A digital caliper or electronic caliper is a quick tool to measure length, diameter, depth, and steps. Commonly, the range it can measure is 6″. Not only speed but also its accuracy and precision, make it a must tool for many purposes. The typical resolution and accuracy of a digital caliper are .0005″ and ±.001″ respectively.
If you are looking for a digital caliper for machinist, woodworking, 3D printing, reloading, research, metrological, or general use, we have the choices below for you.
A digital caliper is obviously easy and quick to use in comparison to the vernier caliper or dial caliper. There is no secondary/vernier scale. All you have to do is to read the numbers shown on the LCD screen.
Aside from that, a digital caliper allows you to convert the reading into inches or mm immediately. Some digital calipers can remember the zero position although it turns off. The secondary temporary zero position can be set as well for comparative measurement. More advanced, you can transfer the reading right into the other device whether wired or wirelessly.
In terms of reducing errors, these advantages are obvious. By documenting the reading immediately into a spreadsheet, there is no random error. Besides, since the LCD screen is always visible to view from any direction, there is no parallax error.
The problem with the digital caliper is its battery, foreign material (water, dust, oil, etc) resistance, and quality. As we know, the battery can leak if you don’t use the digital caliper for a long time. It can run out as well while you’re using it. Some digital calipers are error when the surface scale is wet or dirty. A digital caliper without good sealing can let water ingress and damage the internal system. Fortunately, all of these issues can be solved.
Choosing the best digital caliper requires time and effort. The following are our top 10 best digital caliper product reviews that we selected from the market.
Top 10 Best Digital Caliper Reviews in 2023
1. Mitutoyo 500-196-30 Digital Caliper [Best Overall]
The scale surface has the Absolute™ technology that allows it to remember the zero position reading (when the jaws are closed) although the caliper turns off. So, there is no need to preset the zero reading whenever you are going to use the caliper. Set it using the “Origin” button. The secondary temporary zero reading can be set as well using the button “Zero/ABS”. This secondary point allows the caliper to be a comparator.
AOS (Advanced Onsite Sensor)
Aside from Absolute™, it comes with AOS (Advanced Onsite Sensor) technology which is actually an electromagnetic inductive sensor [Source/Page 2]. This sensor makes the caliper more resistant to false readings caused by water, oil, and dust that are stuck on the scale. Further, it ensures caliper reliability in harsh situations such as in workshops.
This is one of the best digital calipers for machinists. However, it shouldn’t be for frequent use when it comes to CNC machine applications.
Inspecting the parts of a CNC machine that are wet with coolant will not mislead the reading. But, AOS is not an IP rating or coolant-proof feature. Besides, the head/panel is not IP-rated. Coolant can ingress and be destructive to the caliper. You should do regular wiping if they are wet.
If you require high accuracy and precision, this digital caliper will help. It’s suitable for projects of metrological, research, machining, 3D designing or printing, reloading, etc.
Range, Resolution, and Accuracy
For specification, it provides you with an excellent resolution of .0005″ (0.01 mm), an accuracy of .001″ (0.02 mm), and a measuring range of 6″. As it’s built with quality, you could prove its repeatability. All in all, Mitutoyo 500-196-30 is the most advised model for most use.
For true accuracy, you should inspect or even calibrate it using gauge blocks. But, generally, Mitutoyo digital calipers are quality products.
Mitutoyo 500-196-30 Vs Mitutoyo 500-171-30
Mitutoyo 500-196-30 doesn’t provide a data output feature. If you require the same model that has a data transfer feature, then go to Mitutoyo 500-171-30. And this is the cable for Mitutoyo 500-171-30.
Buy on GlobalTestSupply
- High-quality product and smooth
- Origin feature; no zero reading setting prior to use the caliper
- Reliable to use in a harsh environment although dirt, oil, and water are on the scale.
- Super low battery use; long last 3.5 years battery life
- Low battery notification lets you prepare for a replacement.
- The head where the LCD screen and buttons are not IP rated
- No data transfer port
2. iGaging 100-700-06-I Digital Caliper – Best Budget Choice
It’s able to set the main zero-point reading like Mitutoyo above. If Mitutoyo’s origin name is Absolute, this one’s name is OriginCal. There are 4 buttons on the panel: mm/inch, power on/off, 0/ABS, and Origin. Having both Origin and 0/ABS buttons is an advantage instead of having one 0/ABS button only. The origin button is for the main zero point, while the ABS button is for the secondary zero point. You could use the secondary in incremental or comparative measurement.
In terms of accuracy, iGaging 100-700-06-I has been tested to quality the DIN Standard 862. The resolution is .0005″ (0.01 mm) and the accuracy is ±.001″ (0.02 mm). This one is the 6-inch range model, you could also purchase the 4-inch model as well.
Overall, if you want to perform repeated statistical measurements, this model is suitable for you. It has a great spec with wired or wireless data output. It’s also IP54 rated which is enough for protection against unexpected regression of dust and water. In our opinion, the iGaging 100-700-06-I digital caliper is suitable for reloading. However, it’s not appropriate for CNC machines.
- IP54 rating
- USB or wireless connection for data transfer
- Quick to use, no need to set the zero point every time using it
- Some accuracy issues
3. Mitutoyo 500-752-20 Digital Caliper – Best Digital Caliper for Machinist
Mitutoyo 500-752-20 is designed for frequent use of caliper in CNC machines. Performing an onsite measurement right before or after the operation, even though the coolant is still surrounding, let Mitutoyo 500-752-20 do it for you. Since no need to move the part you’re going to measure, that means faster and saves your time.
It’s IP67 rated, coolant proof, Absolute technology inside, and data output featured.
IP67 Rated and Coolant Proof
The IP67 rating qualification and coolant proof make it not only able to repel foreign tiny material but also resistant to the destructive effect of coolant cutting oil.
Working in the workshop, especially when operating the CNC machines, it is easy for the caliper to get exposed to coolant, oil, water, and dust. The IP67 rating ensures that the battery, electronic circuit, memory, and LCD screen are free from their regression. The coolant proof protects your caliper from the damaging effect of coolant/cutting oil.
Like other Mitutoyo calipers that come with Absolute technology, it allows you to set the main zero reading and let the caliper remember it. However, this one doesn’t provide an ABS button that means no secondary zero reading setting.
Even though it doesn’t have AOS technology like Mitutoyo 500-196-30, it’s still resistant to the interference possibility of sticking coolant, water, oil, and dust on the scale. The AOS makes it more resistant.
Resolution, Accuracy, and Repeatability
For accuracy, repeatability, and quality, you shouldn’t worry about Mitutoyo measuring instruments. It comes with a .0005″ (0.01 mm) resolution, ±.001″ accuracy, and .0005″ (0.01 mm) repeatability. Using an SR44 battery, it’s durable for up to 5 years of moderate use.
Mitutoyo 500-752-20 Vs. Mitutoyo 500-762-20
Buy on GlobalTestSupply
- Complete advantages for frequent heavy use in harsh environment
- IP67 rated and coolant proof
- Origin setting
- Durable up to 5 years of moderate use
- High specification
- No ABS button on the panel
4. Clockwise Tools DCLR-0605 Digital Caliper
It is able to take a measurement with a resolution down to .0005″ and an accuracy of ±.001″ (0.03 mm). You could convert the reading whether in inches, mm or fractional inches. The fractional reading will be suitable for woodworking use.
The splashing water and dust cannot ingress into the electronic circuit because it’s IP54 rated.
For data transfer, you could use an RS232 data cable or DTCR-02 data cable.
The downside is no origin button. When it turns off, the zero reading for closed jaws is not remembered. So, when it turns on, the reading will display “0” no matter the position of the jaws. That means you have to set the zero reading every time going to use the caliper.
- Large display
- IP54 water splash and dust resistant
- Data output feature to transfer the readings to another device
- Provides fractional reading
- No origin button, you have to set back the zero reading when it turns off
5. IGaging 100-333-8-B Digital Caliper
Another best digital caliper around $30 is iGaging 100-333-8B. This caliper gives you a large display that is good for poor vision, fractional reading that is good for woodworking, and water resistance.
It’s very impressive to see the LCD screen. Some old-aged people may have a problem with eyesight. The wide and large screen is extremely helpful to display large fonts. It’s even the largest screen compared to the other calipers that we review here.
Collected from the iGaging webpage, they claim it has an accuracy of .001″ and repeatability of .0005″. The maximum range it can serve is 6″. And the resolution (the smallest reading) is .0005″ (0.001 mm or 1/128″) — the readings can be displayed in 3 different units (inches, mm, and fractions).
It is also pretty good in water resistance. Water may splash onto the caliper, but it won’t damage because it’s IP54 rated. Be sure that you will never sink the caliper. This case requires a higher IP rating (IP67 or IP68).
Some drawbacks that we found are the lack of origin button. If you frequently use this digital caliper, the lack of these two buttons can slow down your work. Additionally, it has no data output feature. However, if you use this for general purposes, it shouldn’t be a problem.
- Large LCD display
- Fractional unit reading which is good for woodworking
- IP54, water splash resistant
- Nice body finish
- Smooth slide
- High battery power consumption causes short life expectancy
- No origin button
- Be careful of the battery compartment
- No data transfer feature
6. EAGems IP54 Digital Caliper
There are some basic functions it provides. It’s switchable to display the reading in 3 different units: inches, mm, and fractions. The on/off button functions as the power button. And the zero button functions for zero point adjustment.
Though it’s considered a low price, it’s well made of stainless steel. The battery compartment will not loosen because it is screwed. It comes with a case (containing a screwdriver for the battery compartment) to protect the digital caliper when stored.
One of the issues is the small screen. Some people may not prefer small screen.
- Stainless steel
- Inch, mm, and fraction
- 2-year warranty
- Great customer service
- The screen is small
- No origin button
7. Mitutoyo 500-474 Solar Powered Digital Caliper
Imagine if you have a digital caliper, but are no longer required to buy the battery? You could afford that with Mitutoyo 500-474 solar-powered digital caliper. Feel all the great things about this Mitutoyo without worrying about its battery power anymore. This is great stuff to carry outside.
Like typical Mitutoyo caliper products, you’ll get the benefit from its quality. The resolution is .0005″ (0.01 mm) which is good. And the accuracy is ±.001″ (±0.01 mm) which is excellent. In addition to its accuracy, you could purchase an extra certificate of traceability to NIST for professional purposes.
It also works in low light but the company recommends working in decent lighting (60 lux and more) for the caliper to operate.
- Solar-powered, totally no battery power needed
- No need to set up the zero point every time working with
- No way to connect this to another device
8. Vinca DCLA-0605 Digital Caliper
It allows you to read whether in inches, mm, or fractions. The fractional reading will be suitable for woodworking projects.
If you want to run a statistical measurement, the VINCA DTCR-03 cable will let you transfer the measurement data into an excel spreadsheet. It works with any external device as long as it provides a USB port. The cable is sold separately which you could buy here.
- Data transfer feature (USB)
- Fractional reading for woodworking
- Data transfer cable is available separately
9. Starrett EC799A-6/150 Digital Caliper
This model comes with a range of 6″, accuracy of ±.001″ (±0.02mm), a resolution of .0005″ (0.01mm).
Buy on GlobalTestSupply
- Starrett brand
- Nice specification
10. Adoric Digital Caliper – Best Cheap Digital Caliper
You may need the simplicity and speed of a digital caliper but doesn’t really require a high accuracy, then Adoric digital caliper only costs you about 10 bucks.
This choice is perfect for measuring cloth because the jaws are made of plastic. You can use it to measure the diameter of a watch as well.
Things to Consider Buying A Digital Caliper
1. Specification (Measuring Range, Resolution, Accuracy & Repeatability)
The measuring range is the maximum length that it can measure. It can be available in 4″, 6″, 8″, 12″, etc. Mostly used is the 6″ range. You should match it with your need. If you don’t know what to choose, just pick the 6″ ones.
Resolution means the smallest reading a measuring instrument can give. Today’s digital calipers commonly provide down to .0005″ resolution. If you find less than .0005″, you should not choose it.
Accuracy can be said about calibration as well. Even though, the manufacturer claim they have a particular level of accuracy, you should check it with your gauge block.
Repeatability simply shows the degree to how consistent a certain instrument shows a certain reading. If your digital caliper always displays 1″ when measuring a 1-inch gauge block, it’s high repeatability. Some products don’t have information about the repeatability of their products. You could check it with your calibration kit.
2. Functional Buttons (Zero Point, Unit Conversion, etc)
One of the biggest advantages of a digital caliper is its buttons. You can easily set the zero reading at any point and it will remember that new point. It can change the reading to an inch or mm or fractions. So, everything gets faster.
3. Water and Dust Protection (IP Rating)
If the water or dust or other small particles gets into the electronic circuit board, the digital caliper can mislead you with its reading. Water and dust can ingress into the electronic system and land damages to the LCD screen, internal electronic circuit, battery, etc. To know that a digital caliper has protection against water and dust, make sure it comes with an IP rating.
Try to find at least an IP54 rating. This means it successfully passed the water and dust test. The number 5 means the dust is still able to enter but only a small amount and no damage is given. While the number 4 means the system is okay even though splashed by water for 10 minutes. Read further about IP rating here.
When considering the IP rating, you should be aware of the company that issues the rating. Mitutoyo, for example, uses TUV company to test their products. You could contact the digital caliper manufacturer and ask which company they hire to test their products.
Another protection is coolant proof. If your caliper has this advantage, it’s suitable to use for machinists in milling or other machining projects. The cutting oil/coolant can be more harmful than water and dust to the caliper. It can be destructive to the outer parts of the caliper.
4. Carbide-Tipped Jaws
Like micrometers that come with carbide anvil, a digital caliper with carbide-tipped jaws is designed to last longer. For machinists that measure harsh objects very often, carbide is useful to resist wear on the jaws. Stone and things similar can cause break your caliper jaws. In contrast, a plastic jaw will simply fall apart when securing a stone, grindstones, rough-machined pieces, etc. A plastic jaw would be suitable for gems and jewelry.
5. Data Output
Data output allows you to transfer the reading right into an external device such as a personal computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone. If you are going to collect the measurement readings or do statistical measurements, this feature can be a great thing for you.
It allows you to save the measurement readings in a spreadsheet. No need to write it down on a piece of paper anymore. There are two ways of data transfer methods available: cable or wireless. You should check which method your caliper has and make sure it’s what you want.
6. Quality Build
The last thing you should consider is product quality. When moving the jaws, you could check their smoothness. If the caliper shows weird reading when you slide it too fast, it may be a sign of low quality. When buying online, you cannot check its smooth sliding by seeing the customer reviews.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How to operate the digital caliper?
A: It’s very easy. There are some buttons for quick instruction but these are the most commons such as unit convertion, setting the zero reading at any point, and holding the reading. You can take the reading instantly. Some models let you record multiple reading and puts them in a spreadsheet on your tablet, smartphone, and laptop.
Q: How to check the accuracy of a digital caliper?
A: You can compare your digital caliper’s reading with a standard. In this case, a set of gauge blocks is the standard. Be careful when selecting the gauge blocks, you need to know the appropriate grade for your need. The gauge blocks for hobbyst should not be used for manufacturing purpose. You can buy some blocks only or individually (not in a set) when the caliper is used for certain lengths.
Q: How to take care of a digital caliper?
A: A hard foamed case will protect your digital caliper from external damage. Prepare the secondary battery in case of sudden replacement.
Q: What is the best caliper brand?
A: If you want to search further to the official site, you can stick to these brands: Starrett, Mitutoyo, and Brown and Sharpe.
How to Check the Accuracy of Digital Caliper
Checking the accuracy of the digital caliper can be done with gauge blocks. Gauge blocks are the standard for length in the workshop. Micrometers, dial indicators, and surely calipers are common to see being calibrated by these blocks. Depending on the block grades, you can use the workshop grade.
However, for serious calibration, you can send your caliper to a calibration lab accredited to ISO 17025.
You have to be aware of the types of calipers you really need. Each of them has different advantages and disadvantages. You have to realize why you need a digital caliper. Need to remember that a digital caliper needs a battery that supplies power so that the caliper can run. If it runs out of battery power, you cannot use it.
Picking the best digital caliper is an obvious challenge. Many digital calipers on the market offer great features and nice quality at a competitive price. However, there must be a final decision to pick the best one. The best ones should be high quality, useful buttons, accurate, repeatable, and durable. Besides, the best one should match needs. Water dust protection can be core considerations for use in harsh environments. While data transfer is useful for quick data collection.
Overall, if you ask us what the best digital caliper to choose from is, we would be confident to recommend Mitutoyo 500-196-30. It’s the best quality option that we suggest.
If you are working with a digital caliper in a very harsh environment, it’s important to have an IP67-rated digital caliper. Mitutoyo 500-752-20 can be your choice.