Manufacturing Metrology Team

Metrology for precision and additive manufacturing

Grant: EP/M008983/1
Funding: EPSRC
Duration: March 2015 – March 2020
Team: Richard Leach, Rong Su, Petros Stavroulakis, Wahyudin Syam, Nicola Senin
PhDs: Adam Thompson, Danny Sims-Waterhouse, Patrick Bointon, Lars Korner, Lewis Newton

The research for this fellowship will significantly enhance two key areas which are not currently covered by the UK metrology offering, and which are key to success in advanced manufacturing. 

The ambitious target is to provide manufacturers of components made using precision machining processes or additive manufacturing (AM), with the metrology instrumentation and post-measurement analysis techniques that will allow them to keep processes under tight control, therefore, improving:

  • quality
  • reducing scrap rates
  • enhancing environmental sustainability

In both areas, this will require completely new approaches to instrument design, combining prior expertise and fundamental research to overcome the obstacles preventing current instrumentation from delivering with the required accuracy and measurement speed. 

Summarisation of the research objectives:

  1. To carry out the fundamental research and development (R&D) for the next-generation of techniques for dimensional measurement of high-precision and AM components. Current commercial measurement methods will be reviewed and considered where possible, but the objective is to develop new techniques that promote high accuracy and measurement speed in industrial environments. Non-contact (optical and x-ray) methods will be given priority.
  2. The techniques developed will be compared with off-line techniques, which have higher accuracy but cannot be applied in industrial environments due to the speed of measurement. This will primarily be mechanical contacting systems. Calibration methods for the techniques will also be developed, based on finding the metrological characteristics of the instruments, and simple approaches to calibration in an industrial context will be developed. Traceability through NPL, where possible, will be assured. 
  3. In-process techniques will be developed, based on the outputs of Objective One. 

Often, when process-control, as opposed to a complete understanding of the process, is required, the measurement methodology can be simplified. This requires a high degree of process understanding and will be carried out for case studies, which will generate spin-off academic outputs. 

This project is split into two separate but interconnected work packages (WPs). 

First work package

The first WP will carry out the fundamental R&D for the next-generation of high-precision coordinate metrology tools and analysis methods for complex parts. It will develop a framework and set of tools that will enable enhanced metrology systems in terms of accuracy and speed. The focus will be on optical system R&D, but the use of mechanical probes will also be considered, especially due to their potential for traceability. This work will comprise the following: 
  • Development of new optical probing techniques
  • Calibration methods for the probing systems developed that are suitable for industrial environments
  • Suitable modelling of the optical systems developed to inform the design process, reduce the development time and inform the calibration process.


Second work package

The second WP will investigate a number of metrology challenges to enhance the commercial success of AM in the UK. 

The focus will be on dimensional metrology using contact, optical and x-ray computed tomographic (XCT) measurement systems. 

Industrially-focussed methods will be developed that can measure dimensions and surface topography, both inside and outside of parts. Approaches to in-line inspection will also be developed via case studies. 

This work will comprise the following: 

  • R&D of non-contact methods for measuring the outside geometry of AM parts. These methods will be validated against traceable contacting techniques. 
  • R&D of methods for measuring the surface topography of AM parts, along with techniques for relating this data to the AM process variables and to the part function. 
  • R&D of XCT techniques to measure the internal dimensional properties of AM parts, along with techniques for uncertainty analysis. 
  • Development of in-process dimensional measurement techniques capable of feeding back to the manufacturing process, therefore, facilitating real-time process control.


Advisory Group:


Manufacturing Metrology Team

Room B38 Advanced Manufacturing Building
Jubilee Campus
Wollaton Road
Nottingham, NG8 1BB