10 Qualities of an Advanced Metrology Lab

Accuracy, time, technology and more... read the full list of key factors to consider.

Victoria Russman
Victoria Russman

When it comes to industrial metrology, the accuracy of measurements is paramount. But when it comes to finding the right laboratory for your project, what qualities should you be looking for? In this blog post, we'll discuss 10 key qualities that you should look for when considering an advanced industrial metrology lab. We'll cover topics such as state-of-the-art technology, experienced staff, accreditation standards, and more. With this information in hand, you can make an informed decision on the best lab for your project. Read on to find out more!

1. Accurate and reliable results with accreditation:

This is at the top of the list for a reason. Formal third-party evaluations, reputation, customer testimonials, referrals; don’t hesitate to ask for these during your discovery process. Some manufacturers require accreditation. Even if it is not a requirement, you can be sure it is an added layer of protection and confirmation the lab is adhering to international measurement standards. Accreditation shows that the lab is well versed in its accuracy and publishes their uncertainty of metrology systems.  

2. Experienced staff with advanced metrology expertise:

Especially in advanced 3D scanning; if the operator can’t provide a clear image, how will you be able to fully see the outcome? Well-trained technicians should understand how the chosen technology interacts with your parts, materials, and densities. They should understand statistical variability and data trends. The metrology lab should have diverse experience with difficult projects and fully understand GD&T. In addition, they should have a deep understanding of ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) dimensioning and tolerancing standards.

3. Comprehensive services to meet the needs of a wide range of industries:

A diverse mix of services means a diverse mix of problem solving skills. Not everyone is looking for the same metrology services. An industrial metrology lab will likely offer services like comprehensive 3D measurement, surface characteristic measurement, internal & external geometries, reverse engineering, 3D scan to CAD, dimensional inspection, flaw detection, capability studies, color mapping, and engineering support.

4. Advanced measurement capabilities including 3D scanning, CT scanning and more:

The use of cutting-edge technology backed by expertise in the industry is key in determining time, cost, and results for your project. Seek out a metrology lab that uses the latest metrology-grade equipment and advanced metrology software. Computed tomography (CT) is one of the newest and most advanced scanning technologies used in conjunction with interrogation software like Volume Graphics. GOM, Calypso, Geomagic Design X, and PC-DMIS are some other respected softwares used in the metrology industry. Look for structured light scanners, CMM, and vision systems, too. Sizing and capacity needs must be a part of the conversation. The metrology lab should also discuss your intentions for the data and how it can be delivered for optimum usage.

5. Calibration traceable to national standards:

Part of the accreditation process for metrology labs is measurement traceability.  It’s the best way to determine if their equipment is up to par, accurate, and able to perform. It is how the property of measurement results relate to specified NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) standards.

6. Quality assurance procedures to ensure consistent performance:

In addition to accreditation and measurement traceability, a good metrology lab will have their own set of testing and internal quality control procedures. Things like contract review and final inspection reduce the occurrence of typos or other clerical errors that could affect the inspection report. Look for these additional characteristics for added assurance.

7. Fast turnaround times for results:

When it comes to getting your products to market, speed dominates. Does the metrology lab offer expedited services? Do they have options for weekend or overnight work? Do they take weeks to get the job done or do they get you the data in days? You likely don’t want the hassle of multiple design or process iterations, so look for metrology services that can deliver accurate results quickly the first time.  

8. Flexible scheduling options for on-site or remote services:

Sometimes, logistically you may not be able to move machine parts or the object may be architecturally fixed in place. In this case, you would need services such as structured light, portable 3D scanners. Seek a metrology lab that offers portable scanning systems.

9. Secure data storage and transfer protocols:

The metrology lab should be able to provide useful data in a functional format. What methods are they using to share the data? How long is the data stored for future use? If you have an issue down the road, do you have to start all over again? These are not typical questions customers think of in the beginning of their engagements with metrology labs, but important none-the-less.  

10. Competitive pricing and cost-effective solutions:

As the saying goes, you get what you pay for. There are times when customers just need a scan and are looking for a discount. If that’s the case, prices should reflect this. Other times, customers need a turn-key solution, or engineering support. Not all metrology labs are set up for this level of service or expert input. If utilizing 3D scanning, the lab should be able to optimize scans for efficiency. This means they can adjust resolutions to meet deliverables or tolerance requirements or use energy settings and post-processing to bias scans according to customer needs. All of this can have an impact on scan time and number of parts per scan.

In conclusion,

When looking for an advanced industrial metrology lab, you can see there are a number of qualities to consider. With these 10 key qualities in hand, it doesn’t have to be daunting. If you would like to learn more about our metrology services, please don't hesitate to get in touch. With the right laboratory and the right team, you can ensure that your project is successful and meets all of your needs.

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