If you’re a reader of EngineLabs, you’re likely somewhat familiar with what a profilometer is, what it measures, and how to interpret the data it provides. You probably also know what a fascination we have with tools, gadgets, and metrology (the science of precision measurement) in general. So believe us when we say, this new kit from Total Seal is going to change the game for the average end user.
Quick Rundown Of Profilometer Basics
First, let’s touch on what it is a profilometer does. Simply, a profilometer measures the profile of a surface — usually your cylinder wall — at a microscopic level. As an industry, we’ve learned over the past couple of decades that there can be significant power and longevity increases by simply getting a better cylinder wall finish.
Obviously, you can only be as accurate with your finish as your ability to measure, and traditional profilometers give you some useful data: core roughness, peak height, valley depth, and overall average roughness. This data is extremely useful for a number of facets of ring seal. That data has allowed the engineers at companies like Total Seal and Rottler Machine to work together to get specific finishes for specific ring packs that are unlocking almost silly amounts of horsepower. Now, an even deeper look is possible, and you don’t even need a degree in metrology.
Seeing Is Believing
Where this new profilometer system excels is in its data. Besides including a precision profilometer unit from Zeiss, the real gem of the kit is the software used to gather, chart, and store the information gathered from the profilometer. Working with Dr. Mark Malburg — a Doctor of metrology — a software was developed which not only runs the profilometer, but displays the data in a way that can turn a layperson into a metrologist.
Where the traditional profilometer only provided an auto-scaled trace and averaged Rk, Rpk, and Rvk numbers, this new software will show you any outliers, rather than just rolling it all into a single number. Additionally, by plotting the trace within a fixed zone, there are preprogrammed “bands” on the graph which allow you to visualize the acceptable peak heights and valley depths within the acceptable ranges.
Then, getting even more advanced, there is a graph in the software that shows the shape of the peaks and valleys. This is useful not only in knowing the cylinder wall finish is correct, but also in tracking before and after running to ensure the rings have properly broken in on the cylinder walls. This data can be used on its own, or as part of overall trend analysis over the course of the engine’s lifespan.
The Bigger Picture
Then, another really cool piece of the new kit is the handheld digital microscope which can provide an image of a surface magnified up to 270 times. Again, paired with the advanced software, it can automatically detect and measure crosshatch angle on the cylinder wall (down to the tenth of a degree) and store that data in a file with the traces of the cylinder wall surface.
Additionally, with 270x magnification, you can actually inspect the surface finish and tell the quality of the finish. At that level of magnification, you can tell whether the material was cut cleanly, has folded over edges, is torn, or is burnished. You don’t need any special experience to determine that, either, as the kit includes a sample plate with different material conditions for you to use as a reference tool.
This kit comes with everything you need to completely measure and document a cylinder’s surface finish, including the laptop itself. At the end of the day, if you are looking to increase your level of precision and documentation in your engine-building program, this one box from Total Seal will do exactly that. And besides the hardware and software, you get access to Total Seal’s experts who will help you dial in the perfect recipe for your ring seal soup.