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 This standard has now been replaced by commercial sector standards including ISO 9001:1994 (Ref. 3), ISO/IEC Guide 25 (Ref, 4), and the U.S. equivalent of ISO/IEC Guide 25 - ANSI/NCSL Z540-2-1997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.
In 1993, M & M Precision Systems was awarded a three-year, partial grant from the Advanced Technology Program of the Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Working with Pennsylvania State University, M&M embarked on a technology development project to advance gear measurement capabilities to levels of accuracy never before achieved.