Friday, June 3, 2011

3D Metrology Companies' Conduct Covers Customers

EDIT: After re-reading this post several times, we have reached the conclusion that it is, perhaps a bit negative/antagonistic and therefore boring. However, we still believe it is newsworthy, and therefore we are leaving it up. The purpose of this blog is to shed light on the 3D metrology industry at large, and therefore hopefully spark thought, debate, or criticism.

3D Metrology companies are a strange lot. They work closely with the world's leading manufacturers, in high-technology environments, and often have access to proprietary information regarding defective parts, R&D cycles, blueprints, etc. Large manufacturing companies have safeguards in place to ensure that the 3D metrology companies don't get too close to their "secret sauce," but the fact is that even a little bit of information is dangerous.

...which is why we're constantly surprised at the number of 3D metrology companies that publish their customers' "case studies," and "applications notes," and "problems solved." As if the 3D metrology company rode in on a white horse, solved the company's multi-million dollar problem all by themselves, and then shared their resounding success with the world.

It doesn't quite work that way.

Even stranger, still, is when we see a slew of corporate logos published across the 3D metrology company's "Customers" web page. In most cases, it looks like they right-clicked on the customer's website, and clicked on "Save Target As..." and pasted the image directly onto their own website. Do you honestly, in your heart of hearts, think that this multibillion dollar brand, this corporate giant, this Fortune 1000 conglomerate, this icon, pillar, and symbol of the world's manufacturing prowess gave permission to paste their Trademarked corporate logo on a puny 3D metrology company's website? As if, somehow they're "partners" in their quest?

A cursory check of various companies' "reprint permissions" page on their website shows that some companies allow logo utilization, whereas others don't.

An interesting excercise would be to find the companies that don't allow reprints, and to ask the 3D metrology company for proof, from the conglomerate's legal department, that they have permission to use their customer's logo.

There are laws that protect against this sort of stuff. They're called Copyright and Trademark laws.

Which poses the question -- if a 3D metrology company is pasting a customer company's logo without permission in plain view, what are they doing behind closed doors?

Beyond the company logo, there are often "case studies," which show, in plain view, "problems" that the large manufacturing company had in one of their products. As if it's the 3D metrology company's job to show the world the "problems" they found -- again, proudly displayed on their website (funny that the large 3D manufacturing companies don't show these "case studies" on their websites...). These are also sometimes displayed as "Sample Images" on the 3D metrology metrology company's website.

In conclusion, although this blog post has little to do with the science of 3D metrology, it does attempt to bring out an important point - the 3D metrology industry, in addition to science, is also an industry of conduct.

To be fair, in many cases, the 3D metrology companies actually do receive permission -- but those aren't the ones that matter -- the ones that matter are when the 3D metrology companies don't receive permission.

How is your 3D metrology supplier conducting themselves? You have a right to find out, check them out, and ask them to justify their every action. After all, they're close to your products -- and therefore you have a right to be close to theirs.

We sincerely hope this post is simply a puff of hot air, and everyone in the 3D metrology industry is conducting themselves as a perfect angel. But, it's up to you, the customer, to decide.

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