Gauge blocks should be handled with the same respect as any other measuring equipment. If dropped or scrapped, they risk losing accuracy. Since the natural oils on your skin can cause build-ups and corrosion to the gauge blocks surfaces, avoid direct contact with your skin. To do this, use lint-free cotton gloves or chamois.
How To Use And Care for your Gauge Blocks
Gauge blocks are one of the most common forms of dimensional measuring tools. Although they are seemingly a simple block of ceramic, steel, or chromium carbide, they are actually a highly-engineered piece of precision measuring equipment. Below, we will outline the proper use and care recommendations needed to ensure a long productive life.
Frequent cleaning is one of the most significant parts of maintaining a gauge block’s accuracy and extending its lives. Regularly cleaning gauge blocks removes excess debris and oils that can potentially damage the block’s surface. We suggest using a soft lint-free cloth and a few drops of Isopropanol before and after use. If you are using steel gauge blocks, wipe each gauge with a rust preventative oil after cleaning. Since water cannot effectively remove oil and causes corrosion, you should never use water to clean gauge blocks.
Never leave gauge blocks sitting out. When not in use, place gauge blocks in their case with the lid closed. Doing this reduces the risk of accidental damage and keeps particles in the air from collecting on the block’s surface. After use, move your gauge block case to a dry temperature-controlled environment.
Managing temperature is a key part of accurate gauge block measurements. The Introduction of heat to a gauge block causes expansion. To mitigate heat’s effects, acclimate your gauge blocks, measuring equipment, and the workpiece to your work environment before taking any measurement. This is especially important after wringing blocks together. The friction and heat from your hands can cause a significant amount of expansion. Due to its resistance to heat absorption, we advise against leaving the gauge blocks on a granite surface plate during acclimation. Instead, we recommend using a gauge block stand or a metal soaking plate.
Wringing is the process of combining multiple gauge blocks to achieve a desired length. Once wrung, the blocks should stick together as if by a magnetic force. The first step of wringing gauge blocks is surface preparation. This is achieved by wiping the wringing surface a lightly oiled pad followed by a dry pad. There should be no excess oil visible. Once prepared, slide the blocks together using the image. The sliding motion should be smooth without bumps or abrasion. If either is present, immediate stop and inspect the surface for nicks or debris. When nicks are present, the gauge block should be set aside for stoning and calibration. To deal with debris, repeat the cleaning and oiling directions specified earlier. Although many processes do not require wrung gauge blocks, it can be a good way to check surface conditions. Gauge blocks that cannot be wrung may not be completely smooth.
When using gauge blocks in conjunction with another measuring instrument, we recommended the use of wear blocks. Wear blocks are “sacrificial” blocks added to both ends of a wrung combination. When wear blocks become worn, they are easily discarded and replaced. If used correctly, wear blocks will extend the life of your entire gauge set.
Like all measuring equipment, the accuracy of a gauge block will degrade over time. Depending on usage, you should calibrate gauge block sets every 1 and 3 years. By performing regular gauge block calibrations, you can guarantee your block is accurate and effective. Premier Scales & Systems provides an accredited gauge block calibration service for virtually all models and sizes. We take the guesswork out of calibration scheduling and budgeting by offering Preventative Maintenance Agreements (PMAs) for our customer’s metrology equipment. Our staff will work directly with your team to meticulously create a custom calibration service PMA designed to preserve your gauge block’s performance.
Ultimately, gauge blocks should be replaced once they fall outside of your accepted tolerances. These tolerances can vary widely depending on your process, material cost, and the importance of accuracy. If you are unsure what tolerances to use for your facility, contact us for free tolerance consultation services. When it’s time to replace your gauge blocks, Premier Scales & Systems can provide the right gauge blocks for your process. We offer a wide variety of gauge block types shapes, sizes, and materials.
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