MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA-The threat of a second economic downturn has cast a gloom over various verticals, causing them to carefully plan capital expenditure and opt for cost-effective alternatives, according to new analysis fromFrost & Sullivan . This situation bodes well for the dimensional metrology services market, as even its premium inspection services are more affordable than a new precision system. Customers with low-volume processes account for almost a third of inspection service contracts. These customers also consider outright equipment purchase an unnecessary expense.

Analysis of the global metrology services market finds that the market earned revenues of $382.6 million in 2011 and estimates this to reach $529.6 million in 2016.

Dimensional metrology services have also got a boost from the lack of a universal system that can be applied across verticals. Every technology has a limitation. Although some are the best fit for a particular system, they can be unfit for other applications.

"Large, top-tier customers can afford different types of equipment that serve all required applications," says Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Vigneshwaran Shanmugam. "However, small-to mid-size companies prefer to outsource their dimensional inspection requirements, because it gives them access to numerous technologies at low prices."

Expensive precision systems are gradually phasing out, making way for attractively priced metrology systems. As this happens, service providers will be watching the metrology market closely. Additionally, the market will be buoyed by the lack of technical expertise among end users.

"A shortage of skilled precision machine operators is a continual problem in the metrology market that drives end users to outsource metrology services," Shanmugam. Adds. "In most cases, customers have little or no knowledge of the data collection process, making a robust case for inspection services companies."