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Dimensional Measurement Services


The Dimensional Measurement Services (DMS) project delivers unique high-accuracy length based calibrations that are essential to global trade, supports basic research and spurs innovation by providing a path for traceability to the SI unit of length. We perform thousands of artifact-based calibrations and develop unique high-value measurement solutions to address critical measurement needs of industry and academic and government institutions.


Prototype NIST developed Next-Gen fiber probe for inspection of small critical features.
Figure 1. Prototype NIST developed Next-Gen fiber probe for inspection of small critical features. If successful this effort will enable NIST to offer new measurement services for small features with large length to width aspect ratios.

The Dimensional Measurement Services project promotes manufacturing innovation and U.S. industrial competitiveness by providing critical technology-enabling high accuracy dimensional measurements within an internationally accepted quality system. These measurements span the dimensional metrology needs over length scales ranging from micrometers to meters. Our measurements are targeted to provide measurement results that are either of very high value to our customers or high leverage into the industrial metrology community where a single calibration may propagate into hundreds or thousands of subsequent measurement results. This is accomplished by taking state-of-the-art equipment and optimizing the performance using superior environmental control, process development, and other metrology techniques. Rigorous focus on continuous improvement and flexibility of our measurement systems result in state of the art traditional measurement services and in many cases unique capability unmatched at the industrial or NMI level. Research efforts target industrial needs for smaller uncertainty, faster turnaround, and expanded measurement capabilities.

OD Micrometer Update
Figure 2. Development continues on the 4th generation laser interferometer based micrometer for the measurement of cylindrical diameter standards (wires and cylinders). The majority of structure is Invar.
Historical Publications on Dimensional Metrology:

Major Accomplishments




  • Improved efficiency of our gage block interferometer, used for master and customer gage block interferometry (L < 100mm), by up to 25 % by integrating image acquisition using a camera and semi-automated fringe fraction analysis.
  • MSP Corporation (NIST micro-feature customer) publishes article in Inhalation December 2013 issue, a pharmaceutical industry publication, acknowledging the NIST contribution and bringing attention to what they learned from our measurements. NIST contact measurements of a micro-hole standard designed by MSP to mimic the actual product features helped MSP quantify a small but relevant difference, which they had suspected, between two-dimensional optical measurements of bore diameter and the actual physical bore diameter. Optical system inspection is the most practical and economical means for inspection, however with this difference now quantified they can adjust the manufactured product size to ensure compliance with specifications.
  • Acquired a unique Moore M48 coordinate measuring machine (CMM). While our current M48 CMMs are the best of their type in the world, this newly acquired unique M48 has evacuated laser paths as scales which avoids the uncertainty in the index of refraction of air correction; our largest source of uncertainty. This new machine may decrease our measurement uncertainty by a factor of 25 % to 50 %.


  • NPL designed Hexagon Automated Phase Stepping Gauge Block Interferometer for Long Gage Blocks (L = 300 mm) brought online.
  • From initial-to-final prototype, NIST and CyberOptics Corporation (Solder Paste Inspections System Manufacturer) work together to improve micro-volume calibration standard geometric quality necessary to achieve desired volumetric measurement uncertainty. Co-publication with CyberOptics: Two applications of small feature dimensional measurements on a coordinate measuring machine with a fiber probe, Meas. Sci. and Technol. 24 (2013)
  • NIST and NRC (Canada) staff share best practices through a series of in-laboratory hands-on technical exchanges here and at NRC.

Technical Goals:

Develop and deliver measurements, standards, and infrastructural technologies that address critical needs for innovation and traceable metrology, process control and quality in manufacturing for length scales from micrometers to meters. 

  • Engineering Metrology Toolbox-An array of mechanisms we make available to our customers to help them achieve high-accuracy dimensional measurements traceable to national and international standards.
Created April 18, 2013, Updated October 1, 2018