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Laser Tracer
Apr 2008
National Physical LaboratoryRequest Info
A Mobile System for Measurement Applications
TEDDINGTON, England, April 15, 2008 -- The National Physical Laboratory (NPL), the UK’s national measurement institute, said its new Laser Tracer measurement system will bring laboratory-level standards to the shop floor by enabling significantly improved calibration times, minimizing machine downtime for manufacturers.

Laser Tracer relies on a highly stable laser source and an NPL-patented internal design that is mechanically and thermally decoupled from the tracking mechanism, providing stability and accuracy of measurement. It is a high-speed, ultraprecise, mobile system for the calibration and verification of coordinate-measuring machines (CMM), CNC (computer numerical control) machine tools, and other measurement applications, NPL said.
The Laser Tracer measurement system. (Image courtesy NPL/Etalon)
Like conventional laser techniques, Laser Tracer locks out the machine during tool or CMM probe. It uses the laser to track a reflector mounted on the machine during tool or CMM probe. The system automatically drives the tool during the measurement cycle for the machine test and then guides the user in simple steps through the testing process. The internal algorithm ensures self-calibration of the system during the test and enables all machine error contribution with unprecedented precision.

Measurement routines can be performed without the need for highly skilled technicians and are significantly quicker than existing traditional methods, NPL said. Uncertainties of measurements are generated in real time with a comprehensive test report or UKAS calibration certificate produced at the point of measurement.

Automatic correction of stored error maps is also available for many machine types with new machines being supported every month and the measurement procedure is designed to meet the requirements of the emerging standard ISO10360-2, according to the lab.

“With the Laser Tracer, NPL is bringing cutting-edge measurement standards only ever seen before in national standards laboratories direct to the customer in their place of work. Machines can now be calibrated in less than three hours, rather than the current time of up to two days, and with greatly improved accuracy that will ultimately save time and increase productivity for businesses. NPL can also provide complementary consultancy and support, on site, to diagnose and solve production critical measurement problems for companies," said Laser Tracer Product Manager David Lowther.

NPL and its partner, Etalon, are unveiling the Laser Tracer April 21-25 in Birmingham, England, at Mach 2008, the manufacturing technologies trade show organized by the Machine Tool and Engineering Association.

For more information, visit:; e-mail:

National Physical Laboratory
Hampton Road
Middlesex, England 
TW11 0LW
Phone: +44 20-8943-6315
Fax: +44 20-8614-0446


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The technology of generating and harnessing light and other forms of radiant energy whose quantum unit is the photon. The science includes light emission, transmission, deflection, amplification and detection by optical components and instruments, lasers and other light sources, fiber optics, electro-optical instrumentation, related hardware and electronics, and sophisticated systems. The range of applications of photonics extends from energy generation to detection to communications and...
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