A suite of surface measurement methods are described, assessed and compared for several types of materials of technological interest including silicon for solar cells, machined metal surfaces, and rapid prototyped (e.g., 3d-printed) plastic parts. We describe student laboratory projects for surface roughness characterization using different techniques including depth gauge, stylus profilometer, atomic force microscope (AFM), glossmeter, LED light scattering, laser light scattering, image processing, and wetting angle measurements. This provides instructive case studies for learning concepts of surface characterization and metrology, comparing information gained by different measurement techniques, gauge reproducibility and repeatability, optimizing post-processing in rapid prototyping, and issues for adapting measurements for automated and in-line quality assurance.

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