Tape measures and rulers are often used as a quick visual reference in the quality control process. As an equipment standard, many quality technicians automatically rely on these tools to be accurate once initially calibrated.
It’s easy to assume the markings on a steel rule would indefinitely keep their accuracy. However, many factors can play a role in causing the reference marks on these tools to fall out of tolerance over time, primarily from wear and tear.
If the method of reference utilizes painted markings, the edges of individual markings (or even full markings) can be worn down causing inaccuracy or difficulty in reading.
If the method of reference used is an etched line or indentations in the material, damage to the material itself such as scratches or nicks can alter that etching or indentation, causing inaccuracy or difficulty in reading.
What our quality technicians see most commonly, and what affects accuracy more often than either of the above, is wear and tear on the leading edge of the measurement surface. This alters the distance of every reference mark from the originating edge by default, rendering the entire scale out of tolerance.
J.A. King laboratories are ISO 17025 accredited to perform tape measure calibration up to 25 feet. Our tape measure and steel rule calibration procedures include measurements at multiple check points, typically based on the upper limit of instrument (or user specifications) using NIST traceable standards such as gage blocks, surface plates, and vision equipment.
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Interested in new equipment? Take a look at the calibrated tape measures and rules we offer from leading brands such as Starrett and Mitutoyo!