Dial Calipers vs. Digital Calipers - Has anyone replaced all their dial indicators?



I was just wondering if other people had some experience with replacing Dial Calipers with Digital Calipers.

Here is my concern:

We have approx. 350 0-6" calipers, 300 are dial calipers, and 50 are digital. Since I have been in my position I have had to have about 25 dial calipers repaired vs. 1 digital to repair. There are employees here who strongly prefer dial calipers, but the costs of mainting dial calipers are becoming astronomical.

My Question: Has anybody out there gone through and replaced there dial calipers with digital, and have you seen a decrease in the amount of repairs needed?

Al Dyer

Although not a fan of any calipers, I would ask this:

What is the root cause for the difference in frequency of repairs between the two types of calipers?

Are glass faces broken? (Handling)
Are people "squeezing" too tight? (Mechanical)
Is R&R out of whack?
Are quality problems more frequent with one of the two types?
Are calipers the proper method for verification?

I have found that digitals are easier to use, and that requiring people to use equipment that is not compatible with their training levels could lead to unexpected "wear and/or abuse".



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My 2 cents worth....

You may find down the road the digitals will be much more expensive to maintain. Repair costs are higher. I assume most of your dials are older than the digitals. On the other hand, digitals are extremenly easy to read ...even an old time veteran s myself has mis-read a dial caliper on occasion. We went digital for our in-process inspection performed by the operators. They were trained in the proper methods of using the equipment, but did not need to be trained in reading them.

Pros and cons to both sides .. good luck



As a calibration lab, we see very few repairs necessary on the digital instruments, while the dial types are frequently recieved out of tolerance due to contamination entering the mechanism.

15 years ago I wouldn't touch a digital measuring instrument. Now, they are all I own. I have used one set of digital calipers for 10 years and have never had to make any repairs other than changing a battery. I can't say the same for the dial type instruments that I have had in the past. The additional benefit has been stated by others - it's extremely hard to misread a digital and parallax problems go out the window.


We set up a new facility in the last three years. I specify all of the measuring instruments. I specified digital in all f our common measuring instruments due to the fact that our operator skill level was low and even skilled operators can misread a gage. So far the only problem that I have had is getting new operators to keep the instruments out of the coolant but in general the digital calipers are less prone to being impacted by chips (no rack) and are as accurate or more accurate in use than a standard mechanical caliper.

Ryan Wilde

We're a cal lab with a repair section. We see literally thousands of calipers, micrometers, etc. and which is better is almost a toss-up. Digitals handle metal chips better (as pointed out previously - no rack or gears, except a few electro-mechanical models). In general, dial calipers handle oil better (electronic models have rubber seals, switches and interconnects - all of which seem to expand in size when introduced to coolant, which starts causing all sorts of funny little problems.)

Something to note: There is one brand that sells a waterproof set of calipers, which is the best of both worlds. They work wonderfully, except they only have 4" of travel, and are pretty pricey.

If you are looking for the highest reliability, you can't beat a good pair of vernier calipers. Good luck finding anyone with under 20 years of experience that wants a pair of those.

One last comparison - life expectancy. I see dial calipers come in that are well over 25 years old. Electronic models do not have that kind of longevity.

Moral of the story: You can't win, it's basically a push. If you prefer the electronic models, or want to begin using the SPC functions, make the move. I would, for your budget's sake, replace them by attrition.

Just my feeble thoughts.

Ryan Wilde, Technical Manager
Quality Control Sales & Services
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