Types of Dial Indicator

Dial indicators, one of the most widely used measuring instruments in today’s world, are used on the object surface, to measure the property of that surface. This measuring instrument is used to measure the relative position of the surface to the contact point.

However, all dial indicators are actually not identical in terms of their working principles. Therefore, in this article, we are going to discuss some of the types of dial indicators.

Before you go further, make sure you are familiar with some basic terms of the dial indicator, its body parts, and the structural components inside the body. They are important as this article will be talking a lot about them.

3 Things to Differentiate Them

There are lots of circumstances to consider while measuring the position. We cannot use the same dial indicator for all circumstances? That’s why there are many kinds of dial indicators are available on the market. The following are the categories based on which they are classified.

There are three basic things that differentiate them:

  1. Inner dial face
  2. The contact point.
  3. The working mechanism.

In the following, we will briefly discuss each of the types and demonstrate some examples.

Dial Indicators Based on the Inner Dial Face

The inner dial face is located right after the crystal. It is the bigger circular scale that has a pointer on it. Normally, a standard dial indicator’s inner dial face has a graduation of 0.001″. And normally has a range of 0 – 0.01″.

Based on this dial face, we can classify the dial indicators into two types. One is the balanced dial indicator while the other one is the continuous dial indicator.

1. Balanced Reading Dial indicator

In this type of dial indicator, the dial face has an equal division of the markers on both sides. That means if the dial indicator has 10 scores of the main division, the positive and negative scores will be balanced equally. On both the positive and negative sides there will be 0-5 main division. There can be three types of balanced dial indicator.

  • One Revolution: This type of dial indicator can rotate one complete rotation on either the positive or negative side. There are few examples of them such as Mitutoyo 513-504T, KHCRAFT Professional Dial Test Indicator, TESA Brown & Sharpe 74.111370 Interapid 312 Dial Test Indicator, etc.
  • Multi Revolution: This type of dial indicator can rotate more than one complete rotation. If the pointer finished one complete rotation, the outer dial hand goes to 0.01″. In this way, it can measure up to 0.1″. For example, Gold plus white, etc.
  • Reverse Phase: Reverse balanced dial indicator is opposite to the normal balanced dial indicator. They have their positive side on the left and the negative side on the right. Similarly, they have one revolution, multi revolution types of the dial indicator. But these types are very rare in the market.

2. Continuous Reading Dial Indicator

This type of dial indicator has the values on the dial face that is continuous. There are 10 divisions of the range. Similar to the balanced dial indicator it has also three types. They are:

  • One revolution: This type has continuous values where the pointer can go one complete rotation. The examples are: HHIP 4400-0025, Starrett 81-211J, etc.
  • Multi revolution: This type can be used to measure a bigger range than 0.01″. There is an outer dial face that is very small in size comparing the main display. It measures the range of more than one complete rotation of the pointer. The examples are Mitutoyo”2416S”, Starrett 25-441J, Accusize Industrial Tools, Fowler 52-520-109, etc.
  • Reverse Phase: As Usual, this type is opposite to the normal continuous dial indicator. The positive side is on the left and the negative side is on the right. Normally they are very rare in the market.

Dial Indicators based on the Contact Point

You can find a stem rod below the dial face. It has a contact point at the lowermost part of the rod. Based on this contact point we can divide the dial indicator into two types. They are:

1. Plunger Contact Pointed Dial Indicator

This type of dial indicator has a stem rod perpendicular to the object surface. This type cannot be used at any other angle. Normally they have a plunger-type contact point. Normally they are termed as the dial indicators. For example HHIP 4400 – 0025, Mitutoyo 2416S, etc.

2. Lever Contact Pointed Dial Indicator

This type of dial indicator can be set at any angle on the object surface. They have a lever-type contact point. Normally, they are termed as test indicators. For example Mitutoyo 513 – 504T, KHCRAFT Professional, TESA Brown & Sharpe 74.111370 Interapid 312, etc.

Dial Indicators based on the Mechanism

There are other types of a dial indicator, their mechanism is different from each other. With the flow of technological advancement, There are 2 kinds of dial indicators came to the market. They are:

1. Mechanical Dial Indicator

This type of dial indicator is fully built with mechanical pointer and gears. Both the dial indicator and dial test indicator have this kind. For example Fowler 52-520-109 AGD, Mitutoyo 2416S, etc.

2. Digital Dial Indicator

This type of dial indicator has a digital LED display, and fully powered by a battery. This type of dial indicator is very convenient to save consecutive results. For the examples: Mitutoyo 543-783B Absolute Digimatic Indicator, Fowler 1”/25mm Indi-X Blue Electronic Indicator, Rhinoco DTI Digital Dial Indicator, etc.


Those are the common basic types that you could find on the market these days. The easiest way to differentiate them is by observing their inner dial face, contact point, and working mechanism. You can observe their structures by searching the product example mentioned in the explanation.

We hope this article will make you easy to understand the types of dial indicator and the differences. Finally, by means of this page, we hope that you could make your research easier, so the best of luck on your project.