When it comes to engineering, precision is everything. There are different types of engineering of course but they all come back to two central themes, which are measuring and cutting. Sometimes the distances that are being measured are large, such as when building bridges or other large structures. But even with the large structures there are a lot of small measurements to be made and accurate cutting is necessary.
Engineers call on a set of tools that while they can be quite simple, have to be very accurate. Many of them could be part of a language of their own, as the average person has probably never heard of them, such as micrometers, vernier calipers, and even dial indicators.
There is an old saying that is more famous among carpenters, which goes ‘measure twice, cut once’. What that means is if you take the time to measure accurately, then you should cut in the right place. And it is much easier to measure twice than cut twice. It is also often much cheaper to only measure one time.
Much of an engineer’s job is done on the drawing board. But they also have to do a lot of other work such as strength testing, making sure builders are following plans and making sure parts are assemble correctly.
An example of firstly how accurate some engineering tools are, and also of how little known the tools used by engineers are, would be micrometers. I am fairly confident that if you are not an engineer, that you don’t know what a micrometer is used for. It is a tool that can measure very, very small distances, up to one millionth of a millimeter. They are used to create things such as precision cutting tools, medical devices, and other delicate objects that need to be extremely accurate. Clockwise Tools Gage Gauge 0-1 inch Measuring Tool B07C7HH17H
They commonly work using a calibrated screw that is housed in a caliper, which can be finely adjusted to exact measurements. There are three types of micrometers, outside micrometers that measure wires and spheres, inside micrometers, which measure the diameter of holes, and depth micrometers, that measure the depth of slots, holes, and maybe steps.
Another tool you don’t find in the average garden shed is the dial indicator, or dial gauge. The dial indicator also measures small distances among other things and displays the measurement on a dial, which is easy to read.
Some of the main purposes of a dial indicator are to measure for run-out when fitting new discs to disc brakes, to minimize wear, they are used to check for consistency and accuracy in manufacturing processes, to calibrate machinery before production of product batches, and to ensure accuracy of other fine measuring tools during their production.
It is not always easy to find stores that sell such specialist measuring or engineering tools, although it is becoming easier through the internet of course. This is also helping to reduce the price of some products in an engineer’s toolbox, due to wider availability of the tools and increased competition for the sale.