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THE MICROMETER

A micrometer (/makrmtr/ US dict: mkrmtr), sometimes known as a micrometer screw


gauge, is a device incorporating a calibrated screw widely used for precise measurement of
components in mechanical engineering and machining as well as most mechanical trades, along
with other metrological instruments such as dial, vernier, and digital calipers. Micrometers are
usually, but not always, in the form of calipers (opposing ends joined by a frame), which is
why micrometer caliper is another common name. The spindle is a very accurately machined
screw and the object to be measured is placed between the spindle and the anvil. The spindle is
moved by turning the ratchet knob or thimble until the object to be measured is lightly touched
by both the spindle and the anvil.

Basic types
Large micrometer caliper.

The topmost image shows the three most common types of


micrometer; the names are based on their application:

Outside micrometer (aka micrometer caliper), typically

used to measure wires, spheres, shafts and blocks.

Inside micrometer, used to measure the diameter of

holes.

Depth micrometer, measures depths of slots and steps.

Specialized types
Each type of micrometer caliper can be fitted with specialized anvils and spindle tips for particular
measuring tasks. For example, the anvil may be shaped in the form of a segment of screw thread, in the
form of a v-block, or in the form of a large disc.
Universal micrometer sets come with interchangeable anvils, such as flat, spherical, spline, disk, blade,
point, and knife-edge. The term universal micrometer may also refer to a type of micrometer whose
frame has modular components, allowing one micrometer to function as outside mic, depth mic, step
mic, etc. (often known by the brand names Mul-T-Anvil and Uni-Mike).
Blade micrometers have a matching set of narrow tips (blades). They allow, for example, the measuring
of a narrow o-ring groove.
Pitch-diameter micrometers (aka thread mics) have a matching set of thread-shaped tips for measuring
the pitch diameter of screw threads.
Limit mics have two anvils and two spindles, and are used like a snap gauge. The part being checked
must pass through the first gap and must stop at the second gap in order to be within specification. The
two gaps accurately reflect the top and bottom of the tolerance range.
Bore micrometer, typically a three-anvil head on a micrometer base used to accurately measure inside
diameters.
Tube micrometers have a cylindrical anvil positioned perpendicularly to a spindle and is used to
measure the thickness of tubes.
Micrometer stops are micrometer heads that are mounted on the table of a manual milling machine,
bedways of a lathe, or other machine tool, in place of simple stops. They help the operator to position

the table or carriage precisely. Stops can also be used to actuate kickout mechanisms or limit switches to
halt an automatic feed system.
Ball micrometers have ball-shaped (spherical) anvils. They may have one flat and one ball anvil, in which
case they are used for measuring tube wall thickness, distance of a hole to an edge, and other distances
where one anvil must be placed against a rounded surface. They differ in application from tube
micrometers in that they may be used to measure against rounded surfaces which are not tubes, but the
ball anvil may also not be able to fit into smaller tubes as easily as a tube micrometer. Ball micrometers
with a pair of balls can be used when single-tangential-point contact is desired on both sides. The most
common example is in measuring the pitch diameter of screw threads (which is also done with conical
anvils or the 3-wire method, the latter of which uses similar geometry as the pair-of-balls approach).
Bench micrometers are tools for inspection use whose accuracy and precision are around half a
micrometre (20 millionths of an inch, "a fifth of a tenth" in machinist jargon) and whose repeatability is
around a quarter micrometre ("a tenth of a tenth"). An example is the Pratt &
Whitney Supermicrometer brand.
Digit mics are the type with mechanical digits that roll over.
Digital mics are the type that uses an encoder to detect the distance and displays the result on a digital
screen.
V mics are outside mics with a small V-block for an anvil. They are useful for measuring the diameter of
a circle from three points evenly spaced around it (versus the two points of a standard outside
micrometer). An example of when this is necessary is measuring the diameter of 3-flute endmills and
twist drills.

PARTS
Frame The C-shaped body that holds the anvil and barrel in constant relation to each other. It is thick
because it needs to minimize flexion, expansion, and contraction, which would distort the
measurement. The frame is heavy and consequently has a high thermal mass, to prevent substantial
heating up by the holding hand/fingers. It is often covered by insulating plastic plates which further
reduce heat transference.
Explanation: if you hold the frame long enough so that it heats up by 10C, then the increase in length of
any 10 cm linear piece of steel is of magnitude 1/100 mm. For micrometers this is their typical accuracy
range. Micrometers typically have a specified temperature at which the measurement is correct (often
20C [68F], which is generally considered "room temperature" in a room with HVAC). Toolrooms are
generally kept at 20C [68F].
Anvil The shiny part that the spindle moves toward, and that the sample rests against.
Sleeve / barrel / stock The stationary round part with the linear scale on it. Sometimes vernier
markings.
Lock nut / lock-ring / thimble lock The knurled part (or lever) that one can tighten to hold the spindle
stationary, such as when momentarily holding a measurement.
Screw (not seen) The heart of the micrometer, as explained under "Operating principles". It is inside the
barrel. (No wonder that the usual name for the device in German is Messschraube, literally "measuring
screw".)
Spindle The shiny cylindrical part that the thimble causes to move toward the anvil.
Thimble The part that one's thumb turns. Graduated markings.
Ratchet stop (not shown in illustration) Device on end of handle that limits applied pressure by
slipping at a calibrated torque.

The micrometer is a precision measuring instrument, used by engineers. Each revolution of the rachet moves
the spindle face 0.5mm towards the anvil face. The object to be measured is placed between the anvil face
and the spindle face. The rachet is turned clockwise until the object is trapped between these two surfaces
and the rachet makes a clicking noise. This means that the rachet cannot be tightened any more and the
measurement can be read.

EXAMPLE MEASURE READINGS


Using the first example seen below:
1. Read the scale on the sleeve. The example clearly shows12 mm divisions.
2. Still reading the scale on the sleeve, a further mm (0.5) measurement can be seen on the bottom half of
the scale. The measurement now reads 12.5mm.
3. Finally, the thimble scale shows 16 full divisions (these are hundredths of a mm).
The final measurement is 12.5mm + 0.16mm = 12.66

THE VERNIER CALIPER


The Vernier Caliper is a precision instrument that can be used to measure internal and external distances
extremely accurately. The example shown below is a manual caliper. Measurements are interpreted from the scale
by the user. This is more difficult than using a digital vernier caliper which has an LCD digital display on which the
reading appears. The manual version has both an imperial and metric scale.
Manually operated vernier calipers can still be bought and remain popular because they are much cheaper than
the digital version. Also, the digital version requires a small battery whereas the manual version does not need any
power source.

The rail (4) allows sliding to occur on the main scale (7) moving the vernier scale (3) while the fixed jaw
(11) remains in place so the precise measurement is found. Also, draw back and forth (9) the
instrument's jaws (parts 1 and 10) to adjust the caliper. The indicated measurement is found at the left of
the vernier scale (3 and 8) either in inches or centimeters. The sliding jaw (9) and the depth probe (5) are
connected to and move along with the vernier scale. Deep measurements are taken by the use of the
front end of the rail (6).Inside jaws: Internal length measurements are found by using this part.
1. Retainer or locking screw: This part blocks the instrument's movable parts in order to transfer
between measurement methods easily.
2. Vernier scale (inch)
3. Rail (inch)
4. Depth probe: The part used in order to find depth measurements
5. Front end of the rail
6. Main scale (mm)
7. Vernier scale (mm)
8. Sliding Jaw
9. Outside jaws: This part makes measuring external lengths possible.
10. Fixed Jaw

HOW TO READ A MEASUREMENT FROM THE SCALES


EXAMPLE 1: The external measurement (diameter) of a round section piece of steel is measured using a
vernier caliper, metric scale.
MATHEMATICAL METHOD
A. The main metric scale is read first and this shows that there are
13 whole divisions before the 0 on the hundredths scale. Therefore,
the first number is 13.
B. The hundredths of mm scale is then read. The best way to do
this is to count the number of divisions until you get to the division
that lines up with the main metric scale. This is 21 divisions on the
hundredths scale.
C. This 21 is multiplied by 0.02 giving 0.42 as the answer (each
division on the hundredths scale is equivalent to 0.02mm).
D. The 13 and the 0.42 are added together to give the final
measurement of 13.42mm (the diameter of the piece of round
section steel)

COMMONSENSE METHOD
Alternatively, it is just as easy to read the 13 on the main
scale and 42 on the hundredths scale. The correct
measurement being 13.42mm.