Surface Finishes

SurfaceFinishes - Surface Finishes


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Surface roughness, often shortened to roughness, is a measure of the texture of a surface. It is quantified by the vertical deviations of a real surface from its ideal form. If these deviations are large, the surface is rough; if they are small the surface is smooth. Roughness is typically considered to be the high frequency, short wavelength component of a measured surface.

Roughness plays an important role in determining how a real object will interact with its environment. Rough surfaces usually wear more quickly and have higher friction coefficients than smooth surfaces. Roughness is often a good predictor of the performance of a mechanical component, since irregularities in the surface may form nucleation sites for cracks or corrosion. On the other hand, roughness may promote adhesion.

Although roughness is often undesirable, it is difficult and expensive to control in manufacturing. Decreasing the roughness of a surface will usually increase exponentially its manufacturing costs. This often results in a trade-off between the manufacturing cost of a component and its performance in application.

Roughness is typically measured in “RMS” microinches or micrometers and is often only measured by manual comparison against a “surface roughness comparator”, a sample of known surface roughnesses.

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