Measure Once, Cut Once
May 21, 2021
There’s a Keystone in every great invention.
Measuring Tools and their Electronics
The development and mastering of tools has been vital to the evolution of the human species. Measuring tools have enabled impressive and monumental structures to be built. From the Great Wall of China to the Taj Mahal to the Roman Colosseum and all of the pyramids great and small around the world, measuring devices are critical to building. Having only been invented in 1829, the tape measurer is considered a new tool by historical construction standards. Which make the achievements of the past even more impressive.
The modern tape reel measure came about in 1829 because of passing of a fashion fad. Hoop skirt popularity dwindle in the late 1920’s and supply diminished along with demand. British metalworker James Chesterman patented his spring tape measure, which used the left over flat metal formally used to make hoop skirts. The flat metal had marked measurements and was rolled inside of a circular leather case that made the tool easy to transport and use. The tool was expensive, but effective.
In 1868, Alvin J. Fellows improved upon the Chesterman design. Patented in New Haven, Connecticut, the new tape measure featured a unique spring design that allowed the tape to be locked into place when extended. This feature, still used today, allows the user to mark several increments within a set distance.
The tape measure has continued to be improved upon, and now has a wide range of functionality for use in building. With various lengths, most commonly 12, 25 and 100 feet, there are tape measures for specific uses and purposes. Often called builder’s tape because of its widespread use in construction, the 25 foot tape measure features measurements marked in feet and 16 inch increments. This differs from the 100 foot tape measure, which is usually made of cloth and is used to mark exterior measurements in larger builds.
With the development and mass production of the integrated circuit (IC), the tape measure has also gone digital. An early patent for the digital measurer was published in 1977. Digital tape measurers became popular in the 1990’s, as they feature a digital display that gives precise measurement readouts in multiple increment types such millimeters, centimeter, inches and feet. Measuring tools continued to evolve with technology advancements such as lasers.
In 1960, the very first laser was constructed. Laser use cases rapidly grew over the following decades. Leica Geosystems revolutionized measurement with the first handheld laser distance measurer in 1993. The Laser Distance Measurer (LDM) transmits a light pulse to the target and then measures the time that it takes for the laser reflection to return to the source. Weighing around 2 pounds, the Leica DISTO could measure up to 100 feet and was accurate to 1/8 inch. Operation was simple: switch it on, point the dot at the target, press a button and get the precise distance displayed on screen.
Modern LDMs offer ranges beyond 200 meters with accuracy of around 2 mm. A LDM outperforms traditional spring tape measures in most meaningful categories including accuracy, speed, versatility, safety, functionality, and convenience.