences, and raises theoretical issues to be addressed in progressing toward a unified practice of surface morphometry.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: U.S. Geological Survey
Publication date: May 1, 2001