It’s a saying we’ve heard more times than we can count.  “A picture is worth a 1,000 words.”  We know its meaning—a picture, or graphic, tells the story quickly, enabling us to organize our thoughts and interpret meaning more easily than the same material presented in words or numbers. 

Studies on learning styles repeatedly suggest that presenting data using visual methods produces greater recall than concepts presented only with text.  The perfect union, if there is one, might be the seamless combination of graphics with a few supporting words, but often it is the visual data that makes a more lasting impression. 

Identifying Defects and Features Other Instruments Cannot See

Metrology software, such as Zygo’s Mx package, acquires millions and millions of data points and translates all of them into a variety of graphical formats—essentially measurement results you can see. This includes intensity data, topography maps, cross sections, charts, histograms and more. Why is this important? Any test part’s surface has more characteristics than can be seen with the naked eye.

The surface might be rough when it needs to be smooth, flat when it should be curved, or have height and slope variations.  All of these conditions affect quality and ultimately performance.

Presenting a Complementary Picture in Mx Software

To begin the process, the camera scans the surface to identify which pixels have data. An intensity image is one of the different graphical output formats, which can include surface data, color, and possibly other maps. Intensity data provides valuable information about the surface. It is an image that lets you see if features are sharp, or blurry, if there is a hole, a scratch, or some other defining characteristic.

Intensity data along with all of the other maps provide a complementary visualization of the part being measured. Within Mx software there are options for how intensity data is acquired. When measuring a U.S. dime, one acquisition detects much more intensity variation within the sloped edges of the “E.” And another method reveals variations within high reflectance regions.

Visualizing Different Heights and Patterns in Measurement Data

Imagine the complexity of describing how many peaks and valleys there are on a surface as well as how high and low they actually are.  And where on the surface is the most extreme peak or valley? Mx software describes that type of information with color.  Perfectly easy to distinguish what is happening on the surface.

Some manufacturing processes, such as grinding, polishing, and cutting create a pattern on a surface that will not be obvious even if you run your finger over it.  And in many cases, the pattern needs to be there in order to achieve performance specifications. 

Communicating Your Measurement to Customers and Suppliers

Customers and suppliers may not have the same knowledge base or understanding of how a part is measured using on optical profiler or interferometer. They are likely not interested in the power-house processing ability of metrology software, but they do know the measurement results they are looking for.  They want to “see” that information and not spend an excessive amount of time figuring out measurement results.  The graphic tells the story.

Providing Information that is Accessible to All—the Language of Graphics

What if you had a room full of people all from different parts of the world speaking different languages with diverse backgrounds, including engineers, designers, product managers, technicians, service, and purchasing, and they all had to understand the measurement results of a particular part?  You would use a graphic or two, and there would be a very good chance that there would be some understanding of what they were looking at.

Graphics in metrology software, and especially in ZYGO’s Mx, make the evaluation of data faster, easier, and less prone to interpretation error.

Want to know more about the rich graphic representations of data in Mx? Contact us.