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DeterminingMeasurementUncertaintyforDimensionalMeasurements

Thepurposeofanymeasurementactivityistodetermineorquantifythesize,locationor
amountofanobject,substanceorphysicalparameterofafeaturewearemeasuring.Wemaybe
tryingtodeterminethediameterofawristpinforanautomobileengine(size),theX,YandZ
coordinatesofadowelpinholerelativetoareferencesurfaceinadiecomponent(location)orthe
percentagesofpigmentsinaspecificshadeofredpaint(amount).
Followingisanexampleoftheequationofadimensionalmeasurement:
Equation#1: Y = X + Ci
Where
Y =correctedvalue
X=measuredvalue
Ci=correctionstothemeasuredvalue
Ifwekneworcouldmeasureexactly alltheelementsthataffectoralterthemeasured
valuewecouldaddorsubtracttheappropriatecorrectionsCi andexactlyadjustthemeasured
valueXtoobtainthecorrectedvalueY.Howeveralloftheseelementshaveacertaindegreeof
potentialerror oruncertaintyassociatedwiththemandasaresultthecombinedaffectonthe
correctedvalueisthatwecanonlyexpressitasbeingacertainvaluewithinacertainrangetoa
certainlevelofconfidence.ThisresultingrangeistheExpandedUncertainty.
Theindividualperformingameasurement,theequipmentusedtotakethemeasurement
andtheenvironmentinwhichthemeasurementistakenareallpotentialsourcesoferror(which
producesuncertainty)inthemeasurementvaluesobtained.Trainingof theindividualsperforming
themeasurementactivity,carefulselectionoftheequipmentandspecificationoftheprocedures
usedtoobtainmeasurementsandcontroloftheenvironmentinwhichthemeasurementsaretaken
enableustoreducetoaminimumthemagnitudeofmeasurementerror.
Theformaldeterminationofavalueforuncertaintyofameasurementrequiresthatwe
analyzeandunderstandtheinteractionoftheindividual,theequipmentandtheenvironmentto
determinethemannerinwhichtheycontributetothemeasurementerrorandtheexpected
magnitudeoftheircontributions.
Expandeduncertaintyistheextenttowhichthemeasuredvaluesweobtaincanbe
expectedtodeviatefromtheactualvalueofthefeaturewearemeasuring.Astatedvalueof
expandeduncertaintyistypicallyexpressedata95%confidencelevel,whichmeansthatin95
casesoutof100,themeasurementerrorwillnotexceedthestatedamount.Intheexample,which
follows,wewillcalculatetheExpandedUncertaintyofa1inchmicrometerandalthoughthis
exampledealswithdimensionalmeasurement,theprocessofdeterminationandtheanalytical
methodsinvolvedareconsistentforallmeasurementactivities.
Begintheprocessofdeterminationofuncertaintybyestablishingan uncertaintybudget.
Thisisdonebyidentifyingallsignificantelementsofthemeasurementprocessanddetermining
theirindividualcontributionstothetotaluncertaintyofthemeasurement.Reasonedjudgments
mustbemadeastowhichelementsareconsideredsignificantandmustthereforebeincludedand
whichoneswillresultincontributionssosmallastobeinsignificantandcansafelybeexcluded.
Themicrometerwhichisthesubjectofourdeterminationhasthefollowingcharacteristics:

Rangeof measurement:0.0to1.0in/0.0to25.4mm
Resolution:0.0001in/0.00254mm
Typeofmeasurementdisplay:Digital
Itisequippedwitharatchetorclutchtominimizeinconsistencyinappliedmeasuringforce.
Thegageblockwhichwillserveasthemasterismadeofaspecialgradeofsteel,which
iscapableofbeinghardened,andwhichwillretainahighdegreeofdimensionalstability.
Forthisspecificmicrometer,thefollowingelementsareidentifiedascontributingtothe
overallmeasurementuncertaintyandthereforerequiringacorrectiontothemeasuredvalueto
accountfortheircontribution.
1.) C1=Uncertaintyofsettingmaster
2.) C2=Uncertaintyofrepeatability
3.) C2=Uncertaintyofresolution
4.) C3=Uncertaintyofthermometer
5.) C4=UncertaintyinCTE(CoefficientofThermalExpansion)
6.) C5=Uncertaintyduetotemperaturedifferentialbetweenmicrometerandstandard
Sincethemicrometerandthegageblockarebothmadeofsteelwhichhasahigh
compressivestrengthandthemicrometerhasaratchetonthethimbletominimizeapplied
measurementforce,dimensionaldistortionofthemicrometerframeandthegageblockis
consideredinsignificantandthereforenocorrectionisdeemednecessary.Thisstatementisan
exampleofreasonedjudgmentindeterminingwhatcontributorsareworthyofanalysisandwhich
onescanbeexcludedwithoutimpactingthefinaldetermination.
Theuncertaintybudgetusedhas9columnsforenteringdata(seeattachedspreadsheet).
Theyarelistedbelowwithabriefexplanationofwhattheyrepresent.
Column1.)Theidentifierforthecorrectionbeingdetermined.C1, C2, C3 etc.
Column2.)Thesourceoftheuncertaintyassociatedwiththecorrectionidentifier.
Column3.)Thestatementorestimateoftheuncertaintyassociatedwiththesource.Thisis
typicallyanexpandeduncertaintyforTypeBsandmaybeanexpandedor
standarduncertaintyforTypeAs.Itisnecessarytodeterminewhichuncertainty
IsgivenforTypeAs.Theunitsaretypicallymicroinches(in)ormicrometers
Column4.)DegreesofFreedom.Thisisanindicatorofhowmuchinformationwasusedinthe
statisticaldeterminationofanuncertaintyestimate.Itisequaltothenumberof
measurementstaken(n) 1.If30measurementsweretakenthenthedegreesof
freedomwouldbe(n1)or30 1=29.ForTypeBuncertaintiesthedegreesof
freedomarebyconventionconsideredtobe( )infinity.
Column5.)Typeofuncertainty.TypeAuncertaintiesarethosethatarestatisticallydetermined.
TypeBuncertaintiesarethosethataredeterminedbyanyothermeans.Thesemeans
mayincludepreviousmeasurementdata,experiencewithorgeneralknowledgeof
therelevantmaterialsorinstruments,dataprovidedincalibrationandotherreports,
manufacturersspecificationsanduncertaintiesassignedtoreferencedatatakenfrom
handbooks.
Column6.)Typeofdistribution.Eachcontributortotheoveralluncertaintyhasanunderlying

distributionassociatedwiththevariousvaluesthatmightbeobtainedforit.There
arenumeroustypesofdistributionsthesevaluesmighttakebutfordimensional
uncertaintieswewillconsiderthe4mostcommontypesaslistedbelow.
Normaldistribution:
Thisdistributionresultsfromprocessesthatproduceapopulationinwhich68.26%ofthe
populationislocatedwithin+/1ofthemean,95.45%islocatedwithin+/2ofthemeanand
99.73%islocatedwithin+/3fromthemean.
Rectangulardistribution:
Thisdistributionresultsfromprocessesthatproduceapopulationinwhichallvaluesare
equallylikelytooccur.95%ofthepopulationiscontainedwithin+/ 3 .
Triangulardistribution:
Thisdistributionresultsfromprocessesthatproduceapopulationinwhichmostvaluesare
concentratednearthecenter.95%ofthepopulationiscontainedwithin+/ 6.
Udistribution:
Thisdistributionresultsfromprocessesthatproduceapopulationinwhichmostvaluesare
concentratedneartheboundaries.95%ofthepopulationiscontainedwithin+/ 2.
Column7.)Divisor.ThisisthenumberthatdividestheExpandedUncertainty toobtainthe
StandardUncertainty.Itisthecoefficientof Sintheabovedescriptions.
Column8.)StandardUncertainty.Ifthestatedorestimateduncertaintyincolumn3isan
Expandeduncertaintythendivideitbythedivisorincolumn7toobtainthe
Standarduncertaintyandenteritinthiscolumn.Iftheuncertaintyincolumn3
isastandarduncertaintythentransferitdirectlytothiscolumn.Theunitsshouldbe
thesameascolumn3.
Column9.)Variance.ThevalueinthiscolumnisthesquareoftheStandarduncertaintyfoundin
column8.(Variance=StandardUncertainty2).Theunitsshouldbein2.
Belowcolumn3isacelltitledSumofVariances.Placeinthiscellthesumofallthe
variancesincolumn9.
BelowthecellreferencedaboveisacelltitledCombinedStandardUncertainty(Uc).The
CombinedStandardUncertaintyisthesquarerootoftheSumoftheVariances.Obtainthisvalue
andplaceitinthiscell.
BelowthiscellisacelltitledExpandedUncertainty(U).U=kUc wherekisacoverage
factordeterminedasfollows.
Rulesforselectingvaluesofthecoveragefactork: (Thislistisnotintendedtobeallinclusive)
1.)Ifoneortwocontributorsaredominantandtheirdistributionisrectangularusek=1.65
foraresultata95%confidencelevel.
2.)Ifthreeormorecontributorsaredominantandtheirdistributionisrectangularusek=
2.00foraresultata95%confidencelevel.

3.)Ifonecontributorisdominantanditsdistributionisnormalusek=2.00foraresultata
95%confidencelevel.IfthecontributorisTypeAandthedegreesoffreedomaresmall(lessthan
30)obtainthevalueofkfromatableofvaluesforStudentstDistributionusingtheappropriate
degreesoffreedomata95%confidencelevel.
4.)Ifacombinationofcontributorswith normalandrectangulardistributionsisdominant
usek=2.00foraresultata95%confidencelevel.
DataCollection
UncertaintyofMaster:Themasterisa1.00ingrade2gageblock.Thecalibration
certificateforthegageblockindicatesthatithasanexpandeduncertaintyof 3.00in.Sincethe
standarduncertaintyisnotdeterminedstatistically,therearenodegreesoffreedom.Forthesame
reasonitisaTypeBuncertainty.Gageblocksaresortedforsizeandcategorizedintogradesbased
onaccuracy.Themostaccuratearegrade1,thenextlevelofaccuracyisgrade2etc.Thisprocess
tendstoproduce(inallclassesexceptthemostaccurateandtheleastaccurate)aUdistribution
wherethemajorityofitemswillbeneartheboundariesandfewtowardthecenter.Thedivisorfor
aUdistributionis 2.Thestandarduncertaintyis2.12.Thevarianceis4.49
Determinetheerrorduetorepeatabilityandtheerrorduetoresolution.Usewhicheverisgreater
inthefinaldeterminationofExpandedUncertainty.
UncertaintyofRepeatability:30measurementsofthegageblockweretakenwiththe
micrometerandthestandarddeviation(standarderror)ofthesevalueswasdeterminedtobe38
in.Sincethisvalueisdeterminedstatistically,ithasdegreesoffreedomequalton1or29.Also
sinceitisstatisticallydetermineditisaTypeA uncertainty.Themeasurementsproducea
Normaldistributionandsincethestandarderrorwasdeterminedthedivisoris1.00.The
varianceis1,444.00
UncertaintyofResolution:Themicrometerreadstothenearest50in.Theexpanded
uncertaintyisonehalfoftheresolution,25in.ThisisaTypeBuncertaintywithnodegreesof
freedomsinceitisnotdeterminedstatistically.ThedistributionisRectangularsincetheactual
readingthatisroundedofftodeterminethedisplayedvalueisequaltothedisplayedvalue+/2.5
inandall5digitshaveanequallikelihoodofoccurrence.ThedivisorforaRectangular
distributionis 3 .Thestandarduncertaintyis14.43.Thevarianceis208.33.
Nextweneedtoexaminethermalconditionsinthelabandthermalcharacteristicsofthe
materialsinvolvedintheuncertaintydetermination.Thelaboratoryismaintainedat68F+/1F.
Theheatingandcoolingsysteminthelaboratoryiscontrolledbyathermostatthatturnsonthe
heatwhenthetemperatureapproaches67FandturnsontheAirconditioningwhenthe
temperatureapproaches69F
UncertaintyofThermometer:Asstated,thelaboratorytemperatureiscontrolledto+/
1Fhoweverthethermometerisnotexactandweneedtodeterminetheuncertaintyassociated
withit.Expectthatthethermometerisaccuratetowithin+/.5F.Thelaboratorytemperature
rangeis68F+/1.5F.Themicrometerandthegageblockaremadeofsteelandthecommonly
statedvalueforCTEis6inperinchoflengthperdegreeFahrenheit.Wewillusethefollowing
equationtocalculatetheresultinguncertaintyassociatedwiththeinaccuracyofthethermometer.

Equation#2: DL = L * DT *a
Where
DL =theerrorinlength
L =thenominallengthofthegageblock
DT =theexpectederrorofthethermometerindegreesFahrenheit
a=CTE(CoefficientofThermalExpansion)
Substitutingactualvalues:
DL =1.00*.5*6.00in =3.00in
Theexpandeduncertaintyis3.00in.ItisaTypeBuncertaintythereforethereareno
degreesoffreedom.Itisunlikelythattheworstcaseascalculatedwillalwayshappensoconsider
thisasaRectangulardistributionforwhichthedivisoris 3 .Thestandarduncertaintyis1.73.
Thevarianceis3.00.
UncertaintyofCTE(CoefficientofThermalExpansion): Themicrometerandthegage
blockaremadeofsteelandthecommonlystatedvalueforCTEis6inperinchoflengthper
degreeFahrenheit.Althoughthisvalueissatisfactoryformostengineeringcalculations,itisnot
anexactvalueandwhenconsideringprecisemeasurementsitisnecessarytoconsiderthe
uncertaintyassociatedwiththevalueforCTE.Itisreasonabletoexpectthatthisvaluemightvary
byasmuchas15%or.9 inperinchoflengthperdegreeFahrenheit.Tocalculatetheresulting
uncertaintyassociatedwiththeCTEwewilluseEquation#3below.
Equation#3: DL = L * DT * Da
Where
DL =theerrorinlength
L =thenominallengthofthegageblock
DT =thedeviationfromstandardtemperatureinthelab
Da =thedifferenceinCTEofthegageblockandthemicrometer
Substitutingactualvalues:
DL =1.00*1.5*.9in = 1.35in
Theexpandeduncertaintyis1.35in.ItisaTypeBuncertaintythereforethereareno
degreesoffreedom.Againitisunlikelythattheworstcaseascalculatedwillalwayshappenso
considerthisasaRectangulardistributionforwhichthedivisoris 3 .Thestandarduncertainty
is0.78. Thevarianceis0.61.
Uncertaintyduetotemperaturedifferential:Ifthetemperatureofthemicrometerand
thegageblockarenotthesametheywillexperienceunequalthermalexpansionorcontractionand
thiswillproduceanerrorinthemeasurement.Laboratoryproceduresmustaddresstheneedfor
bothitemstobeatthesametemperature.Perhapsapolicystatesthatitemsfortestmustbeplaced
inthecontrolledenvironmentofthelaboratoryaminimumof24hourspriortomeasurementso
thatthermalequilibriummaybeattained.Smallfluctuationsarestillpossibleasthetemperature
controlsystemofthelaboratorymakesslightadjustmentstomaintainthestatedtemperatureof
68F+/1F.Itisreasonabletoexpectthatunderlaboratoryconditionsthetemperaturedifferential
doesnotexceed0.1F.WewilluseEquation#2belowtocalculatethiserrorasfollows.
Equation#2: DL = L * DT *a
Where
DL =theerrorinlength

L =thenominallengthofthegageblock
DT =thetemperaturedifferentialbetweenthemicrometerandthegageblock
a=CTE(CoefficientofThermalExpansion)
Substitutingactualvalues:
DL =1.00*0.1*6in = 0.60in

Theexpandeduncertaintyis0.60in.ItisaTypeBuncertaintythereforethereareno
degreesoffreedom.Againitisunlikelythattheworstcaseascalculatedwillalwayshappenso
considerthisasaRectangulardistributionforwhichthedivisoris 3 .Thestandarduncertainty
is0.35.Thevarianceis0.12.
Summingallofthevariances:
VarianceofMaster:4.49
(Largerofrepeatabilityvs.resolution)
VarianceofRepeatability:1,440.00
Varianceofuncertaintyofthermometer:
3.00
VarianceofuncertaintyinCTE:.61
Varianceuncertaintyduetotemperaturedifferential:.12
Variances=1,448.22
Combinedstandarduncertainty: 1448.22 =38.05
Referringtotherulesforselectingacoveragefactor,usek=2.00perrulenumber3since
theonecontributorisobviouslydominantanditisnormallydistributed.
Expandeduncertainty(Note:k=2.00):76.11in

DocumentPublishedby:
HenryAlexander(PJLATechnicalCommitteeMember)
HenryAlexanderEngineering,Inc.
1367SnyderRoad
Norwalk,OH44857
ApprovedbyPJLA