Making the World Safer Through Modern Metrology

April 11, 2024 | < 1 min read

Even though it touches virtually all of the objects in our lives — from the cars we drive to the tools used by our doctors and dentists — the field of metrology remains a mystery to most people. But every day, metrologists work behind the scenes to ensure the safety and quality of manufactured parts and processes.

In fact, anything that has undergone a manufacturing process, has been impacted by the science of metrology — measured in a coordinate measuring machine (CMM) or inspected in some form or fashion.

For most of us, yardsticks and tape measures are the mainstays of measurement. But today’s metrology labs take the science of measurement to a level of detail unimagined by most. For example, lab technicians use sophisticated coordinate measuring machines (CMMs) to measure complex shapes of any size — from the tip of a needle to the wing of a plane — with about 100 times the accuracy of a tape measure.

At Industrial Inspection & Analysis (IIA), providing meticulous metrology services is one way we fulfill our mission to Make the World Safer.

What is Metrology?

From aerospace parts to medical devices — and the snacks in a vending machine — there is no room for error when it comes to the safety and quality of manufactured products.

When manufacturing and inspecting thousands of parts, it is important to control the manufacturing process to ensure that it is capable of repeatedly creating parts that conform to the desired tolerance. In general, the tighter the tolerance, the less capable a specific process will be.

Metrology in manufacturing is the study of how to reliably measure and manufacture a product. (The process is also referred to as quality inspection, dimensional inspection, validation, verification, product evaluation, contract inspection, and layout inspection).

Through metrology, we can compare the actual condition of a manufactured part or component to the nominal condition, as defined by engineering drawings and blueprints, metal or film templates (decreasingly), digital files and 3D CAD models (increasingly), or even a master tool or part. Metrology labs use coordinate measuring machines and other equipment to capture the geometric dimensions of manufactured parts to ensure the part meets design specifications.

Always Evolving

Dimensional metrology is a field that is constantly evolving, driven by the need for ever-increasing accuracy and precision in a wide range of measurement processes. In recent years, the development of new measurement techniques, as well as the improvement of existing ones, has significantly expanded the capabilities of dimensional metrology.

For example, the introduction of 3D scanning technology onto the shop floor has revolutionized dimensional metrology by enabling the capture of large amounts of detailed data about an object’s geometry in a matter of seconds in real-time during the production process. In addition, portable CMMs have evolved to become more user-friendly, accurate, and capable of conducting on-site measurements, while automation has helped to reduce errors and improve efficiency in measurement processes.

By providing reliable product measurements, metrology helps to improve overall quality assurance and dependability in manufacturing — and it’s one of our specialties at IIA.

Mastering Modern Metrology

As one of North America’s most trusted providers of laboratory services, IIA is proud to provide metrology services and expertise to our nation’s military and many highly regulated industries, including aerospace, medical, food and beverage, and more.

Our proven testing techniques translate seamlessly from conventional manufacturing to 3D printing, precision manufacturing, and Industry 4.0. Whether a part or product is manufactured with standard metals, exotic alloys, biomaterials or plastics, IIA can deliver the quality data you need.

Our Metrology Capabilities

IIA offers metrology services for every industry and in every phase of the product life cycle. Our capabilities include:

  • Dimensional Inspection
  • Advanced GD&T Inspection
  • Advanced 3D Scanning
  • Modeling
  • Analysis
  • Reverse Engineering

Our accredited labs offer one-stop solutions to a wide variety of measurement, inspection, reverse engineering, 3D scanning, CT scanning, modeling, part sorting, and quality-related needs.

Our Equipment

There are many ways to measure and inspect a manufactured product. That’s why IIA has amassed and developed an impressive array of state-of-the-art measuring instruments, equipment and technology to provide accurate and reliable measurements for your applications.

Our toolkit includes blue and red-light laser scanners, CT scanners, touch probe CMMs, optical CMMs, profilometers, and more. Our technicians are skilled in choosing the right equipment for each project.

From a few points of data to thousands of points, each type of equipment has strengths and weaknesses, depending on the application. We consider the tolerances of the blueprint, the type of material, and the geometry of the product to match the right tool with each project.

  • Touch Probe Coordinate Measuring Machines (CMM) are the most widely used instrument to capture tactile data of a physical component. These can be used to extract singular points or many points when used in scanning mode. The data provides feedback on distances and features and allows for comparison between them. This type of equipment is extremely accurate and versatile.
  • Vision CMMs utilize highly accurate cameras in conjunction with the accurate movement of the instrument to gather image data of distances and features. These also can gather singular points of data or many points. When materials are very soft, fragile, or easily scratched, a vision system may be the perfect tool to get the job done.
  • 3D Laser Scanning Equipment enables our team to capture a very large amount of data very quickly. Products can range in size from a penny to an airplane or larger. There is a tradeoff between the amount of data and the accuracy of the data, but to obtain feedback on manufacturing processes, 3D laser scanning is one of the best options.
  • Industrial CT Scanning Equipment is a highly accurate way of capturing large amounts of data, and is ideal for obtaining data about internal features and geometry. However, it lacks the speed of laser scanning equipment. With some limitations in material type and size, this application isn’t for every product, but does a fantastic job when it’s the right fit.

Going Above & Beyond

Beyond the standard equipment, IIA is home to some unique technologies that allow us to provide an even higher level of service.

For example, our lab in Irvine, California, proudly houses one of the largest CMMs available at a service lab in the United States. Uniquely equipped with a Hexagon HP-C-VE vision sensor, the Brown & Sharpe Global Image 153010 measures large, intricate parts (up to 5’ x 9’) with unparalleled precision. With the capacity to capture millions of data points per second, our Global Image CMM allows IIA to deliver meticulous measurements of parts ranging from auto body panels and aircraft wings to surgical instruments and circuit boards.

On-Site Measurement Services

When it’s not practical to deliver your part to us, IIA will bring our premier dimensional inspections right to your door. Our on-site measurement services are ideal for customers who need to measure large, heavy or immobile parts or structures — or for parts too delicate to ship.

We offer an extensive array of precision on-site measurement services using innovative technologies, including laser tracking, dynamic retro-reflective tracking, portable coordinate measuring (such as articulating arms), photogrammetry, and structured light scanning (white light or blue light). Our on-site, contact/non-contact measurement solutions allow for great flexibility, often with near laboratory-grade accuracy. Our mobile 3D scanning capabilities provide on-site, real-time analysis that can help manufacturers avoid or minimize a line shutdown.

Why Choose IIA?

Metrology plays a crucial role in creating functional products that fill our lives. Without the use of metrology in manufacturing, large assemblies such as automobiles or airplanes would likely never assemble reliably and medical devices may not perform as intended.

IIA’s state-of-the-art technologies, coupled with our staff of highly skilled, trained, and experienced professionals, allow us to provide consistently high-quality, yet cost-effective, services that are unmatched in the industry. The end result for our customers is impartial, unbiased, and comprehensive dimensional measurement data they can depend on. and we understand GD&T and ASME standards.

There is a very real ethical responsibility involved with working in quality control, and it’s something we take very seriously at IIA. As a trusted partner to manufacturers across North America, you can count on IIA’s unparalleled accuracy and integrity to safeguard your project — and your reputation.


What Our Customers Are Saying:

“When we need to know more about critical dimensions, we call on IIA.”

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