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Digital Terrain Modeling and Industrial Surface Metrology: Converging Realms

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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.

Keywords: digital terrain modeling; industrial surface metrology; morphometry; surface quantification

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/0033-0124.00284

Affiliations: U.S. Geological Survey

Publication date: 2001-05-01

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