Frequently Asked Questions

What is a laser tracker?

Laser trackers from API are instruments that accurately measure large objects by using a laser to determine the positions of optical targets held against those objects. They perform like portable Coordinate Measuring Machines (CMM) and are accurate enough to detect micron level differences. Some examples of laser tracker applications are the alignment of aircraft wings during assembly and the alignment of large machine tools.

How can a laser tracker help improve my measurement process?

The Radian and Omnitrac 2 laser trackers help to solve the everyday measurement challenges as well as complex problems that simply weren’t previously possible. Complete jobs faster, reduce downtime, eliminating costly scrap, and getting accurate, consistent, and reportable measurement data.

What is the difference between Hollow and Prismatic SMRs?

Prismatic SMRs: have a solid glass prism corner cube inside a machined steel sphere. This configuration helps protect the reflective surface and provides a very robust SMR with long linear range of measurement, while retaining a high degree of accuracy. The Prismatic SMR can be used for outdoor applications, where high concentrations of dust may be in the environment.

Hollow SMRs: are constructed using a hollow aluminum optic coated with golden reflective surfaces. API uses a special gold surface to improve the range of measurement. API’s hollow SMRs have a linear distance up to 80m. Hollow SMRs are design for the highest in accuracy. For measurements requiring such high accuracy, a hollow SMR is the appropriate choice.

Linear Measurement Range Centering Precision Operation Accuracy Wear Resistance
API Prismatic SMR Best Good Good Best
API Break Resistant SMR – Standard Better Better Better Good
API Break Resistant SMR – Precision Better Best Best Good
Why is it important to periodically replace your SMR?

It is important to routinely replace your SMRs to maintain the integrity of your measurements.

  • Dust gathers inside the SMR causing reduction in the intensity of the beam. This affects your tracker’s range and the accuracy of measurements
  • Cleaning an SMR any way other than using compressed air or rinsing with rubbing alcohol is detrimental to the device. Wiping with a rag could result in a scratch to the inner gold plating, diminishing the SMR’s accuracy
  • Although our SMRs are break-resistant, dropping an SMR can flatten out the surface of the outer ball. An SMR that is not perfectly round could cause centering issues
  • As you drag it across different surfaces, the outer ball will flatten – in turn, throwing off your centering


What if I can’t afford to buy a piece of equipment?

Can’t afford a laser tracker at this time? Not to worry! API offers affordable leasing and renting programs. You can even have us take care of the job for you – check out our Contract Measurement Services!