Fuentek's Tech Transfer Blog

Measuring to the Micron in Manufacturing

An innovative NASA technology available for license

Industries that could benefit from this technology, include aerospace, defense, computer hardware, and mold manufacturing.

In many areas of manufacturing, such as mold making and milling machine calibration, measuring down to the micron is critical. Yet nothing on the market can measure to a micron unless the instrument is within 10 to 15 meters. For many applications, that distance is fine. But what about heat- or robotic-intensive environments that require the measuring equipment to be at 20 meters distance from the object being measured?

The scientists at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., have an answer: A non-contact, remote, micron-accuracy, laser Fresnel distance ranging system. And this patented system is on the path to technology commercialization.

The innovative NASA technology employs changes in laser Fresnel patterns, which are extraordinarily sensitive to changes in distance. Differences in patterns are compared with known pattern/distance relationships, allowing the range to be uniquely determined.

The system can measure non-reflective materials, such as ceramics, curved surfaces, and non-uniform surfaces. The target surfaces can be off perpendicular from the laser beam by 15 to 20 degrees or even more if the object is not completely reflective.

The system is accurate in field conditions and in manufacturing environments; normal air currents and routine amounts of dust or particles in the air do not hamper measurements. Capable of recording a measurement in 1 to 10 milliseconds, it does not require complex processing to transmit data. Only a USB or Ethernet cable is required to transfer the data from the measuring unit to a laptop, PC or other handheld computing device. The compact technology is capable of being miniaturized to a unit about the size of a laser pointer.

If you are interested in this technology transfer opportunity or other NASA intellectual property, contact Fuentek, LLC at (919) 249-0327 or