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Flatness VS parallelism

John Predmore

Quite Involved in Discussions
#2
Both terms measure the characteristic that all points in a surface lie in a geometric plane, with no points outside the specified tolerance. With parallelism, the geometric plane is referenced to a GD&T defined datum. Flatness is a surface in reference to itself as the plane. Flatness takes no datum reference. One example might explain better. If you place a wedge-shaped part on a surface plate, the top surface will not be parallel to the surface plate, but the top surface could very well be in spec for flatness.
 

dsanabria

Quite Involved in Discussions
#4
Surface A can be 0.5 out of flatness but at the same location the thickness (parallelism) can not be out more than .02
 

John Predmore

Quite Involved in Discussions
#5
I am referring to fisa's second drawing where datum A is shown on the bottom, not the first, where A is shown on top.

Surface A is identified as Datum A in this drawing, and that is an important distinction. Parallelism is defined as all points on the other surface must fall within a tolerance band relative to datum A. In geometric tolerance terms, Datum A is perfectly flat. In practical terms, for gaging purposes, Datum A is located by the 3 highest points on surface A. Therefore the plane defined by the flatness of surface A (a best fit plane) is not the same plane as the virtual plane of Datum A (a plane touching the three highest points). GD&T can be confusing because a single drawing represents both geometrically-ideal virtual aspects (such as datums) and instructions how those ideal geometries are accessed on the physical part.

If the top surface, not datum A, is held within 0.02 parallelism, it will out of necessity be flat relative to itself within 0.5. Also, there is an implied flatness due to the +0.1/-0 tolerance on the thickness dimension which controls flatness tighter than the flatness callout of 0.5 on the top surface. So the flatness callout on the top surface is unnecessary IMO. The flatness callout on surface A is appropriate, because parallelism only applies to the top surface relative to the 3 highest points on surface A.
 

John Predmore

Quite Involved in Discussions
#6
In your second drawing, fisa asks what does it mean when he took several thickness measurements around the perimeter with calipers. My answer is that parallelism cannot be properly measured with calipers or a micrometer, because these devices take only "spot" measurements. The parallelism callout applies to the entire surface. Also, there will be variation in the flatness of surface A, as much as 0.5 out of flat is allowed by the drawing. A spot measurement in a low spot on surface A will give an artificially low thickness reading. Parallelism applies to all points on the surface of interest relative to a planar datum, and datum A is understood to be located on the 3 highest points of surface A. One proper method to measure parallelism is to place surface A on a surface plate and move a dial indicator on a gauge stand around the top surface.
 
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