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Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing: Why ?
Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing (GDT) is a method for precisely defining the geometry of mechanical parts. It introduces tools which allow mechanical designers, fabricators, and inspectors to effectively communicate complex geometrical descriptions which are not otherwise able to be described in a defined language.

Figure 1.1

A good example of why GDT is needed is the automobile stamped chassis shown in Figure 1.1. The rear quarter panel must fit snugly in order to allow spot welds and in this competitive business, cosmetic appearance and noise abatement are critical. Without GDT, geometric description of this assembly is difficult if not impossible. Computer modelling of these complex surfaces continues to increase the complexity of interface shapes.

Illustrated in Figure 1.2 is an imprecise sand-cast sewer termination fitting. Its hole pattern must mate with the corresponding pattern of the equally imprecise mating pipe. Flatness is also an issue with these rough-surfaced parts. Inspectors must be able to pass as many parts as possible without sacrificing fit. Tens of thousands of the parts are produced. GDT allows fabricators, inspectors, and assemblers to match covers with equally imprecise pipes.

Figure 1.2

Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing is a vast language of which there are many facets. However, what is commonly used is a small subset of the total. This subset is based on concepts which MUST be learned in order to progress further. Without a solid understanding of these fundamentals, one cannot gain a firm grasp of later topics. We will present the most essential (and often misinterpreted) topics in a step-by-step fashion, starting with a simple two-dimensional case. After the 2D case has been understood, the full three-dimensional geometry will be described. We also include common areas of confusion and a reference section, but at this point the primary objective is to explain the fundamentals. Please select "2D DATUMS" from the menu bar to the left to continue.
 
History of Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing
 
Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing symbols have been in use since at least the turn of the century. GDT was especially important during the Second World War in relation to extremely high volume production of Liberty Ships, aircraft, and ground vehicles. The automotive industry, with its high volumes, has also benefited from GDT. The computer industry, in particular mass storage manufacturers, have used GDT extensively to increase their yields of high-volume and low-margin hard disk drives. However, as with most engineering and scientific methodologies, GDT was not rigorously established and documented until later in the twentieth century. The American National Standards Institute publication in 1982 of ANSI Y14.5M-1982 was a turning point in the rigorous, unambiguous standardization of the methodology.

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