The object of this Ph.D. project was to design and construct an\ud in-process, non contact surface finish sensor for high quality\ud components generated using diamond turning. For this application the\ud instrument must have the following properties:\ud i rapid acquisition of data.\ud ii capability of measuring translating and or rotating surfaces.\ud iii ruggedness for in-process use.\ud iv insensitivity to moderate vibrations.\ud v remoteness from the surfaces to be measured.\ud The remoteness requirement virtually excludes the otherwise\ud ubiquitous stylus instrument, while the rapid gathering of data from\ud rotating surfaces excludes other profiling techniques. The above\ud mentioned properties strongly suggest an optical method. An optical\ud diffraction technique has been chosen, since it produces an optical\ud Fourier Transform of the surface. This transform is produced at the\ud speed of light, since the optical system has the property of parallel\ud data processing, unlike a typical electronic computer. With the aid\ud of a microprocessor various surface finish parameters can be\ud extracted from the optical transform. These parameters are\ud respectively the rms surface roughness, slope and wavelength.\ud The actual sensor consists of a measuring head and a minicomputer.\ud It fulfils the above mentioned requirements. Its only\ud limitations are:\ud i limited to surface finishes up to 100nm ii\ud presence of cutting fluids has to be avoided, although\ud certain modern lubricating fluids can be tolerated.\ud The algorithms devised to extract the surface finish parameters\ud from the optical transforms have initially been tested on optical\ud spectra produced by Thwaite. Comparison of the optical roughness\ud values and the values quoted by Thwaite show close agreement.\ud Thwaite's values are obtained by a stylus instrument.\ud Rqopt (um) Rqstylus (um)\ud 0.16 0.156\ud 0.38 0.37\ud 0.44 0.40\ud In addition a computer program has been devised which simulates\ud the optical sensor head. The input data can be obtained by a\ud profiling instrument, or generated by a computer program. This last\ud option enables the creation of surface profiles with "controllable"\ud machining errors. This program can be utilised to create an atlas,\ud which maps optical diffraction patterns versus machine-tool errors
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