Analyzing Nonparametric Part-to-Part Variation in Surface Point Cloud Data

Anh Tuan Bui, Daniel W. Apley*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Surface point cloud data from three-dimensional optical scanners provide rich information about the surface geometry of scanned parts and potential variation in the surfaces from part-to-part. It is challenging, however, to make full use of these data for statistical process control purposes to identify sources of variation that manifest in a more complex nonparametric manner than variation in some prespecified set of geometric features of each part. We develop a framework for identifying nonparametric variation patterns that uses dissimilarity representation of the data and dissimilarity-based manifold learning, which helps discover a low-dimensional implicit manifold parameterization of the variation. Visualizing how the parts change as the manifold parameters are varied helps build an understanding of the physical characteristic of the variation. We also discuss using the nominal surface of parts when it is accessible to improve the computational expense and visualization aspects of the framework. Our approaches clearly reveal the nature of the variation patterns in a real cylindrical-part machining example and a simulated square head bolt example.

Original languageEnglish (US)
StateAccepted/In press - 2021


  • Dissimilarity representation
  • Manifold learning
  • Phase I analysis
  • Point cloud distance
  • Statistical process control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Applied Mathematics


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