Measuring instruments are designed to give the most precise version of the various dimensions for which they are used to determine. They can, therefore, be considered as one of the most important set of tools in any sphere. Due to their clear importance, it is essential that they remain in good condition all of the time. The smallest discrepancy in measurement as a result of a fault from measuring tools can result in a full-blown disaster, to say the least. Also, they are basically useless if they cannot give reliable and accurate results.
In order to make sure that your measuring tools never fail you, it is essential that you maintain them as much as possible and keep them in prime condition. Precision tools are especially a priority in this matter. In order to ensure that instruments such as calipers, dial gauges, and micrometers maintain a high level of accuracy to provide accurate and reliable results, they need to be preserved in optimum conditions. This is the main reason that we have put this article together. Here are a number of things you can follow to help you maintain your measuring tools much better:
1. Store Instruments in the Appropriate Location
When you are storing your instruments, ensure that the environment is the optimum one for them. You do not want to store your instruments in a wet location for instance. Similarly, it would be a bad idea to store your precision tools in a location where they can just bang against each other. Or hit the sides of your storage location. Instead, you should arrange them or ensure that the case where you are placing them is well padded. Also, you should avoid stacking or arranging instruments on top of each other except they have been placed in cases to protect them.
If a factor like vibration is unavoidable due to the nature of your work, then you would need to locate your measuring instruments very far from these vibrations. This is because constant vibration may tend to cause the instrument to fall out of calibration. Also, if your storage location is damp or moist, you would need to do something about reducing the humidity or moisture. Moisture removal methods like using silica gel packs or air conditioning can help to regulate moisture. In extreme cases, you might have to consider making use of a dehumidifier to dry the air up to a certain level.
2. Lubricate Instruments Properly to Avoid Corrosion
You should properly lubricate your measuring instruments especially precision tools to avoid damage. Because of oxidation and corrosion. They should, therefore, be oiled very lightly after use. And excess oil should be removed with the aid of a clean, soft and dry cloth. If your instruments are left wet, there is a possibility of attracting very tiny particles that could find their way into the inner mechanism. Once there, they can call the internal wear of the functioning core; especially objects that move against one another within your precision instrument. This could lead to irreparable damage that could result in your having to throw the instrument away.
Furthermore, the type of oil used in lubrication is an important factor to consider. When selecting the type of oil to use, you should avoid penetrating oils or any other lubricant compounds that have some other purposes apart from being used as lubricants. For instance, if you apply WD-40 on your precision instruments, it has a tendency of leaving a film behind that would affect and alter the calibration of such instruments. Avoidance of foreign substances is paramount with precision instruments since the thinnest layer of a foreign substance can result in inaccuracy in measurement especially for tools like micrometers and calipers.
For other tools that aren’t precision tools, this principle applies as well.
3. Proper Handling of Instruments
When making use of your measuring tools, you have got to do all in your power to extend the useful life of such tools. The most effective way to guarantee this is to ensure that you are making use of it in the right manner. In the case of precision instruments, protecting the tool becomes a lot more essential given that the slightest misuse could result in damage or miscalibration during use. If this occurs, then you might get wrong readings. If this isn’t detected on time, it could go on to result in some major damage to your work.
One of the few things that could help you prevent miscalibration or damage is to avoid handling your tools roughly as well as avoidance of sudden shocks. You shouldn’t drop, bang or throw measuring instruments against surfaces which are quite hard. Similarly, if you are making use of your measuring tools at a workbench, then you should ensure that there are rules mats or some padded surface underneath the bench edge. This way, when your Instruments fall, they have a soft surface to break their fall.
4. Avoid Exposing Your Tools to Temperature Extremes
Extremes of temperature have an untold, yet, major negative effect on tools. When you are handling a measuring tool, you need to ensure that it does not heat up and cool down intermittently. This is due to the fact that constant heating and cooling is one of the most effective forms of wear and tear that there is. In the case of instruments, it leads to rapid deterioration. This is not limited to handling alone. While storing your instruments, you would need to ensure that they are located in a place with a very uniform temperature. This is especially important if you do not make use of these tools very frequently.
In addition, if you are handling a precision tool, constant expansion and contraction could lead to an alteration in the calibration of the instrument. This is why you need to strive to maintain a normal room temperature range within your workspace. You should typically limit the amount of time that you spend holding on to instruments. Since extended contact would lead to heat transfer by conduction. Also, avoid placing them on surfaces that are extremely hot or extremely cold. As a matter of fact, you should always return precision instruments back to their original packaging if you are taking a break or not using them frequently.
5. Obtain Professional Maintenance Services if Needed
There is always a possibility of your instruments getting faulty no matter how amazing your handling is. This is mainly due to the fact that the instruments themselves are not invincible. This implies that they are getting deteriorated. When you find yourself in a situation like this, your first port of call should be the manufacturers themselves. The producers usually have ultimate knowledge of their products and the original spare parts in stock as well as a warranty in most cases. This tip is especially important for precision tools. Precision tools have delicate materials that amateurs shouldn’t use.
However, if you are not in a position to return a faulty measuring instrument to the manufacturer, you should then contact a reputable repair company instead. While doing this, you should make sure that they have enough reviews, and can be vouched for and trusted. Also, you should never attempt to make repairs for yourself. Especially if you do not have the technical knowledge or even the required repair tools / spare parts. Similarly, if you detect any fault, no matter how small or minor it is. You should immediately stop making use of such an instrument to forestall further or any major damage.
6. Clean After Every Use
This is one of the most basic maintenance practices that a lot of professionals do not engage in. As simple as it might sound, this is one tip that would guarantee an extended lifeline for your measuring instruments. Apart from just cleaning the surface, the areas which are harder to reach should be cleaned as well. Because they would accumulate dirt a lot more. If the dirt accumulated gets into your precision instrument, it could result in loss of calibration in some cases and may even lead to damage of some parts. Similarly, dust present on the surface can prevent you from getting accurate values during measurement.
You should wipe down all tools with anti-rust oil after each use. Except for the ones that have protective materials or made out of stainless steel. Another way of reducing dust accumulation is to store them in the original contract that they came in. More often than not, manufacturers take factors like this into consideration and design their cases such that it is a lot more difficult for dust and dirt to get in. However, you can wrap your measuring tools in a piece of a clean, soft cloth and store them in a pretty air-tight location.
7. Use Them for Their Designated Purposes Only
Measurement tools come in different forms and they can be of different types. In order to ensure that they last as long as they should typically do. They should be used solely for the reason that they were designed. As a matter of fact, you should never use your measurement instruments for tasks like prying or hammering. Even though their design makes them fit the bill to an extent. Doing this exerts untold and unnecessary pressure on them, leaving them potentially disfigured and reducing their useful life to a very large extent. You should, therefore, be aware of the limits to which their functionality extends.
Measuring tools are an essential part of engineering instruments. That’s why you need to care for and preserve them. In order to help you out with this, we have come up with the tips mentioned above. These 7 tips if followed through to the letter would help ensure and extend the useful life of your measuring tools.