National Physical Laboratory

Custom dimensional measurement and inspection of components

NPL operates a measurement and inspection service for customers who require high accuracy measurement of artefacts, components or reference masters. This service covers a wide range of standard or highly complex artefacts, such as turbine blades, ceramic cores, aerofoils, injection mouldings, medical prostheses, precision components, jigs and fixtures.

NPL has a wide range of measurement facilities for accurately determining the dimensions of components and features whose scales range from the very tiny to the very large. Our capabilities range from traceable atomic force microscopes with sub-nanometre accuracy to laser tracker systems capable of measuring over many metres. Measurements may be made by tactile methods, e.g. touch probe coordinate measuring machines (CMMs) and articulated arms, or by non-contact methods, e.g. laser scanners, fringe projection, photogrammetry, vision CMMs and laser trackers. Experienced metrologists, with extensive expertise in first principles measurement, underpin our measurement capability.

Our main capabilities include:

Our experts will help select the appropriate measurement method, taking into account factors such as the level of accuracy required, the time to make the make the measurement and the scale of the component and features of interest. Tactile techniques typically have the highest accuracy. Non-contact methods can be rapid and may be used for measurements of artefacts, e.g. delicate or soft components, in situations, e.g. in hazardous environments, where touch probe methods are less suitable. Many of the methods are portable allowing measurements to be made in-situ.

Data taken from the different techniques can be stored as 3D point clouds and data sets can be merged. Captured data may be used to measure/inspect, compare to design or even reverse engineer the object.


Customer Service tel: +44 20 8943 8631

Last Updated: 22 Aug 2012
Created: 2 Aug 2010


Please note that the information will not be divulged to third parties, or used without your permission