How to Use a Micrometer

You can use several devices to ensure that dimensions are correct, with varying degrees of accuracy. Tape measures, callipers, optical comparators, and other types of measuring tools can be used to measure. One of the most popular and accurate tools for measuring is the micrometer. It is a powerful tool for checking dimensions. 

What is a Micrometer?

A micrometer is a device used to measure flat surfaces or different geometries such as the inner diameter or thickness of a pipe. A micrometer consists of a sleeve with a scale, a thimble with a scale, a Vernier scale (or just one digital scale), and two surfaces, known as the anvil and the spindle. The thimble and the spindle connected to a high precision screw used to move the spindle gives precise and measurable distances.

A micrometer is finite in the distances it can be used to measure. Micrometers are classified into different sizes in 1 inch or 25mm windows (such as 1”-2” micrometer, 2”-3” micrometer, 125mm-150mm micrometer).

The three primary types of micrometers are:

  • Inside micrometers – for measuring inner dimensions.
  • Outside micrometers – for measuring outside dimensions.
  • Depth micrometers – for measuring depth dimensions.

How to Use a Micrometer?

Different types of micrometers need slightly different operating procedures. Let’s see how to use an electric micrometer.

  • Make sure the object being measured is secure by clamping it or through some type of fixture 
  • Once the part is steadily held, pick up the appropriately sized micrometer, loosen with the thimble until the spindle and the anvil can be placed outside of the surfaces on the part that is being measured
  • Once this is done, the thimble can be turned clockwise to begin to move the spindle towards the part. The spindle and the anvil should both begin to press against the part. Make sure that no excessive force is applied to the thimble here. Too much force can skew measurements and they would be smaller than the actual dimensions of the part. Several micrometers come with a ratchet on the thimble to prevent this from happening.
  • Once the anvil and the spindle are placed into simultaneous contact with the part, you can read the scale of the micrometer.

Reading a Micrometer

For reading, the object should be held firm enough to not fall out of the micrometer under its own weight but gentle enough to slip away easily if grasped. If necessary, you can apply the lock nut to prevent the spindle from tightening or loosening while reading the measurement. You can look at the lines on the spindle and finds which markings are aligned with the datum line. This line is the measurement.

Digital Micrometer

A digital micrometer is easier to read than an electric micrometer. The major difference in the case of digital micrometer is that as the thimble is turned, a digital readout is produced. Digital micrometers offer great advantage in terms of time savings and reduction in operator error. But they are generally expensive than the electric micrometer. 

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