Q – If a basic dimension does not show a specific tolerance what tolerance should be applied?

Elton Hughes


A – Basic dimensions by nature are a theoretically exact value; however, the feature(s) of a part they define as ideal or exact do need to have tolerances to permit acceptable levels of imperfection during manufacturing.

When a feature is defined with basic dimensions, the tolerance for that feature must be expressed through a geometric tolerance. Most often, the geometric tolerance is indicated directly to the feature or feature of size on the face of the drawing; however, some companies include a general geometrical tolerance (such as a position toleranceĀ or profile of a surface tolerance) in the drawing’s general notes. This can be an effective tool when the note is carefully written.

Drawings based on ISO standards frequently use a class of general geometrical tolerances standardized in ISO 2768-2 :1989. The three classes are identified through the use of the upper case letters H, K, or L after the ISO 2768 indication on the drawing. You would need a copy of the standard to interpret the amount of tolerance available.

If you are absolutely certain that a geometrical tolerance has not been applied to the basic dimension (check all drawing views), then the drawing must be considered as incomplete. Without a tolerance, selecting a manufacturing process for the considered feature is impossible to do with any amount of certainty, and there is no acceptance criteria to compare measurements to during the inspection process.

Thanks for writing,