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MeasurementTermsCoatingThicknessGages

Thefollowingdiscussionprovidesdefinitions,explanations,limitationsandpracticalexamplesof
metrologyterminologyasitrelatestoDeFelskoCoatingThicknessMeasurementgages.Resources
usedtodevelopthisdocumentprimarilyincludetechnicalarticlesandstandardspublishedby
internationalorganizationssuchasSSPC,ISO,ANSIandASTM.Theintentistodevelopacommon
platformofreferenceforDeFelskodocumentationincludingliterature,manuals,technicalarticles,
correspondenceandwebmaterials.

Accuracy
Accuracyisameasureofthemagnitudeoferrorbetweentheresultofameasurementandthetrue
thicknessoftheitembeingmeasured.Anaccuracystatementpredictstheabilityofacoating
thicknessgagetomeasurethetruethicknessofacoatingtobemeasured.Accuracystatements
providetheperformancecapabilityacrossthefullfunctionalmeasurementrangeofthegage.Often
themeasurementrangeissplitintotwosectionsrangingfrom0toafixedvalueandtheneverything
greaterthanthatfixedvalue(uptothegage'smeasurementlimit).Accuracystatementsfrequently
includeafixedportionthatremainsconstantacrossthemeasurementrange,plusavariableportion
thatisrelatedtothemeasurementresultforaparticularthickness.Suchaccuracystatementsare
criticalsincethosewithnofixedvalueimplyanexactmeasurementatzero.Topreventconversion
errors,accuracystatementsarestatedinboththeirimperialandmetricequivalents.Thefollowing
figureidentifiesasampleaccuracystatementforaDeFelskogage.
SampleAccuracyStatementforPosiTector6000FSGage

Precision
Precisionisanindicatoroftheclosenessbetweenrepeatedgagereadings.Readingsdonothavetobe
closetoanexpectedortruevaluetobeconsideredprecise,theyjustneedtobeclosetoeachother.

RelationshipbetweenAccuracy&Precision
Figure1isarepresentationofaccuracywithoutprecision.Thethousandsofreadingswouldbalance
outtoanaverage(mean)ofclosetothecenterofthetarget.Thesmallcircleinthecenterrepresents
thespecificationofthepartbeingmeasured.Bytakingmultiplereadingswecanstatisticallyimprove
ourknowledgeoftheparameterbeingmeasured.Thisisarecommendedprocesswhenusingcoating
thicknessgages.Thespreadofthereadingsrepresentstherangeofreadingsandshouldbewithinthe
accuracyrangeofthegage.Thegageshownhasanaccuracyrangethatiswiderthanthespecification
ofthecoatingbeingmeasured.Thisisnotagoodmeasurementsituation.Itwouldbeequivalentto

measuringacoatingwithadesiredspecificationof0.1withagagethathasanaccuracyof1.0.
Thelongtermaverageofthereadingswillbeclosetothecenterofthespecification,butthenumber
ofmeasurementsrequiredwouldnotbepracticalforareallifeapplication.Itisforthisreasonthatthe
gageshouldbemoreaccuratethanthespecification.

Figure1AccuracywithoutPrecision

Figure2demonstratesprecisionwithoutaccuracy.Thereadingsareverypreciseandgroupedbutare
farfromthetruevalueatthecenterofthetarget.Thedistancefromthecenterofthetargettothe
center(average)ofthereadingsisreferredtoasthebiasoftheinstrumentmakingthemeasurements.
Anexamplewithacoatingthicknessgageiswhenitalwaysreadshigherorlowerthanthetrue
thickness.Thegagemaybeconsistent(precise)butisnotaccurate.Biascanresultfromthegage
itself,wear,damage,orduetoaparticularsubstrateandcoatingbeingmeasured.Whilenotdesirable,
biascantypicallybefixedbyperformingacalibrationadjustmentsuchaszeroing.

Figure2PrecisionwithoutAccuracy

Figure3demonstratesprecisionandaccuracyatthesametime.Thisrepresentsagagethathasan
accuracythatisequivalenttothespecificationofthepart.Thecenterofthetargetisthesame
diameterasthegroupofreadings.ThisisanUncertaintyRatioof1:1.Thisisstillnotanideal
situationsinceareadingoutsideofthespecificationcirclemaybedueeithertothelimitedprecision
oftheinstrumentoranactualoutlyingmeasurement.

Figure3AccuracyandPrecision

AmoreidealsituationisFigure4wheretheprecisionofthereadingsisatightercirclethatisstill
locatedinthecenterofthespecificationcircle.Inthisinstanceareadingthatfallsoutsideofthe
specificationisassuredofbeinganoutlyingmeasurement.

Figure4DesiredAccuracy

Uncertainty
Uncertaintyisthedoubt(potentialmeasurementerror)associatedwiththevalidityofameasurement.
Intermsofacoatingthicknessgage,uncertaintyidentifiesthemeasurementerrorsthatcould
reasonablyoccurwhenmeasuringthethicknessofacoating.Thismayincludethegageuncertainty
(repeatabilitybasedongageaccuracyatthethicknessinquestion),operatoruncertainty
(reproducibilitybasedonabilityoftheoperatortoinfluencethereadings),temperatureandhumidity
uncertainties(impactofenvironmentalconditions),aswellasotherapplicationspecificuncertainties.
Acommonmeansforcombiningtheseuncertaintiesisthesumofsquaresmethodshowninthe
followingformula.

Theusertypicallyavoidsthecomplicatedprocessofestimatingprocessuncertaintiesbyusingan
accepteduncertaintyratiorulesuchas4:1(asperANSIZ5401andMILSTD45662).A4:1
uncertaintyratiostatesthatiftheirgageisatleastfourtimesmoreaccuratethanthespecification,the
usermayskiptheuncertaintycalculationprocess.Tomeettheuncertaintyratio,DeFelskoutilizes
highaccuracycalibrationstandardsthroughoutallmanufacturingandcalibrationprocesses.Tofurther
ensuretheadequacyofsuchuncertaintyratios,ourcalibrationproceduresestablishcriteriato
minimizerelevantsourcesofvariationsuchastemperatureandhumidity.

PracticalExampleusingAccuracyandUncertainty
Acustomerwantstomeasureacoatedproduct.Thecoatingthicknessisexpectedtobe10mils.The
specificationofthecoatingapplicationis10%or1mil.Theacceptablerangeofreadingsisthus9
to11mils.
Theaccuracystatementfortheinstrumentis(.1mil+1%)ofthereading.Therefore,theinstrument
accuracyofthereadingtobetakenis[.1mil+(.01x10mils)]=0.2mils.
Thereforethespecificationversusinstrumentaccuracyiscalculatedas1vs0.2.Thisisequivalenttoa
5:1uncertaintyratio,whichistypicallyacceptableformeasurementapplications.

Resolution
Incoatingthicknessmeasurement,theresolutionofaninstrumentisthesmallestincrementthatthe
gagedisplays.ResolutionforDeFelskoinstrumentsrangesfrom0.01to1mil(0.5to20m)
dependingonthethicknessandtypeofinstrument.AllDeFelskogageshavetheabilitytodisplay
greaterresolutionsincetheinternalgagereadingsandsubsequentcalculationsaremadetomanymore
decimalplaces.Theyaresubsequentlyroundedoffandpresentedtotheuserbasedontheresolution
settingofthegage.Thoughthereadoutofthegagecouldbechangedtoshowseveralmoredigitsof
resolution,suchanincreasewouldnotmaketheinstrumentmoreaccurate,itwouldsimplyincrease
theapparentvariationinreadings.

Repeatability&Reproducibility
RepeatabilityandReproducibility(R&R)arecriticalfactorscloselyrelatedtoprecisionandaccuracy.
Ithelpstothinkofrepeatabilityintermsofhowcapablethegageisofprovidingthesamereadingtoa
singleuserwhenmeasuringaspecificsample.Theabilityfordifferentuserstogetthesamereading
whenmeasuringaspecificsampleisreferredtoasreproducibility.StatisticalmethodssuchasGage
R&Rstudiesexisttocomparetherepeatabilityandreproducibilityofdifferentinstruments.

ImportantConsiderationsforGageR&RStudies
DuetotheimpactonGageR&Rstudies,severalcriticalfactorsshouldbeconsideredwhenevaluating
instruments.
1.Variationwithinthesamplebeingmeasured.Whenthecoatingandsubstratehavesignificant
variationduetofactorssuchasroughness,thevariationmustbeaccountedforaspartoftheR&R
study.PaintApplicationSpecificationNo.2(PA2)fromtheSocietyforProtectiveCoatings(SSPC)
specificallystates"Magneticgagesarenecessarilysensitivetoverysmallirregularitiesofthecoating
surfaceorofthesteelsurfacedirectlybelowtheprobecenter.Repeatedgagereadingsonarough
surface,evenatpointsveryclosetogether,frequentlydifferconsiderably,particularlyforthinfilms
overaroughsurfacewithahighprofile."Variationmaybeminimizedbyfixturingthesampleand
probetoensurereadingsaretakenatthesamelocation,howevertheusermuststillensurethere
specificationandcorrespondingrepeatabilitytargetsarereasonablefortheapplication.
2.Resolutionofthereadings.Aninstrumentwithouta"highresolution"featuretoprovidetheuser
withmoresignificantdigitsmayappeartoprovidemorerepeatableresults.Forexampleaninstrument
withonedigitresolutionmayprovidethefollowingreadings(2.1,2.1,2.1).Thesameinstrumentin
"highresolution"modemightread(2.06,2.14,2.07).Thoughbothsetsofnumbersarevalidatfirst
glancethefirstsetappearsfarmorerepeatable.Converselyconsiderthefollowingtwosetsof
readings(2.1,2.2,2.1)and(2.14,2.15,2.14).Inthisinstancetheroundingfunctionhasanegative
impactontherepeatabilityofthe"lowresolution"mode.

3.Accuracyoftheactualmeasurement.Givenasampleofknown2.00thickness,considerreadings
froma(precise)instrument2.21,2.22,2.21versusasecond(accurate)instrument1.96,2.04,1.97.If
thetruevalueofthethicknessisknowntobe2.00whichinstrumentismorepracticalforuse,the
preciseinstrumentwithobviousbias,ortheaccurateinstrumentwithslightlymorevariability?These
factorsarecriticalwhenselectingacoatingthicknessinstrumentforanyapplication.
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