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Micrometers vs Calipers

Posted by Barry Ward on

Micrometers and Calipers are both measurement tools that measure extremely fine, small distances. They are most commonly used in engineering and metalwork. One of these tools is not necessarily “better” than the other. The most updated version of each can measure up to an accuracy of 0.01mm. However, the two are different in their design and can be particularly suited for certain tasks.

Depending on the surface or object you may need to measure, one may work better for you than the other. Read on to learn about their distinctions and purposes to learn if you should use a caliper vs a micrometer when choosing the best tool for your next project.



A micrometer is an instrument that is most commonly used to measure the diameter or exterior of an object. The device measures small distances between its two faces. One of the faces is moved towards the other by turning a screw. Even a manual micrometer measures to an accuracy of 0.01mm.

A micrometer is ideal for measuring a small object, edge or separation. You can choose whether to opt for a traditional, analog micrometer or an  electronic micrometer which offers both precise measurements and an easy-to-read LCD display.



Calipers are useful for measuring both internal and external distances. Visually, a caliper appears more like a traditional ruler with a sliding connection. It features both internal and external jaws. While a micrometer is useful for measuring external diameters, the two types of jaws allow calipers to measure internally, externally and the depth of an object. Like micrometers, calipers come in both manual and digital forms. The manual caliber is slightly less accurate but often significantly more affordable than the digital option. However, the  digital option offers extreme accuracy to 0.01mm like the micrometer.

Both micrometers and calipers are excellent, precise tools for measuring small distances. So how do you decide whether to use a micrometer vs a caliper?

While a caliper is slightly more versatile in the types of distances it can measure, a manual micrometer offers a more accurate measurement than a manual caliper. The electronic versions of each are both extremely accurate, and when deciding between the two, your choice should depend more on the shape and angle of the distance you need to measure.

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