Metrology is defined as the science and study of measurement. The term originated from the Greek word “metron,” which means ‘to measure.’ Metrology is an extensive science and consists of three main subcategories, scientific, legal and industrial metrology. In this article we will discuss what each subcategory is and why it is important.


Scientific metrology, also known as fundamental metrology, deals with the setting and organizing of measurement standards and the establishment of measurement units, quantity systems and unit systems. Scientific metrology also consists of the development of new measurement methods and the transfer of measurement traceability. To ensure the International System of Units is maintained during each of these processes, several organizations such as, the International Bureau of Weights and Measures (BIPM) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), regulate all scientific findings and settings.


Legal metrology deals with the accuracy and reliability of measurements. This type of metrology study ensures that measured values meet legal requirements, especially when it comes to healthcare, public safety and the environment. The International Organization for Legal Metrology (OIML) regulates all legal requirements of metrology.


Industrial metrology is what most of us deal with every day. This subcategory focuses on the application of measurements to industrial processes, in particularly manufacturing. Industrial metrology is used for ensuring measurement instruments are functioning adequately, in other words, it is needed for calibration and measurement control. Due to the hands-on nature of industrial metrology, it is arguably one of the most important subcategories.

Metrology also plays a big role in our economy. For example, consumer protection and fair trading count on all three subcategories of metrology to ensure overall equity and fairness. A uniform system of measurement units and accurate measuring instruments are needed to assure that both fairness and equity are achieved.

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