The design and development of a high precision resonator based tactile sensitive probe
This PhD thesis describes the design and development of a new resonator based tactile sensitive probe. This new sensor was proposed because of the increasing need for high-sensitivity, high-speed touch-sensitive probes in coordinate metrology due to the ever-growing demand for precision and reliability at sub-micron level accuracy. Extensive background research on the current development of touch trigger probes has shown that designs based on the resonator principle have potential for minimising lobing effects and the false triggering associated with most commercially available probes. Resonant based sensors have been investigated over many decades and used very successfully in a wide range of applications. However their commercial exploitation in the field of precision engineering has not been particularly successful. One reason for such slow progress is the complexity of the interaction between oscillatory probes and typical engineering surfaces in less than ideal environments. The main aim of this research was to design a high precision resonator based tactile sensitive probe and to investigate the causes of parametric changes on resonant touch sensors both before and during contact with a variety of engineering surfaces in order to achieve a better understanding of contact mechanisms. The four main objectives were: preliminary design and characterisation of a resonator based touch sensor; development of the mathematical model which predicts parametric changes on a resonant probe considering both near surface effects and mechanical contact; experimental verification of mathematical predictions; and an investigation into possible commercial exploitation of the new probe in precision applications. A novel resonator based tactile sensor that utilises the piezoelectric effect was designed and characterised. The design exploits the fact that when a stiff element (probe) oscillating near or at its resonance frequency comes into contact with the surface of another body (workpiece), the frequency of vibrational resonance of the probe changes depending on the properties of the workpiece. The phase-locked loop frequency detection technique was employed to track changes in frequency as well as in the phase of the resonant system. The initial characterisation of the touch sensor has shown a sensitivity to contact of less then 4 mN, a high triggering rate and good repeatability. The potential for application in measuring material properties was also demonstrated. As a result of the characterisation a comprehensive mathematical model was developed. This novel model was based on Hertzian contact mechanics, Rayleigh's approximate energy method and work carried out by Smith and Chetwynd on the analysis of elastic contact of a sphere on a flat. The model predicts that phase and frequency shift of a resonator based sensor can either increase or decrease depending on the dominant phenomena (added mass, stiffness and damping) in the contact region. Observation of dynamic characteristics at either side of the resonant frequency can be used to identify the predominant effect. In order to confirm the model experimentally, another prototype probe was developed. The new sensor was engaged in observations of contact mechanisms with engineering surfaces. The experimental results have showed favourable agreement with the developed mathematical model. This enabled a better understanding of contact phenomena uncovering possibilities for the application of resonant sensors in many other areas. The research has shown that the new probe has potential in contact measurements where it can be used for the quantitative assessment of the physical properties of different materials (modulus of elasticity, density and energy dissipation) and also in non-destructive hardness testing. It was shown that the device can be successfully used in coordinate metrology as a touch trigger probe and as a 3D vector probe. Finally, applications can also be found in surface topography as a surface characterisation instrument. It is intended that the research described in this thesis will make an important contribution in the area of resonator based probes, providing a better understanding of the causes of parametric changes on the oscillatory sensor during contact with the object being measured. Consequently, this will enable a more effective exploitation of resonant probes for a broad range of precision applications.