Brown & Sharpe is a division of Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence (Metrology)., a multinational corporation focused mainly on metrological tools and technology. During the 19th and 20th centuries, Brown & Sharpe was one of the best-known and most influential machine tool builders and was a leading manufacturer of instruments for machinists (such as micrometers and indicators). Its reputation and influence were such that its name is often considered to be inseparably paired with certain industrial standards that it helped establish, including:
The American wire gauge (AWG) standard for wire;
The Brown & Sharpe taper in machine tool spindle tapers;
The Brown & Sharpe worm thread form for worm gears.
Since being acquired by Hexagon in 2001, Brown and Sharpe has concentrated exclusively on metrology equipment.
During the 1980s and 1990s Brown & Sharpe started focusing more and more on developing coordinate-measuring machines (CMMs), devices for dimensional measuring, as a more modern and larger progression to their established micrometers. The company began to lose money as it shifted production away from machine tools and toward advanced metrology equipment.
By 1993, employment in North Kingstown had fallen to 700, compared with 2,000 in 1982 and over 3,500 in 1976. In 1994 Brown & Sharpe acquired DEA of Italy an established manufacturer of CMMs. In 2001, substantially all of the assets of the Brown & Sharpe Manufacturing Company, including the intellectual property, designs, trademarks, facilities and inventory, were acquired by Hexagon AB, without the acquisition of the Brown & Sharpe Manufacturing Company itself.
The Brown & Sharpe brand of measurement products lives on under the stewardship of the Hexagon Manufacturing Intelligence (Metrology) division of Hexagon AB, which retained many of the key individuals from the former Brown & Sharpe company. The Brown & Sharpe Global® series of CMMs encompass machines from the ideal entry level to advanced combining high accuracy and speed. The 4.5.4 SF CMM is designed for tough shop floor conditions.