Why Precision Measurement Tools Are Important

Not surprisingly, most people know next to nothing about the use of precision measurement tools. Like most jobs, unless you have some direct association, it is hard to appreciate what the job is really like.Why Precision Measurement Tools Are Important

Tool and die makers, precision aerospace machining specialists, and injection mold makers are just a few of the tradesmen who use these highly accurate tools regularly.

What are some precision tools?

  • Precision micrometers
  • Dial indicators
  • Coordinate measuring machines
  • Optical comparators
  • Granite surface plates
  • Pin gages
  • Gage blocks

All of these tools are very common in any CNC machining operation, medical or micro machining shop. If it were not for these tools, none of us would be able to use and enjoy the manufactured things we have.

Take a quick look around you right now. You can easily find many items that have been produced using precision measurement tools. Your computer monitor, mouse, and keyboard. The desk, your chair, the windows, the lighting, the light switch and outlet, fire extinguisher and smoke alarm, etc..

Most of the time we never even give a second thought as to how and where these things come from. Only when they fail to properly work do we give them notice.

What kind of dimensions are considered precision?

That depends on what you are making. In the toolmaking field, it is common to work within a tolerance of .0002 in./.005 mm. This does not really mean much, unless you can put it into some kind of perspective.

Take a cigarette paper, for example. Normally these are about .0008 in. thick. If you could split one paper in the thickness, it would leave 2 pieces of .0004 in. thickness. Split it again and you have your .0002 in. thick piece of paper! Now, that is small, especially when you are dealing with big blocks of hardened steel.

Toolmakers of every type and precision machinists use a variety of machines to work in this range of dimension. There are also many manual operations that are in this range.

Some typical machine tools are:

  • CNC milling machines
  • CNC turning centers
  • Sinker EDM
  • Wire EDM, WEDM
  • Manual and automatic surface grinders
  • Swiss style screw machines
  • OD and cylindrical grinders

One unfortunate aspect of our society is the tendency to look down upon manufacturing, as if it were some kind of second class occupation. It is not.

Academics, especially, tend to consider it as lowly or something other people do. Most of these high brows are unable to make anything at all with their hands and have no idea what actually goes on in a precision environment.

This is too bad, because some of the brightest and most talented people anywhere can be found in tools shops around the world. It is these craftsmen who actually make the machines and tools that produce the useful things we all enjoy.

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