Considering the trace of a supposedly flat surface in Figure 4.11, the 'flat' surface is far from a perfect straight line. Things related to the machine tool, such as vibrations and slide-way inaccuracies cause the long wavelength deviations where the undulations are of the order of millimetres. However, the figure also shows wavelengths of a much smaller magnitude. These deviations are the surface finish (SF). They are of the order of tens of microns and they are the machining marks. They are caused by a combination of the tool shape and the feed across the workpiece. In many instances the SF and texture can have a significant influence on functional performance (Griffiths, 2001).

The SF is normally measured by a stylus, which is drawn across the surface to be measured. The stylus moves in a straight line over the surface driven by a traversing unit. This produces a 2D 'line' trace similar to that in Figure 4.11. A line trace produces an X-Y set of data points that can be analysed in a variety of statistical ways to produce parameters. These parameters are descriptors of a surface. They can be used to describe the SF of a surface in much the same way as a dimension describes the form of a feature. In the same way that a dimension can never be exact, the SF, represented by a parameter, can never be exact. Tolerances also need to added to SF specifications. To ensure fitness for purpose, the SF needs to be defined with limits. This chapter is concerned with the specification of SF and texture.

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