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Skids and Probes for Surface Finish
George Schuetz, Mahr Federal Inc.
The most commonly used—and perhaps the simplest measure of surface finish—is the Ra parameter, or roughness average. However, like ordering a coffee at one of today's deluxe cafes, it's not exactly simple. There are other things to consider in order to ensure the best results. For example, Ra can be measured with two types of contact gages, which are distinguished by the nature of the probe or contact that traverses the part's surface. In "skidded" gages, the sensitive, diamond-tipped contact, or stylus, is contained within a probe, which has a metal skid that rests on the workpiece. These skidded gages use the workpiece itself as the reference surface. This is a relatively simple, inexpensive approach to surface measurement.
More complex skidless gages use an internal precision surface as a reference. This enables skidless gages to be used for the measurement of waviness and form parameters, in addition to surface roughness.
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