Home > News > Content

What Is Surface Roughness

Dec 01, 2015

Surface roughness often shortened to roughness, is a component of surface texture. It is quantified by the deviations in the direction of the normal vector 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. However, in practice it is often necessary to know both the amplitude and frequency to ensure that a surface is fit for a purpose.



                                                 Enlarged drawing of 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.

                                                          The basic symbol


Although a high roughness value is often undesirable, it can be difficult and expensive to control in manufacturing. Decreasing the roughness of a surface will usually increase its manufacturing costs. This often results in a trade-off between the manufacturing cost of a component and its performance in application.The general roughness is Ra 0.8-3.2 in machining processing.


Roughness can be measured by manual comparison against a "surface roughness comparator", a sample of known surface roughnesses, but more generally a Surface profile measurement is made with a profilometer that can be contact (typically a diamond stylus) or optical (e.g. a white light interferometer).


However, controlled roughness can often be desirable. For example, a gloss surface can be too shiny to the eye and too slippy to the finger (a touchpad is a good example) so a controlled roughness is required.