Mechanical vs. Digital Micrometer

Mechanical Vs. Digital Micrometer

Micrometers can be classified based on how it works: mechanical, digital, and dial. Each division has different components and working principle inside of its body, however, the purpose remain the same to provide a magnified measurement.

These different working principles also affect the way the micrometer display the reading. Further, it can be 4 classifications: dial, digital, mechanical and mechanical counter. The mechanical counter looks like no electronic component embedded on there, however, it’s a digital system that uses mechanical components.

1. Mechanical Micrometer

The most common used micrometer is the mechanical model. It applies the working principle of the screw and nut to create an amazing magnification. Equipped with two major scales: sleeve scale (stationary) and thimble scale (rotating). To gain greater resolution, some mechanical micrometers etch additional vernier scale on the sleeve scale above the index line. For those who are still beginners, using this type of micrometer is very fun and appropriate to practice how to calculate the reading.


  • Affordable and easy to get. It has a reasonable price compared to the digital and dial in general.
  • Last for a Longer Time. A mechanical micrometer feels heavy probably because of its material, steel. Steel is a strong, stiff, weight, and durable material to improve the quality of a product. Moreover, proper and careful uses can help extend the life span.
  • Can be used in a harsh environment. No need to worry to use it in an oily or magnetic field environment.
  • No battery. As long as it is in good condition, no need for any electrical power source.


  • The reading takes time. If you’re not familiar with it, you may need a note to calculate the measurement.
  • Chance of error. The angle of reading has to be straight into the center of the barrel.
  • One Unit Measurement. The scale is only available in one unit measurement. In other words, it is just in metric (mm) or imperial (inch). You have to convert the result manually to another unit.

2. Dial Micrometer

Another micrometer type is dial micrometer. As its name, it utilizes dial gauge as the reading display which consists of gears and pinions as the central components to create a greater resolution. Despite dial micrometer is not as popular as the mechanical type, its performance can’t be underestimated. The dial gauge is more popular among the caliper than a micrometer.


  • Easy to read. The reading is clearer and easy, however, still needs time to calculate. There are generally two dials. The first one is small and represents the revolution of the bigger dial. The bigger dial magnifies the measurement of the mini dial.


  • Easy to break down. It’s likely the micrometer with dial meter will be broke if it falls down.
  • Interfered with a magnetic field.

3. Digital Micrometer

A digital micrometer is a product of excellent technology that employs an electronic circuit to manipulate the capacitance into numbers. You don’t need to make any calculation because the measurement result has been displayed on the LCD screen. Even, there is a slot for a cable available to transfer the data of measurement into another electronic device. People buy a digital micrometer in hope to get a fast, easy, and accurate reading. Therefore, when you are buying a new micrometer, the digital model should be one of your consideration.


  • Fast Reading. As the measurement taken by the device, the reading is displayed. As long as the product is the good one, the reading is highly adorable.
  • Small Error. It totally eliminates the errors gained by the users.
  • Switch to Mechanical. In case the battery is running out of power, it’s still useful because you can switch to the conventional way. Or you just want to have fun, the scale thimble and sleeve are still there.
  • Easy Conversion. Generally, a digital micrometer provides conversion button to let you easily convert the reading to mm or inch.
  • Zeroing Made Easy. Unlike zeroing the mechanical model which has to rotate the sleeve barrel to align the index line to mark 0 of thimble scale, zeroing in digital micrometer is very easy. You can zero it at any position you like simply by hitting the zero button.
  • Transferrable Data. Your measurement data can be transferred, stored, and analyzed on the other devices.


  • Sensitive to External Environment. Dust and water is the enemy of a digital micrometer. They can damage the inside content of digital micrometer. If you want to make sure the micrometer can perform consistently for a longer time, buy the coolant proof one. Mitutoyo is a company that produces micrometer with this technology.
  • Battery. When the battery is out of power, you have to buy a new one.
  • Expensive. In general, a digital micrometer costs about hundreds of dollar. However, it’s reasonable in regard to its excellent performance.

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