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Chapter: Mechanical : Metrology and Measurements : Linear and Angular Measurements

Linear Measuring Instruments

Linear measurement applies to measurement of lengths, diameter, heights and thickness including external and internal measurements.The instruments used for linear measurements can be classified as: 1. Direct measuring instruments 2. Indirect measuring instruments The Direct measuring instruments are of two types: 1. Graduated 2. Non Graduated



Linear measurement applies to measurement of lengths, diameter, heights and thickness including external and internal measurements. The line measuring instruments have series of accurately spaced lines marked on them e.g. Scale. The dimensions to be measured are aligned with the graduations of the scale. Linear measuring instruments are designed either for line measurements or end measurements. In end measuring instruments, the measurement is taken between two end surfaces as in micrometers, slip gauges etc.


The instruments used for linear measurements can be classified as:


1.     Direct measuring instruments


2.     Indirect measuring instruments


The Direct measuring instruments are of two types:


1.     Graduated


2.     Non Graduated


The graduated instruments include rules, vernier calipers, vernier height gauges, vernier depth gauges, micrometers, dial indicators etc.


The non graduated instruments include calipers, trammels, telescopic gauges, surface gauges, straight edges, wire gauges, screw pitch gauges, radius gauges, thickness gauges, slip gauges etc.


They can also be classified as


1.     Non precision instruments such as steel rule, calipers etc.,


2.     Precision measuring instruments, such as vernier instruments, micrometers, dial gauges etc.




·        The most common tool for crude measurements is the scale (also known as rules, or rulers).

·        Although plastic, wood and other materials are used for common scales, precision scales use tempered steel alloys, with graduations scribed onto the surface.


·        These are limited by the human eye. Basically they are used to compare two dimensions.


·        The metric scales use decimal divisions, and the imperial scales use fractional divisions.


·        Some scales only use the fine scale divisions at one end of the scale. It is advised that the end of the scale not be used for measurement. This is because as they become worn with use, the end of the scale will no longer be at a `zero' position.


·        Instead the internal divisions of the scale should be used. Parallax error can be a factor when making measurements with a scale.





Caliper is an instrument used for measuring distance between or over surfaces comparing dimensions of work pieces with such standards as plug gauges, graduated rules etc. Calipers may be difficult to use, and they require that the operator follow a few basic rules, do not force them, they will bend easily, and invalidate measurements made. If measurements are made using calipers for comparison, one operator should make all of the measurements (this keeps the feel factor a minimal error source). These instruments are very useful when dealing with hard to reach locations that normal measuring instruments cannot reach. Obviously the added step in the measurement will significantly decrease the accuracy.






The vernier instruments generally used in workshop and engineering metrology have comparatively low accuracy. The line of measurement of such instruments does not coincide with the line of scale. The accuracy therefore depends upon the straightness of the beam and the squareness of the sliding jaw with respect to the beam. To ensure the squareness, the sliding jaw must be clamped before taking the reading. The zero error must also be taken into consideration. Instruments are now available with a measuring range up to one meter with a scale value of 0.1 or 0.2 mm.


Types of Vernier Calipers


According to Indian Standard IS: 3651-1974, three types of vernier calipers have been specified to make external and internal measurements and are shown in figures respectively. All the three types are made with one scale on the front of the beam for direct reading.


Type A: Vernier has jaws on both sides for external and internal measurements and a blade for depth measurement.

Type B: It is provided with jaws on one side for external and internal measurements.

Type  C:  It  has  jaws  on  both  sides  for  making  the  measurement  and  for  marking



Errors in Calipers


The degree of accuracy obtained in measurement greatly depends upon the condition of the jaws of the calipers and a special attention is needed before proceeding for the measurement. The accuracy and natural wear, and warping of Vernier caliper jaws should be tested frequently by closing them together tightly and setting them to 0-0 point of the main and Vernier scales.





There are two types in it.


(i) Outside micrometer — To measure external dimensions.

(ii)             Inside micrometer — To measure internal dimensions.



An outside micrometer is shown. It consists of two scales, main scale and thimble scale. While the pitch of barrel screw is 0.5 mm the thimble has graduation of 0.01 mm. The least count of this micrometer is 0.01 mm.


The micrometer requires the use of an accurate screw thread as a means of obtaining a measurement. The screw is attached to a spindle and is turned by movement of a thimble or ratchet at the end. The barrel, which is attached to the frame, acts as a nut to engage the screw threads, which are accurately made with a pitch of 0.05mm. Each revolution of the thimble advances the screw 0.05mm. On the barrel a datum line is graduated with two sets of division marks.









These may be used as reference standards for transferring the dimension of the unit of length from the primary standard to gauge blocks of lower accuracy and for the verification and graduation of measuring apparatus. These are high carbon steel hardened, ground and lapped rectangular blocks, having cross sectional area 0f 30 mm 10mm. Their opposite faces are flat, parallel and are accurately the stated distance apart. The opposite faces are of such a high degree of surface finish, that when the blocks are pressed together with a slight twist by hand, they will wring together. They will remain firmly attached to each other. They are supplied in sets of 112 pieces down to 32 pieces. Due to properties of slip gauges, they are built up by, wringing into combination which gives size, varying by steps of 0.01 mm and the overall accuracy is of the order of 0.00025mm. Slip gauges with three basic forms are commonly found, these are rectangular, square with center hole, and square without center hole.



Wringing or Sliding is nothing but combining the faces of slip gauges one over the other. Due to adhesion property of slip gauges, they will stick together. This is because of very high degree of surface finish of the measuring faces.



Classification of Slip Gauges


Slip gauges are classified into various types according to their use as follows:


1) Grade 2


2) Grade 1


3) Grade 0


4) Grade 00


5) Calibration grade.


1) Grade 2:


It is a workshop grade slip gauges used for setting tools, cutters and checking dimensions roughly.


2) Grade 1:


The grade I is used for precise work in tool rooms.


3) Grade 0:


It is used as inspection grade of slip gauges mainly by inspection department.


4) Grade 00:


Grade 00 mainly used in high precision works in the form of error detection in instruments.


5) Calibration grade:


The actual size of the slip gauge is calibrated on a chart supplied by the manufactures.



Manufacture of Slip Gauges




The following additional operations are carried out to obtain the necessary qualities in slip gauges during manufacture.


i. First the approximate size of slip gauges is done by preliminary operations.


ii.  The blocks are hardened and wear resistant by a special heat treatment process.


iii. To stabilize the whole life of blocks, seasoning process is done.

iv. The approximate required dimension is done by a final grinding process..



v. To get the exact size of slip gauges, lapping operation is done.


vi.Comparison is made with grand master sets.



Slip Gauges accessories


The application slip gauges can be increased by providing accessories to the slip gauges. The various accessories are


·       Measuring jaw


·       Scriber and Centre point.


·       Holder and base


1. Measuring jaw:


It is available in two designs specially made for internal and external features.


2. Scriber and Centre point:


It is mainly formed for marking purpose.


3. Holder and base:


Holder is nothing but a holding device used to hold combination of slip gauges. Base in designed for mounting the holder rigidly on its top surface.


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Mechanical : Metrology and Measurements : Linear and Angular Measurements : Linear Measuring Instruments |

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