4D InSpec FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

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What is a 4D InSpec®?

The 4D InSpec is the world’s first handheld 3D surface gauge for automatic, non-contact measurement of features such as nicks, dents, scratches, pits, edge break radius with the push of a button.

Who needs a 4D InSpec?

Anyone who needs to pass/fail machined components based on callouts on pit or scratch depth, size of nicks, dents, protrusions or other irregularities, total area or volume of defects, edge break radius, or other 3D parameters. This includes QC inspectors and managers, production supervisors, product managers, materials researchers, corrosion engineers, and others.

What is unique about 4D InSpec? What are the key benefits?

The 4D InSpec is hand-held and durable, making it ideal for factory floor and shop environments.

Unlike other surface measuring systems, the 4D InSpec provides high vertical (0.1 mil) and lateral (0.3 mil) resolution, repeatable measurements over a relatively large field of view (>1/3 in x 1/3 in) with a single camera snapshot – no scanning required. This means you can readily hold the 4D InSpec or part under test in your hand and not worry about stability affecting the results.

The 4D InSpec has a long standoff distance (>1.7 in) which allows use of a sideways looking fold mirror for when you need to measure locations that don’t have line-of-sight to the operator, such as in fillets, corners, sidewalls or other obscured features.

Lastly, only the 4D InSpec comes with software that automatically ID’s features based on user-defined height and area thresholds and reports depth, area, volume, slope and more without the operator needing to drag cursors around or perform other time-consuming adjustments.

The 4D InSpec features an intuitive touchscreen interface that makes the system very easy to use. With about 5 to 10 minutes of training, users will be able to rapidly make highly precise and repeatable measurements on a wide range of machined and other surfaces.

What kinds of parts are well suited for 4D InSpec measurements?

The 4D InSpec is ideal for measuring defects on turbine blades, pits and other features on pipes or tubing, edge break on any metal or machined surface, dot peen or laser-marking depth, rivet geometries, corner radii and more. Almost any surface can be measured; plastics, metals, ceramics, composites, or even glass, as long as it is not mirror-smooth.

How is a 4D InSpec different from an optical profiler?

Like an optical profiler, the 4D InSpec uses optical measurement techniques to measure features within a relatively large field with high resolution. The systems often offer a variety of fields of view to meet a variety of needs.

Unlike an optical profiler, however, the 4D InSpec is handheld, portable and durable, making it possible to measure large or complex components in a factory or repair shop environment. It uses a single, fixed field of view for extremely easy use and low cost.

Optical profilers are typically workstation mounted, providing only enough clearance for smaller part surfaces. Measuring larger components requires cast-replication of the surface, a time-consuming process. Optical profilers also typically require well-controlled, metrology-lab environments to function effectively, whereas the 4D InSpec can be used despite dust, noise and vibration.

Lastly, the 4D InSpec is available at a price point that is accessible by even smaller machine shops and repair facilities, with low initial cost and virtually no ongoing maintenance or calibration required.

How is a 4D InSpec different from a CMM?

Rather than measuring overall part geometry, the 4D InSpec measures specific features on a part, such as an edge or corner radius, hole depth, scratch or nick. The 3D data from a 4D InSpec can be exported to a CAD program for further analysis.

How is a 4D InSpec different from a stylus profiler?

4D InSpec is designed to be used on the shop floor for areal measurements of features to a resolution of about 0.1 mils. A stylus profiler is typically used to measure surface roughness along a single trace or depth of a feature across a single cross-section.. For areal measurements, a stylus system will take many minutes to hours to produce a 3D map, and they cannot measure corners or edges without potentially breaking the stylus. The 4D InSpec takes less than a second!

What type of training is available for 4D InSpec users?

With its intuitive touch screen interface, the 4D InSpec is VERY easy to use. In addition, each system comes with a set of comprehensive training videos that show users how to get the most out of their system. For customers that desire a more hands-on training session that we also offer optional real-time webinars or in-person training sessions.

How do I arrange a demonstration?

Email info@4dtechnology.com, or visit our Contact page.

Where do I purchase a 4D InSpec?

4D InSpec is available through 4D Technology Corporation and our sales team. Visit our Contact page to request a quotation and begin the purchasing process.

What is the warranty for a 4D InSpec?

The 4D InSpec hardware is covered by a one year Return to Factory Warranty. The included software comes with a one year Software Update Service, standard. Extended Warranty options are available. Contact 4D for details.

How do I get my 4D InSpec serviced?

Contact 4D Technology, or email our service team to arrange for a Return to Manufacturer Authorization (RMA).

What is 4D Technology?

4D Technology Corporation designs and manufactures surface gauges, surface roughness profilers, polarization-based cameras and laser interferometers, for accurate measurement of precision machined surfaces and optical grade components. 4D metrology products use state-of-the-art technology that can be deployed in production environments, even in the presence of severe vibration and turbulence, for unique and challenging applications, as well as daily quality assurance and process control. visit www.4dtechnology.com for more.


What types of surfaces can I measure with a 4D InSpec?

The 4D InSpec can measure a wide range of metals, plastics, glass, or ceramics. For good results, the measurement surface cannot be mirror-smooth, but as long as the surface is slightly rough it can be accurately measured. For instance, ultra-finished parts can readily be measured. For certain ceramics or other translucent surfaces, you may need to switch the unit from single-frame mode to multi-frame mode for best results.

How can I quantify the features I measure?

The 4D InSpec software automatically will identify bumps or pits that meet user-defined height and width thresholds and will report height, area, volume, slopes, %area covered by the defects and more. Additionally, a user can easily draw 2D cursors across a feature of interest to see even finer detail and measure widths and heights even within a defect.

What is the resolution of the 4D InSpec?

The 4D InSpec can accurately and repeatably measure surface features from 0.1 mils (2.5 µm) to 100 mils (2.5 mm) in height and as small as 0.26 mils (6.6 µm) in width.

What is the field of view of the 4D InSpec?

The 4D InSpec field of view is 1/3 in (8 mm).

Can the 4D InSpec measure into corners or areas without line-of-sight access?

Yes. The 4D InSpec has a long standoff distance of almost 1.7 in (43 mm) and a large depth of focus (0.08 in or 2 mm) and thus can measure features even in corners. With an optional fold mirror attachment the 4D InSpec can function like a borescope, measuring features with no direct line of sight.

Can the 4D InSpec measure surface roughness?

The 4D InSpec is designed to accurately measure surface features such as scratches, pits, nicks, or protrusions as well as geometries such as radius, but does not measure surface roughness.

Can I incorporate the 4D InSpec into an automated inspection station?

Yes. From a hardware standpoint, each 4D InSpec comes with a standard mounting bracket that is ideal for mounting the unit into an automated inspection station. We also offer an optional 4D InSpec Software Development Kit (SDK) which enables test system integrators and end users to readily integrate the 4D InSpec into a larger system with other software and/or automation functions.
4D can also provide assistance to help integrate the 4D InSpec’s control and measurement software into an OEM’s control PC for automated inspection. We also offer optional consulting to help with the integration effort, if necessary.

What types of file outputs does the 4D InSpec support?

The 4D InSpec writes the surface and measurement information to a standard .csv or binary .opd file that stores measurement setup information as well as surface height data. This file may be used for post-acquisition analysis in other analysis software packages. File information includes time, date, key measurement setup parameters, and the 3D point cloud information for each measurement. Defect information may also be saved separately from the full surface map in a .csv file for easy import into production control software.

How does the measurement of the 4D InSpec compare with fluorescent dye techniques.

Like fluorescent dye methods, the 4D InSpec can only detect defects or features on the exterior of a part. It does not measure sub-surface features. However, unlike fluorescent dye techniques, the 4D InSpec’s measurements are not dependent on the surface roughness, and in fact have been shown to detect and measure cracks and pits much better than fluorescent dye techniques on such surfaces as 3D printed parts with a good deal of structure.

Can I measure rubber or other black materials?

Yes, the 4D InSpec is capable of measuring rubber, carbon fiber, and other very dark materials due to its bright LED source and sensitive camera.


How often do I need to recalibrate the system?

Calibration is almost never required with the 4D InSpec. The unique optical method employed by the 4D InSpec intrinsically creates and maintains the system’s lateral and vertical accuracy. Each 4D InSpec system is certified at the factory. And 4D InSpec systems should not require recalibration to maintain the system’s accuracy over its useful life. A traceable calibration verification function is available, however. A system user or local calibration lab may employ the procedure and the standard to verify performance and accuracy per local quality control policies.

How rugged is a 4D InSpec?

The 4D InSpec is designed for technician use in a normal workshop environment with non-condensing operating temperatures from 10–30 °C to (50–86 °F). The system should be allowed to settle its temperature before use. Also, the 4D InSpec is designed to meet the Ingress Protection Level of IP30: Protected from limited dust ingress.

Please note the 4D InSpec is not waterproof nor does it feature any protection from liquids.

Which system configurations are supported?

The 4D InSpec can be handheld for portable measurement of large components or workstation OR ROBOT mounted for repeatable QC measurements.

Each 4D InSpec comes with a, Windows 10 based control/analysis computer with touchscreen, and a small microscope-type stand on which the 4D InSpec can be easily mounted for workstation operation. The instrument is tethered by a single Ethernet Cable for handheld measurements. For shop-floor portability, an optional mobile stand is available that holds the 4D InSpec, Control Computer and touchscreen, power supplies and even an optional rechargeable Li-Ion battery for ultimate in shop-floor portability.

Can we use our own computer with the 4D InSpec?

While we recommend using computers supplied by 4D Technology to ensure maximum performance, we recognize that some organizations are required to use their own internally-qualified computers for security purposes. Minimum recommended computer and display specifications are as follows:
- 500GB Hard drive
- 8GB 1600MHz DDR3L memory
- 15.6 inch UltraSharp FHD (1920 x 1080) display. Touchscreen is highly preferred.
- Intel Core i7-4810MQ Processor (Quad Core 2.80GHz, 3.80 GHz Turbo, 6MB 47W, w/ HD Graphics 4600)
- 1 USB 3.0 port
- Windows 64-bit OS

- Strongly recommended: on-board GigE Ethernet NIC card with the Intel Pro1000 chipset.

How long an Ethernet cord can I use with the 4D InSpec?

The standard cord is 3m (10 feet) long. The InSpec has been tested to operate with cords up to 50 feet in length.