History of Industrial Metrology

  • How it all started

    How it all started

    Since the early days, industrial metrology and the Carl Zeiss Company have always been closely connected. Precision measuring is needed wherever production accuracy is a must. Thus, it is no wonder that the first scientist at Carl Zeiss – Ernst Abbe – not only revolutionized the making of microscopes, but also introduced significant innovations in the areas of metrology. Industrial Metrology repeatedly came up with new and groundbreaking ideas, thereby pushing back the limits of what was physically possible and generating new markets. After the first measuring devices, derived from microscopes, contact and then multisensor metrology emerged and dominated the market. Today, the precision metrology of Carl Zeiss ensures that even the most demanding standards are maintained when achieving the very highest degree of precision is an absolute must.

  • 1890 – 1914


    Ernst Abbe develops a thickness gauge that makes use of the comparator principle named after him, one of the most important fundamental rules of metrology.

  • 1915 – 1945


    Length measuring machine based on the Eppenstein principle.


    First universal measuring microscope.

  • 1946 – 1989


    UMM universal measuring microscope.


    First digital measuring instruments with electronic numerical output of measuring values.


    UMM 500 – Carl Zeiss launches the first CNC coordinate measuring machine with a measuring probe head and an HP 9810 computer. Workpieces can now be measured at an accuracy of 0.5 µm without prior alignment.


    WMM 550/850 – a new line for shop floor operation


    UMC 850 – scanning coordinate measuring machines for the measuring lab. WMM hardware is combined with a measuring probe head for scanning operation.


    In collaboration with the Ford factories in Cologne, a WMM 850 tool measuring machine is integrated directly into the production machines instead of merely being next to them.

  • 1990 – 1997


    PRISMO VAST 3D coordinate measuring machine for high-speed, shop floor measurement of size, shape, and position; ULM 600 universal length measuring machine, a highly accurate universal instrument; ZKM 250 CNC two-coordinate measuring machine, the most accurate opto-mechanical measuring instrument of its class.


    ScanMax – an articulating arm measuring machine designed for parts inspection directly next to production machines, it combines the accuracy and flexibility of scanning coordinate measuring machines with the robustness, user friendliness and minimal space requirements of gauges

  • 1998 – today


    Introducing the Navigator principle: Measure faster than ever before – continuous and easy scanning without the stop and go.


    METROTOM® marks the development of a computer tomograph for industrial use, which meets the high metrology demands on precision in the micrometer range


    DuraMax, an economical and easy-to-use measuring machine for any workshop


    SurfMax®, the in-line tester for visual inspection rationalization and objectivation.