Applications MiniProfiler


Flexible roughness measurement employing an innovative miniature measurement system

Conventional instruments to measure surface roughness comprise of a PC, a drive unit and a pick up. In addition one needs tilting devices in order to align the pickup in space. Herewith we introduce a new concept for surface roughness measurements which is very cost effective due to its flexibility and lends itself for applications which cannot normally be done by conventional systems due to either high cost only or not at all. It is especially suited for in-line use.

The current standard with regard to roughness measurement refers to stylus based instruments only. Optical methods are considerably faster but cannot be used universally due to the given laws of physics. Smoothly ground surfaces are useful for such sensors because they evaluate the scattering properties of the surface. For non-periodic surface structures and above a roughness value of approx. 1 µm they tend to fail. Sensors working to the speckle contrast principle are limited in a similar manner but can be used to a roughness Ra < 3 µm. Particular advantage is the possibility to imitate a ‘traverse length’ of a few mm. Point wise scanning optical sensors often generate artefacts at steep slopes. All optical methods require that the surface needs to be clean and often a production environment is usually detrimental to the use of such devices.

There are small housed roughness instruments on the market but almost all of them use skids. Instruments using a reference datum are more preferable. BMT recently introduced a new miniature roughness measurement system which lends itself for in-line applications and fitted in its matchbox-sized, which houses a reference datum based pick up, the drive unit and electronics. The technical data of this miniature system is essentially the same as the large, costly roughness measurement systems however it can be connected to any PC via its USB interface. The software meets all technical and ergonomic requirements and calculates the various standardised parameters.

MiniProfiler Instrument
Fig 1. Instrument

It was the goal of this BMT development to eliminate known disadvantages of typical roughness instruments as much as possible and offer a device which is optimised for in-production applications featuring; an increased flexibility for different measurement configurations; a measurement time adapted to the production cycle; a high immunity to external vibrations and contamination by dirt. The result is the MiniProfiler roughness measuring instrument having the following advantages:

  • Miniature size
  • Data acquisition with 18 bit
  • Drive unit and skidless pick up inside one housing
  • Vibration insensitive due to a very small measurement loop
  • Motorised stylus retraction
  • Stylus easily exchangeable by the user
  • Insensitive for getting dirty by a compressed air inlet
  • Calibration piece integrated inside the instrument
MiniProfiler Brakedisc
Fig. 2 brake disc

An application example is given in Fig. 2; in-line roughness measurement of brake discs.

Two pickups measure simultaneously on both sides of the disc. Due to the miniature size, the instrument can be fitted to the disc, which eliminates all vibrations from the measurement. The traverse length is 12.5 mm. The stylus is retracted during the reverse drive.

Depending on the application, the base plate of the instrument is designed to be work-piece dependent and can be exchanged by the user.

MiniProfiler adapter pieces
Fig. 3: adapter pieces

Examples of adapter pieces are (Fig 3 above from the left) bottom of a hole, engine block bearing, valve seat, plane area, crankshaft bearing. In all these cases the adapter piece is designed such that the pickup is supported by the work piece in order to eliminate detrimental vibrations. The instrument performs measurements using a reference datum, not a skid. In the production environment the instrument can be supplied with compressed air. Experience shows that even after many months of continuous operation no dirt gets into the pickup housing.

MiniProfiler Cylinder roughness measuring head MiniProfiler Cylinder roughness measuring head
Fig 4. Cylinder roughness measuring head

In order to measure the microstructure of cylinders in the manufacturing cycle, one pick up will not be enough due to the required measurement time. Fig. 4 shows a measurement head for the surface roughness measurement of the honing structure inside liners. This features 9 roughness instruments, which measure simultaneously in 3 levels and 3 angular positions. In this way one can measure the surface in a statistical and meaningful way and can measure the roughness of the cylinder face within 20 seconds.

The measuring modules having different adapters can be stored in a magazine and together they form a very flexible measurement cell with a robot.

Using such a robot based measurement device and work piece dependent mini roughness measurement system, it is possible to measure various features of complex work pieces within one measurement cycle. There would be a need for cumbersome retooling actions or to transport the work piece to several different measurement stations using conventional roughness gauges. Roughness and profile measurements can only be done in a sensible manner by using the miniature roughness instruments shown here since they eliminate any requirements for positioning stability of the robot arm.

The combination of a small robot and a small roughness measurement system results in a drastic cost reduction for quality insurance and therefore a faster payback on the investment.

All data collected by the device is saved by attributing them to the specific work piece.

A trend chart is recorded and displayed for each measurement position. Green: within tolerance. Yellow: Warning threshold, Red: Tolerance limit exceeded.

MiniProfiler Measurement cell MiniProfiler Magazine MiniProfiler Measurement data chart MiniProfiler
Fig. 5. Measurement cell Fig. 6. Magazine Fig 7. Measurement data chart Fig. 8

Roughness measurement in grooves of shafts, pistons and the like

The surface roughness measurement at the groove sides turns out to be awkward, time consuming and error-prone when using conventional instrumentation.

Employing an adapted version of the MiniProfiler to the specific task one can solve elegantly difficult measurement tasks as described here. The miniature device features a guide fitting into the groove and which is being engaged for the measurement. Having started the measurement the stylus is lowered automatically and measures the groove side profile over a length of 1.5 mm. In order to measure the opposite groove side the instrument is turned round by 180°. The instrument can cope with two shaft diameters which are set using a pin on the instrument’s front side.

A calibration groove is built into the device making it easy to check the calibration whenever required.




  MiniProfiler   miniprofiler5

Further information on request.


Roughness measurement inside the conrod eye

MiniProfiler Very simply one can perform a roughness measurement at the inside face of conrod eyes using the MiniProfiler instrument. This is attached to the backside of the oblique support plate. The conrod is simply put onto the fixing pin. When starting the measurement the stylus is lowered and scans the inner face of the conrod eye. Finished. No adjustment and alignment required, no operating error possible.

The evaluation is done using a mini PC. The instrument is connected to this via the USB interface.


Roughness measurement on a brake disc

MiniProfiler   MiniProfiler

The MiniProfiler instrument is so small that it fits comfortably on the brake disc. This makes the measurement insensitive for external vibrations. The bottom face of the device features for this application magnets which serve to fix the instrument firmly on the brake disc.

A fast and save measurement is possible since no adjustment and alignment is required.




Roughness measurement of a roller support pump piece

MiniProfiler MiniProfiler

Measurement task: fast, simple, trouble-free, vibration insensitive measurement of the surface roughness in the circular groove. Solution: using the specifically designed small device the workpiece can simply be put in the exactly fitting fixture. In order to fix it the hold-down clamp is moved over it. Start of the measurement. Finished. In order to check the instrument calibration a groove standard is put on top analogous to the workpiece and the calibration software is called.


Roughness measurement on a valve sealing lip

MiniProfiler MiniProfiler

The workpiece having the size of a cent coin is put manually in a precisely fitting fixture and a fixing clamp is shifted across it. After the measuement start signal the stylus moves approx. 100 µm across the sealing lip. The profile is being evaluated. Time requirement for putting in the part, removing it and for the measurement itself: approx. 5s. The device can easily be operated by unscilled workers and the operator has no access to the measurement system. No alignment necessary.


Roughness measurement on a camshaft at several locations simultaneously



This measurement device uses several MiniProfilers in order to measure at several locations (see sketch) simultaneously the surface roughness. The camshaft is put manually in the fixture and clamped. All measurements are done simultaneously and the results displayed in a protocol.

This device guarantees a fast ergonomic cost-effective quality control of the camshaft without any alignment procedure and the highest possible equipment uptime. Comparison of a conventional measurement setup and the MiniProfiler solution: Conventional: position pick up and drive unit, align the pick up, make measurement. This procedure needs to be done for each individual measurement location time consuming, error-prone, vibration sensitive, assessment inconsistent, etc. BMT device: put in workpiece, clamp it, start. Finished.

Roughness and honing angle measurement in an engine cylinder/liner

Data sheet: Positioning-holder.pdf


Sheet metal roughness measurement tool

Data sheet: Sheet_metal_roughness_measurement_tool.pdf


Roughness measurement in a common rail pipe


end faq


All technical data and features on this website are not binding and subject to change without notice.