The Value of Non-Contact Measurements in Dimensional Inspections

Non-contact measurement is an element of dimensional metrology in which specific tools measure an object’s shape without touching or probing the object. The process has proven to be extremely valuable for fragile and sensitive objects in manufacturing, providing fast, comprehensive typically reports about complex objects. Non-contact measurement gives a precise view of the part or product and a rich set of information used by quality control departments across manufacturing industries.

When is Non-Contact Measurement Most Useful?

Non-contact measurement systems can provide great value in the following instances:

1. Measuring Small Parts

Dimensional inspection can become very complicated as the manufacturing parts decrease in size. Contact measurement systems at times cannot reach certain angles in small parts or in complex 3D objects, but non-contact measurement tools that use laser sensors can reach these angles to attain a correct and precise measurement.

2. Dealing with Sensitive Parts

Additionally, there are instances in which it is important to use a measurement system that does not touch the part at all, due to part sensitivity. Non-contact measurements have been used to ensure the sterility of the object, to prevent damage to the object, or to provide safeguards against potential hazards of physically handling the object.

3. The Need for Higher Inspection Speeds

Non-contact measurement systems are typically faster than contact measurement systems, particularly in cases where high sampling rates are needed. When multiple features, parts, and patterns all need to be inspected in a small time frame, non-contact inspection is a better option, allowing operators to simultaneously measure more points and patterns.

While non-contact measurement systems require operators to have more training using the tools, it is becoming a more and more popular way for manufacturers to accurately measure parts, especially for parts that are smaller and more delicate, non-contact metrology is the only method of attaining an accurate measurement. A part damaged during the inspection process wastes time and resources in a manufacturing run, making non-contact measurement tools vital for the industry.


  • James Rawstron

    James Rawstron is a Senior Marketing Specialist at Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence North America, located in North Kingstown, Rhode Island. Rawstron has 20 years of marketing communications experience in the software, high tech, industrial, advanced manufacturing machinery and medical device markets. He has written numerous articles for B2B publications, including blogs for a variety of industries. Prior to joining Hexagon, Rawstron served as a web marketing professional at IBM and a Marketing Manager at Vector Software. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and European History from Union College of Schenectady, New York.

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