Top 5 Dial Test Indicators of 2020
If you are needing to measure for consistency purposes and not comparative purposes, a dial test indicator is the tool for you. The applications of this popular measuring tool are very broad, ranging from tramming your milling machine to measuring the roundness or runout of cylindrical parts.
Unlike dial indicators, dial test indicators (or DTI) have a lever-type arm. The angular motion of the lever allows the contact to ride easily over irregularities on part surfaces. Potential alignment errors are measured by how far the arm is pushed sideways. This capability is lacking in dial indicators, because the vertical-action plunger may resist responding to surface irregularities pushing “sideways” against the contact. You can learn more about the differences between DTIs and dial indicators here.
Using a dial test indicator is not very complicated, but it requires a little bit of patience. First, press the contact point against the desired part’s surface. As you press the dial test indicator against that surface, lock the dial test indicator into place and watch the dial as you rotate the part. It is important to note that test indicators allow just for a single revolution of the pointer around the dial, and the tool only allows for clockwise rotation as opposed to a dial indicator which rotates both clockwise and counterclockwise. Make sure your project meets these parameters.
For a specific walk through of how to properly use the tool, see below.
To help you discover what model is best for you, we reached out to the Practical Machinist community via Practical Machinist’s social media platforms to learn more about the community’s preferred dial test indicators. Let’s take a look at the top 5 dial test indicators models recommended by your fellow machinists.
Fowler 52-562-778 Black Face Dial Test Indicator, 0.030″ Maximum Measuring Range, 0.0005″ Graduation Interval, 1″ Diameter
This dial test indicator does not have issues sticking to surfaces and the repeatability makes this tool highly reliable. The tool has a three-point contact system for the detection of lobing or triangular form error.
Starrett 711GPSZ Last Word Dial Test Indicator with Attachments, White Dial, 0-15-0 Reading, 0-0.03″ Range, 0.001″ Graduation
This test dial indicator has a replaceable contact point and features a jeweled lever action for smooth readings. The half yellow shading on the dial’s face helps with more accurate readings. Use either a body clamp, friction holder or shank to mount this swiveling, tubular body.
This dial test indicator measures with +/-0.0001” accuracy making this dial test indicator both reliable and affordable. This model features a dovetail mount.
Mitutoyo 513-406-10E.0005/0.01mm X .030/0.7mm Horizontal Test Indicator, 0-15-0/0-35-0, Inch and Metric
The Mitutoyo dial test indicator features a .079″ carbide contact point, users have expressed high praise about this tool for their smooth use and accurate readings.
Featuring an easy to read dial and jeweled mechanism fitted with ball bearings, this tool is a Practical Machinist fan favorite.
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