Size matters for 3D printing projects. Measurements are crucial for ensuring that your prints are the best possible quality, so getting those down to the last zero may be essential. However, you’d need calipers for that.
The best calipers for 3D printing are the REXBETI Digital Calipers. These are within an affordable price range and offer high precision and accuracy. They are also durable, made of stainless steel, and resistant to dust and water spray.
The only cases in which I wouldn’t recommend the REXBETI Calipers are if:
- You want the best bang for your buck. Choose the iGaging IP54 Electronic Digital Calipers (available on Amazon).
- You want calipers for measuring small parts and walls. Then, go with the Beslands Digital Micrometer (available on Amazon).
- You want an incredibly accurate pair of calipers. Then, choose the Mitutoyo Digital Calipers (available on Amazon).
This article will compare some best-selling calipers you can use for 3D printing. I’ll point out which ones are the best based on certain factors and single out the one that is best overall. Keep reading this article to find the best calipers for your 3D printing projects.
Factors To Consider
When choosing calipers, these are some of the factors you’d need to consider:
- Accuracy and Tolerance
- Precision and Resolution
- Measuring Range
I’ll be breaking down each of those factors in their respective sections.
Calipers are devices with jaws used for measuring different dimensions like height, width, hole thickness, etc. Many types are available, and each offers perks and downsides.
You may have encountered a Vernier caliper through your Physics, Chemistry, or other laboratory classes. These calipers usually have two scales and are named after the Vernier scale, allowing exact and accurate measurements.
The major scale plus the Vernier scale could give you a count of 0.002 cm (0.0001 in), which is significant compared to standard rulers. They can also measure internal dimensions, external dimensions, and depth. They also don’t use electronics, so they are durable and can be used even around liquids.
However, the downside to these calipers is there can still be some discrepancies due to subjective human reading. There is no digital readout for Vernier calipers. It’s also quite hard to learn how to read a Vernier caliper.
Because of how subjective the readings can be without a digital screen, these calipers are not your best choice for 3D printing.
However, if you are interested in getting a pair, I recommend the Spurtar Vernier Calipers (available on Amazon.com). These calipers use the tried-and-true vernier design, and they are pretty versatile since you can use them around hot objects and liquids.
The digital caliper is a common alternative to the Vernier caliper. They are more accurate and less prone to errors because there’s no need for manual readings. Instead, electric sensors measure your object, then the LCD screen displays the measurements, making them convenient and accurate.
Digital calipers are also versatile to reflect both metric and imperial sizes. However, digital calipers are a bit more expensive and reliant on batteries. You also have to be careful around liquids or anything that can damage the electronics.
We’ll be covering a lot of digital calipers: iGaging IP54 Electronic Digital Caliper, Mitutoyo Absolute Scale Digital Caliper, Kynup Digital Caliper, and REXBETI Digital Caliper. These are all available on Amazon.
The dial caliper is more straightforward than the digital caliper because it’s easier to see where the needle points in the dial, making reading more precise and less prone to error.
Dial calipers also don’t use batteries or electronics but don’t last as long as Vernier or digital calipers. For that reason, I wouldn’t recommend them for 3D printing. An example of a dial caliper is the Anytime Tools Dial Caliper (available on Amazon.com).
A micrometer is a measuring tool that is 10x more accurate than the other caliper types, which is very suitable for projects that need exact measurements. This article will include the Beslands Digital Micrometer (available on Amazon.com).
Accuracy and Tolerance
The most crucial factor in assessing caliper quality is accuracy, most often reflected as tolerance values. Accuracy is a calculation that reflects how close measured values are to the actual value.
For instance, let’s say you have an object 12.1 cm (4.8 in) tall. If your measuring tool is accurate, it would constantly give a reading close to 12.1 (4.8 in), Since it’s easy to mess up on accuracy, you may get 12.1 cm, 12.05 cm, 12.06 cm, 12.09 cm, etc. However, if the measurement is 11.8 or 11.9, your calipers are not as accurate as you’d want them to be.
So, let’s compare some of the best calipers based on their accuracy:
±0.001 in/0.02 mm
±0.001 in/0.02 mm
±0.001 in/0.02 mm
± 0.00005 in/0.001 mm
Tolerance values have a ± sign. If you have a caliper with ± 0.001 tolerance, a measurement of 1.003 could be 1.004 or 1.002. It’s like an allowance for error.
You’d want the tolerance value to be as small as possible to minimize error. A difference in the thousandth place may not be significant, but if the tolerance is only ±0.01 or ±0.1, such discrepancy could be relevant.
Precision and Resolution
Besides accuracy, you also want to consider the resolution. It is important to note that some devices can be precise but not accurate.
0.0005 in/0.01 mm
0.0005 in/0.01 mm
0.0005 in/0.01 mm
0.00005 in/0.001 mm
Caliper makers provide resolution values to indicate precision. These values tell you the limit of your measurements.
For instance, if the resolution value is 0.001 in (0.02 mm), you can have a reading of 2.001 but not 2.0001. High resolution is needed if your objective is to achieve smaller, exact measurements. You’ll find that small objects have significant size differences with the right tool.
Overall, the Beslands Digital Micrometer indicated lower resolution values and thus better precision than the other calipers. That makes sense because micrometers are generally more precise and accurate than digital calipers.
You might get the tool with the highest accuracy, but you’ll find that it won’t suit your needs because your object exceeds the measuring range. That is why you must also consider how much your device can measure.
Typically, the more comprehensive the measuring range, the lower the accuracy and precision.
6 in/150 mm
6 in/150 mm
6 in/150 mm
1 in/25 mm
The calipers I am comparing have the same measuring range of up to 6 inches (15.24 cm). However, the Beslands Digital Micrometer is limited to 1 inch (2.54 cm). Thus, this would not be a practical option if your object is more than 1 inch (2.54 cm).
Another essential factor to consider is durability. There are plastic calipers available on the market. While they are often cheaper than other calipers, they are less durable.
Remember that in 3D printing, you might be working around high temperatures, and you would not want a caliper susceptible to that.
Also, plastic calipers are pretty flexible, affecting the accuracy and precision of measurements. Thus, calipers made of a more sturdy and durable material are the most optimal choice.
Stainless steel; IP54
Stainless steel; AOS; Protective Case; Silver oxide battery
Stainless steel; IP54
Stainless steel, Lithium Battery
All of the listed calipers consist of stainless steel, which is a durable choice of material and would make a practical purchase. However, aside from that, you also need to consider whether they use electronics or not.
Digital calipers need batteries and LCD screens. These batteries can die or drain. LCD screens and other electrical components are sensitive to water damage. If you opt for a digital caliper, you would need a pretty resistant one, such as those rated IP54 or have a protective case.
An item with an Ingress Protection (IP) 54 rating indicates that the material’s electrical components are resistant to dust and water sprays. Thus, the iGaging and REXBETI digital calipers will be more durable than the others.
Meanwhile, although the Mitutoyo Digital Caliper did indicate an IP rating, it has an Advanced Onsite Sensor, an electromagnetic inductive sensor, and other features like a protective case. This case gives it resistance to dirt, oil, and water.
Moreover, you’d also want to consider what kind of batteries come with the device. Some calipers specified that lithium batteries are included in the purchase, while Mitutoyo’s Digital Caliper comes with a silver oxide battery.
Silver oxide batteries have a more significant run time than lithium batteries. However, some silver oxide batteries contain mercury, making recycling or disposal harder.
Of course, another critical deciding factor is the cost. Calipers come at various prices, depending on the brand, type, and features.
Most of the calipers above fall within the $10 to $50 range. It’s a good enough amount to spend on a decent set of calipers.
The most expensive, though, is the Mitutoyo Digital Caliper. Aside from its numerous features (AOS, protective case, high precision and accuracy, silver oxide batteries), Mitutoyo is also a popular and credible measuring tool brand.
Mitutoyo is accredited for its calibration services by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and American Association for Laboratory Accreditation (A2LA). Thus, quality is ensured, but such quality comes at a price.
Best Overall: REXBETI Digital Calipers
Now that we have extensively compared the calipers based on type, accuracy, precision, measuring range, durability, and cost, it is time to decide which ones are the best overall.
Overall, the REXBETI Digital Calipers are the best and most practical choice. These have high accuracy and precision so that you can count on them. They are also made of durable stainless steel, have an IP 54 rating, and come at a reasonable cost.
These two calipers are optimal if you are after quality without breaking your bank. They are usually around ⅓ or ¼ the price of a Mitutoyo Digital Caliper. They are also convenient because, as digital calipers, measurements appear on the screen.
Best Bang For Your Buck: iGaging IP54 Electronic Digital Calipers
The iGaging IP54 Electronic Digital calipers measure up to be very similar to the REXBETI Digital Calipers. They both have IP54 ratings, the same levels of precision and accuracy, and come at a reasonable cost.
However, these calipers have a much larger LED display. In addition, they feel a bit cheaper than the REXBETI’s (and they usually are just a tad cheaper). So, if you want a budget pair of calipers that packs in all the benefits of a high-quality set, this is the best pick for you.
Best for Small Parts and Walls: Beslands Digital Micrometer
If you need a device that can measure very small or delicate objects, you would need one with high precision.
The Beslands Digital Micrometer is best for precision and accuracy. It has a resolution value of 0.001 mm (0.00005″), allowing exact measurements. Moreover, micrometers are known to be more accurate than other calipers.
This micrometer is also digital. Thus, you just have to look at the screen for the readings, which reduces bias and error. However, the Beslands Digital Micrometer has a small measuring range. If your object is more than 1 inch (2.54 cm) in dimension, it won’t be within the device’s capabilities.
Best for Accuracy: Mitutoyo AOS Absolute Scale Digital Caliper
The Mitutoyo Digital Caliper is the best digital caliper for durability and accuracy. It has a sensor and protective case that makes it water, oil, and dustproof. Moreover, its silver oxide batteries last longer than the standard lithium batteries.
With all the quality and features that Mitutoyo’s calipers have to offer, there is no wonder why they are among the best in the world. However, it does come at a high price. However, if you’re willing to take the cost for quality, you’ll find that it will pay off.
Many calipers for 3D printing projects are available and reasonably priced. However, even those that can be pricey come with superior quality and durability, which makes up for the cost. Thus, focus on factors like accuracy and precision and see whether they make the purchase worth it and practical for you.