Three-dimensional (3D) surface shape measurement is a vital component in many industrial processes. The subject has developed significantly over recent years and a number of mainly noncontact techniques now exist for surface measurement, exhibiting varying levels of maturity. Within the larger group of 3D measurement techniques, one of the most promising approaches is provided by those methods that are based upon fringe analysis. Current techniques mainly focus on the measurement of small and medium-scale objects, while work on the measurement of larger objects is not so well developed. One potential solution for the measurement of large objects that has been proposed by various researchers is the concept of performing multipanel measurement and the system proposed here uses this basic approach, but in a flexible form of a single moveable sensor head that would be cost effective for measuring very large objects. Most practical surface measurement techniques require the inclusion of a calibration stage to ensure accurate measurements. In the case of fringe analysis techniques, phase-to-height calibration is required, which includes the use of phase-to-height models. Most existing models (both analytical and empirical) are intended to be used in a static measurement mode, which means that, typically, a single calibration is performed prior to multiple measurements being made using an unvarying system geometry. However, multipanel measurement strategies do not necessarily keep the measurement system geometry constant and thus require dynamic recalibration. To solve the problem of dynamic recalibration, we propose a class of models called hybrid models. These hybrid models inherit the basic form of analytical models, but their coefficients are obtained in an empirical manner. The paper also discusses issues associated with all phase-to-height models used in fringe analysis that have a quotient form, identifying points of uncertainty and regions of distortion as issues affecting accuracy in phase maps produced in this manner.
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