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ISO/DS Handbook Demystifies Geometrical Product Specifications

Basic rules for interpreting GPS and producing tolerancing components and products

Published: Monday, February 6, 2012 - 14:13

(ISO: Geneva) -- The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and Danish Standards (DS, the ISO member for Denmark) have jointly published a handbook on geometrical product specifications (GPS) for which nearly 120 ISO standards provide a globally harmonized base for technical drawing, with benefits for manufacturing and trade.

The ISO Geometrical Product Specifications Handbook: Find Your Way in GPS is written by Henrik S. Nielsen, Ph.D., chair of ISO technical committee ISO/TC 213, which develops GPS standards with the participation of ISO national member bodies in 23 countries.

GPS standards provide an international language of symbols for expressing tolerances in technical drawing. This makes it possible for a drawing of a component that has been developed in one country to be sent to another country on the other side of the world, where the drawing can be understood and the component manufactured, without the designer and supplier having any common language except GPS.


“The purpose of this book is partly to function as a textbook in technical schools and universities,” says Nielsen. “However, it can also be used for self-study and as a post-study reference. The aim of this book is to give the reader sufficient knowledge to, on one hand, read and interpret GPS drawings, and on the other hand have enough ‘vocabulary’ and knowledge of the grammar to express geometrical requirements for a component as correctly formulated GPS requirements.”

Through easy-to-understand color illustrations and specific examples, the handbook guides the reader through the basic rules for interpreting the graphic GPS language and provides a step-by-step procedure for tolerancing components and products using GPS.

The book also shows how everyone involved in product realization, from idea conception to manufacturing and verification, can benefit from the use of GPS. This is because GPS tolerances can express functional requirements more precisely and therefore be made larger, so that components become less expensive to produce.

The ISO Geometrical Product Specifications is available from ISO national member institutes (see the complete list with contact details). It may also be obtained directly from the ISO Store.


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The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is the world’s largest developer and publisher of international standards. ISO is a network of the national standards institutes of 162 countries, one member per country, with a Central Secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland, that coordinates the system. ISO is a nongovernmental organization that forms a bridge between the public and private sectors. ISO enables a consensus to be reached on solutions that meet both the requirements of business and the broader needs of society. View the ISO Standards list.