J Res NIST 113-3; 10p. May-June 2008.
End standard; gage blocks; process control; stability; technical obsolescence; thermal expansion.
Gauge blocks have been the primary method for disseminating length traceability for over 100 years. Their longevity was based on two things: the relatively low cost of delivering very high accuracy to users, and the technical limitation that the range of high precision gauging systems was very small. While the first reason is still true, the second factor is being displaced by changes in measurement technology since the 1980s. New long range sensors do not require master gauges that are nearly the same length as the part being inspected, and thus one of the primary attributes of gauge blocks, wringing stacks to match the part, is no longer needed. Relaxing the requirement that gauges wring presents an opportunity to develop new types of end standards that would increase the accuracy and usefulness of gauging systems.