This section provides an overview for film thickness meters as well as their applications and principles. Also, please take a look at the list of 9 film thickness meter manufacturers and their company rankings.
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A film thickness meter is an instrument that can measure the thickness of an object. It is used to examine thin films that are difficult to measure visually, such as the thickness of paint film or metal plating. Various types of film thickness meters are available, depending on the characteristics of the object to be measured (transparent or opaque) and the measurement conditions (contact or non-contact). For example, there are those that use light spectroscopy and those that use ultrasonic waves. Since these gauges can measure without touching the object to be measured, there is no need to worry about damage occurring.
Film thickness meters are available in various types, and the appropriate device is used depending on the object to be measured. For example, when measuring the thickness of transparent thin films, such as glass, a spectral interference film thickness meter that uses a broadband light beam or an infrared film thickness meter that uses infrared light is used. However, these methods cannot be used for metals because they do not allow light to pass through. When measuring metal-plated thin films, electromagnetic film thickness meters that use changes in magnetic flux or eddy-current film thickness meters that use eddy-currents are used. In addition, non-contact film thickness meters, such as ultrasonic film thickness meters, are also used when it is difficult to contact the object to be measured.
There are various types of film thickness meters depending on the uses of the meter. The following is an introduction to the principle of the four types of film thickness meters.
Film thickness meters utilize light interference. When light is incident on the object to be measured, the light is reflected from the surface and backside of the thin film. These two reflections are out of phase by the thickness of the thin film. Waves are strengthened when they overlap in the same phase and weakened when they overlap in the opposite phase, and thickness is measured by measuring the difference in interference.
Film thickness meters utilize changes in electric flux density. If the thin film to be measured has adhered to a metal surface, an attractive force is generated when a magnet is brought close to the surface. Since this attraction depends on the distance to the metal, the difference in attraction makes it possible to measure the thickness. However, the back of the thin film must be in contact with the metal or the thin film must not be metal.
Film thickness meters utilize the reflection of ultrasonic waves. When ultrasonic waves are emitted from the surface, they pass through the interior of the object to be measured and are reflected at the back surface. The thickness can be measured from the time taken for this reflection.
Film thickness meters are easy to use. Simply place the sensor on the material to be measured, and a numerical value will be displayed. As a precaution, since different substances react at different speeds, it is necessary to wait a few seconds for the sensor to react.
The type of substance to be measured must be considered. There are two types of contact-type film thickness meters: the electromagnetic induction type and the overcurrent type, or dual type.
The electromagnetic induction type measures magnetic materials such as iron and steel, while the overcurrent type measures nonmagnetic materials such as aluminum and stainless steel.
The dual type can measure both types of materials. However, if only one of the measurement methods is available, it is necessary to check in advance whether the Film thickness meter is compatible with the substrate on which the film to be measured is to be applied. Otherwise, accurate measurement will not be possible.
There are many types of film thickness meters, depending on the measurement method and other factors. These types are selected according to the state of film thickness, composition, and measurement location.
Film thickness meters can be broadly classified into three types: contact, non-contact, and cross-sectional observation. The types are explained below.
The sensor part is connected to the main body of the film thickness meter by a cable, and the sensor part is applied to the film to be measured to measure its thickness. There are electromagnetic induction type, over-current type, ultrasonic type, and stylus type. Film thickness meters are the most orthodox type and can be purchased for less than a hundred dollars and up, depending on performance.
Film thickness meters emit light from the main body of the meter and measure film thickness by detecting the interference of the wavelengths of light reflected from the surface of the film and penetrating into the film as a spectrum. The basic type is used in places inaccessible to the human hand. Reflectance spectrophotometers, infrared spectrophotometers, capacitance spectrophotometers, and radiation spectrophotometers are available. Since a high-precision semiconductor device is used for the detection part, the price is higher than that of the contact type.
Electron microscopes such as TEM and SEM are cross-sectional observation types. They are used to measure extremely small substances that cannot be measured by the contact or non-contact types. They are often used in research and technological development and are rarely employed in the field.
*Including some distributors, etc.
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