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Panasonic Corp has developed an ultra-high accurate three-dimensional (3D) profilometer with a newly-developed probe. The machine can measure surface profiles including pores at least 50µm in diameter within a flat surface area of 100mm in length and width and a vertical surface of a micromachined sensor to an accuracy of ±0.15µm. The measurement can be done at a speed of 2mm/s.

This 3D profilometer is tailored for extremely accurate measurement of high-precision components used in such products as mobile phones and automobiles.

Compared to conventional contact-type profilometers which achieve a measurement accuracy of only several microns, this device can measure surface profiles of components as well as the interior and exterior walls of their metal molds accurately at a submicron order. The device will help make the products even smaller, and will also help increase production efficiency and reduce lead time.

When tracing an object, the probe uses the slightest, infinitesimal contact force of 0.3mN, equivalent to that caused by a mosquito's landing, without damaging the surface. By maintaining constant and steady contact with the object with such light load, the machine has achieved the ultra-high accuracy of ±0.15µm. This was made possible by Panasonic's optical servo control technology allowing for accurately controlling relative positions between the probe and the object.

The machine also employs Panasonic's vibration analysis technology to achieve optimal anti-vibration mechanism, evaluating the machine's frame structure and vibration effects of the machine itself and surrounding equipment on the same floor. As a result, the profilometer has an improved anti-vibration performance, while having a smaller footprint, a 50% reduction from the current company's product.

The profilometer incorporates Panasonic's optical design technology, which allows users to measure both vertical and horizontal surfaces accurately and continuously without need for repositioning the object.

The company will start taking orders of the 3D profilometer in October 2009 in Japan.