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The status on traceability of gear artifacts in the United States.
Until recently, there was a void in the quality control of gear manufacturing in this country (Ref. 1). Gear measurements were not traceable to the international standard of length through the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The U.S. military requirement for traceability was clearly specified in the military standard MIL-STD-45662A (Ref. 2). This standard has now been replaced by commercial sector standards including ISO 9001:1994 (Ref. 3), ISO/IEC Guide 25 (Ref, 4), and the U.S. equivalent of ISO/IEC Guide 25 - ANSI/NCSL Z540-2-1997 (Ref. 5). The draft replacement to ISO/IEC Guide 25 - ISO 17025 states that measurements must either be traceable to SI units or reference to a natural constant. The implications of traceability to the U.S. gear industry are significant. In order to meet the standards, gear manufacturers must either have calibrated artifacts or establish their own traceability to SI units.
Measurement institutions of seven different countries — China, Germany, Japan, Thailand, Ukraine, United Kingdom and the U.S. — participated in the implementation of the first international comparison of involute gear measurement standards. The German metrology institute Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) was chosen as the pilot laboratory as well as the organizer. Three typical involute gear measurement standards provided by the PTB were deployed for this comparison: a profile, a helix and a pitch measurement standard. In the final analysis, of the results obtained from all participants, the weighted mean was evaluated as reference value for all 28 measured parameters. However, besides the measurement standards, the measured parameters, and, most importantly, some of the comparison results from all participants are anonymously presented. Furthermore, mishandling of the measurement standards as occurred during the comparison will be illustrated.
The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) announced at Gear Expo '95 that a national service for the calibration of involute artifacts is now available at the Department of Energy's Y-12 Plant in Oak Ridge, TN.
I noted with interest the beginning of Gear Technology's three-part series on ISO 9000 certification. I also recently attended Brown & Sharpe's/Leitz gear metrology seminar. Both events caused me to smile and reflect.