Micro parts are increasingly found in a number of industrial products. They often have complex geometrical features in the millimeter to micrometer range which are not accessible or difficult to measure by conventional coordinate measuring machines or by optical microscopy techniques. In the last years, several concepts of tactile micro coordinate measuring machines have been developed in research laboratories and were partly commercialized by industry. The major challenges were related to the development of innovative micro probes, to the requirements for traceability and to the performance assessment at reduced measurement uncertainty. This paper presents a review on state of the art developments of micro coordinate measuring machines and 3D micro probes in the last 20 years, as far as these were qualified in a comparable way, with a special emphasis on research conducted by the Federal Institute of Metrology METAS in this field. It outlines the accuracy limitations for the probe head including the probing element and for the geometrical errors of the machine axes. Finally, the achieved performances are summarized and the challenges for further research are addressed.
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