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Engineering Drawing Scale

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All drawings can be classified as either drawings with scale or those not drawn to scale. Drawings without a scale usually are intended to present only functional information about the component or system. Prints drawn to scale allow the figures to be rendered accurately and precisely. Scale drawings also allow components and systems that are too large to be drawn full size to be drawn in a more convenient and easy to read size. The opposite is also true. A very small component can be scaled up, or enlarged, so that its details can be seen when drawn on paper.

Scale drawings usually present the information used to fabricate or construct a component or system. If a drawing is drawn to scale, it can be used to obtain information such as physical dimensions, tolerances, and materials that allows the fabrication or construction of the component or system. Every dimension of a component or system does not have to be stated in writing on the drawing because the user can actually measure the distance (e.g., the length of a part) from the drawing and divide or multiply by the stated scale to obtain the correct measurements.

The scale of a drawing is usually presented as a ratio and is read as illustrated in the following examples. 

1" = 1" Read as 1 inch (on the drawing) equals 1 inch (on the actual component or system). This can also be stated as FULL SIZE in the scale block of the drawing. The measured distance on the drawing is the actual distance or size of the component.

3/8" = 1' Read as 3/8 inch (on the drawing) equals 1 foot (on the actual component or system). This is called 3/8 scale. For example, if a component part measures 6/8 inch on the drawing, the actual component measures 2 feet.

1/2" = 1' Read as 1/2 inch (on the drawing) equals 1 foot (on the actual component or system). This is called 1/2 scale. For example, if a component part measures 1-1/2 inches on the drawing the actual component measures 3 feet.

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