October 6, 2022

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Dial Vs Digital Vs Spring – Which Type Of Calipers Is Right For Me?

Digital calipers

There are many instruments that are used to take measurements; however, the best-known traditional tool to provide accurate measurements is definitely a caliper. Calipers are used to measure the length, width and height of objects. Largely used for educational purposes and other mechanical or engineering applications, calipers come in different types and are set apart by their appearances and unique features.

Among the many different types of calipers found in the market, the more commonly used ones are digital calipers, dial calipers and spring calipers. If you are wondering which one is best suited for your needs, we will help you choose the right one.

Dial calipers

Dial calipers fundamentally work on a rack and pinion system that comes with a gear-set that moves the dial in increments of one thousandth of an inch. 


  • Dial calipers have a resolution of 0.001″ and an accuracy of ±0.001″.
  • It works without a power source so can be used anytime.
  • Easy zeroing.
  • Cheaper than digital calipers.


  • Difficult to read when compared to digital calipers.
  • Some of the dial calipers are available in a single unit system, i.e., either mm or inch; so, check before buying.
  • If dropped, the rack and pinion can get out of alignment and it can be difficult to recalibrate. 
  • If there is a magnetic field, it can interfere with the reading.
  • Not waterproof.

Digital calipers

Digital calipers, as the name suggests, have a digital display and use linear encoders to measure the distances. 


  • Easier to read than the dial and spring calipers. The digital display makes it easy to read. 
  • Available with metric and imperial conversions for more precise measurement.
  • The caliper resolution is 0.0005″ and its accuracy is ±0.001″.
  • Re-zero function – easy zeroing.
  • More shock-proof than the dial calipers.
  • Reliable accuracy and better resolution than the dial calipers.
  • High-end digital calipers come with an SPC cable slot to transfer measurement data to other devices such as smartphones, tablets, and computers.


  • Sensitive to a magnetic field, water, dirt, and oil.
  • Needs a power source to work. Tip: always remember to keep batteries with you.
  • Can give erratic readings if the calipers are dirty or wet.

Spring caliper

  • Spring calipers have a spring joint with a screw and two legs and measurements are taken by adjusting the screw which determines the position of the legs.


  • Can measure longer dimensions.


  • Slightly outdated.
  • Do not have a graduation scale.

Dial vs Digital vs Spring – Which type of calipers is right for me?

So, what do you need to take into considerations while buying a caliper? 

If you need a professional precision caliper without spending too much, a dial caliper would be the right choice. Also, a dial caliper is faster and easier to read and does not need a battery.

However, if you need better reading speeds and other features like data transfer, then go for a digital caliper. Moreover, digital calipers are more durable against wear and tear when compared to dial calipers. Digital calipers are protected against water and dust so that they do not enter the sensitive parts.

Calipers are required to measure a variety of objects in a number of applications. If you need to browse our precision calipers, visit our website and take a look.