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Dimensional metrology

We provide a wide range of expertise and services to support UK manufacturing, science, engineering and the metrology community

Supporting organisations by providing services and bespoke consultancy in length and angle measurement

Measurement of 'length' includes distance, displacement, position, dimensions, size, area, volume and surface texture. It is a fundamental requirement in most engineering and manufacturing industries and a critical part of setting up and operating many science experiments and facilities. Together with measurement of angle, NPL's expertise in dimensional measurement covers over 12 orders of magnitude. From our highest resolution measuring system based on X-ray interferometry (20 picometre accuracy) to our large volume long range capability (10s to 100s of metres), we provide the fundamental length measurement infrastructure for the UK.

We help organisations conform to precise dimensional requirements and help manufacturers develop, optimise and quality control their products. We have a range of bespoke equipment, facilities and knowledge, which means we are able to work with large objects that have to be measured in situ, whilst also having the ability to detect the slightest of defects on the surface of extremely small parts. We have assembled and developed a range of contact and non-contact measuring systems. These range from X-ray tomography systems that allow examination of non-visible internal features on components such as those made using additive manufacturing, through laser interferometers for precise artefact calibration, to novel systems to provide factory floor coordinate measurement networks.

At the pinnacle of length measurement, we realise the metre. We use lasers, accurate to two parts in a hundred billion, and provide calibration services which disseminate the length scale to users in the UK. We develop standards, new methods, novel instruments and support companies through impartial advice, bespoke developments, consultancy, training and representation in international measurement committees.

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Our research

We develop solutions for industry, science and technology that span many orders of magnitude of dimensions, from large immobile structures down to micro- and nano-scale structures approaching the atomic scale.

Dimensional nano and sub nanometrology

We provide traceable dimensional nano and sub nanometrology to support nanotechnology

Dimensional surface metrology

We develop innovative ways to quantify the dimensional characteristics of both the external surfaces and internal features of parts

Measurement of large objects

We support the in-situ measurement of large objects, like aircraft fuselage assemblies and engines

Realising the metre

We develop the technology to support the definition and realisation of the metre in the UK

Our services

Our world-class team works closely with manufacturers and industry to develop the best techniques for determining length and angle. We collaborate with a range of industry players, researchers and other organisations to solve key dimensional challenges.

Case study

Quantifying moisture in failed spent AGR fuel pins


Case study

Monitoring the temperature of nuclear waste


Case study

Long-term reliable surface thermometry for nuclear material


Our resources

Whether you’re looking for good practice guidance, more information on our research, or our latest publications, we have made a broad range of resources freely available.


Dimensional measurement training

Our dimensional measurement training courses introduce dimensional metrology, the importance of good measurement practice and the right measurement behaviours.

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E-learning course: Introduction to Surface Topography Measurement

This course will introduce learners to the measurement, analysis and characterisation of surface topography, and the role of calibration and standards.

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Our team

We help organisations conform to precise dimensional requirements and address their measurement challenges. If you would like to know more, please contact the lead researcher or one of our team.
View our team