A Quick History of Micrometer

The word micrometer itself is a combination of two Greek words. These words are “micros and “metron”, the meaning of micros is small and the meaning of metron is measure, both of them combine to give micrometer its name. William Gascoigne was an astronomer who first invented a micrometric screw while measuring the star in the sky. This invention took place in the 17th century after the invention of the first vernier caliper.

A century after the measurement of Gascoigne’s micrometric screw, the invention of James Watt’s tabletop micrometer took place. James Watt gave the standard design for micrometers, however, micrometers in the earlier periods were large, heavy and difficult to operate. The U-shape frame of the micrometer was put forward by James Watt as well. Different manufactures from manufacturing companies were struggling to measure the small distances between objects. At that time, James Watt’s invention gained a lot of attention because it consisting of two jaws which moved up and down with the help of a threaded spindle. When the jaws touched the object, the measurements were taken.

Sir Henry Maudsley, known as the “Father of Machine tool” made a remarkable invention which is the “Lord Chancellor” tabletop micrometer. This instrument became very popular because of its precision. It was found precise even after retesting many years later. After the invention of “Lord Chancellor”, the modern micrometer birthed and became very popular because of its precision and efficiency.

In 1848, a French man names J. Palmer provided the origin of the standard micrometer that is used worldwide today. The design put forward by J. Palmer consisted of a U-shaped frame and the micrometer had the ability to be operated single-handedly. It consisted of the same components that we see today. The components included spindle, anvil, sleeve, thimble and the U-shaped frame. The thimble’s circumference in Palmer’s design was divided into 20 parts which delivered an accuracy of 0.05mm. This design was based on the principle and functioning which were first used by Gascoigne, however, it was more advanced and modern.

The journey of the advancement of micrometer didn’t end yet. The modern micrometer was designed in France but it was improved in the USA. In an international exposition that took place in Paris in 1867, Brown and Sharpe of B&S Co. were intrigued by Palmer’s design of the micrometer and they decided to bring it back home with them. They closely looked at the design and they knew that there is room for improvements. Initially, they didn’t focus on the minor improvements but they aimed at making major changes that would make it more precise and easier to use.

J. Palmer invented the design in France which underwent several innovative improvements under the leadership of Brown and Sharpe in the US. In the US, the manufacturers were having trouble getting the correct measurements of different objects, be it metal sheets or other objects. The right thickness was not achieved. With the improvements and innovations made by Brown and Sharpe, it was easy to take measurements with a micrometer. The modern micrometers were not bulky and they could be used easily. The first mass-produced micrometers were produced when the modified version of Palmer’s design of micrometer received a patent in the US in 1899. In 1877, Brown and Sharpe produced their first 11inch outside micrometer. This micrometer was renowned for its accuracy. Simultaneously, Victor Machine Co. announced that a new micrometer was made in the US. Both the companies that made micrometers made sure that they were available widely.

The technological advancement of micrometer didn’t stop and it continued in other parts of the world as well. In Japan, the Meiji period is popular for its promotion of technology. The first micrometer was used at the end of the Meiji period in Japan. Due to the lack of imported micrometers, the Japanese tried to make their own. In 1918, the first prototype micrometer was invented in Japan by Sonoike Mfg. Co., this invention was made upon the model of Johansson’s model. After that, the micrometers became very popular and many companies started working on it. From 1931 to 1934, some names of the major companies that started working on micrometers included Mitutoyo, NSK, Fujikochi.

Nowadays, Mitutoyo is the micrometer manufacturer that dominates the world’s micrometer market. The company has been spreading into several countries including the United States. Along with the other products such as calipers, Mitutoyo expands its product to several micrometer types and features. All the types are available generated by the company. Feature such as output transfer through SPC cable is created to allow the users to transfer the measurement results to the other media. Mitutoyo is the brand that we recommend first when you get into a start point of buying a micrometer. Other brands such as Starret, iGaging, Anytime Tools are also clouding the market as well. They have various models to let you freely land your choice.

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