Everything you need to know about the digital readout system

If you have a small lathe and want to retrofit it with a DRO system, you should be able to do it fairly quickly. In fact, most lathes and milling machines are often seen in prototype engineer factories. It may be equipped with a digital readout and control system. 

What is the role of digital readout?

Digital readout (DRO) uses a grating scale to show the machine’s measurement position. It may be installed on various machine tools or equipment, including lathes, milling machines, grinders, planers and similar equipment, even if the power supply has an anti-interference capability greater than 2200V. But the baud rate of 9600 is also compatible with a wide voltage input range of 90 to 240V, enabling both devices to operate successfully under these conditions.

What is the primary purpose of the DRO for your lathe?

A digital readout (DRO) is a linear scale mounted on a lathe’s slide rail and carriage axis for precise location information. When using this scale, Mechanical wear and backlash are not a problem. This is because it reads the position independent of the lead screw and displays the correct tool position information on the display. There is no need to read the lines on the vernier dial. 

The result is precision linear balances provide excellent accuracy and repeatability. It allows the user to position the tool precisely where the print size is at the readout position. Most of the three-step cessation measures have been eliminated. This greatly reduces the amount of arithmetic, calculation and waste generated. Spending less time checking and measuring results allows you to spend more time in the actual chip manufacturing process.

Considering a few basic concepts, Place the scale around the machine and outline the different mounting options. Any reservations about installing a digital readout on a mini lathe are on hold. There are other options to consider which make the process fresh and fun.


Digital readouts have several common display characteristics, including:

  • Input axis
  • Input channel
  • Resolution
  • Number of digits
  • Number of lines

The number of cores indicates the number of input cores that the digital readout can measure. It is common for digital readout to measure anywhere from one to four axes of measurement. This includes general and specific types. Resolution is the smallest measurement that reading can display. The number of digits and lines the readings can display are also important considerations.


Digital readouts can accept inputs from a variety of sources for different applications, including:

  • Coordinate measuring machine
  • Dimensional Meter
  • Machine tool
  • Measuring microscope
  • Light comparator

A coordinate measuring machine (CMM) is a mechanical system designed to move a measuring probe to determine the coordinates of a point on a workpiece surface. A measuring microscope is a microscope used by instrument manufacturers for measuring instrument properties. These microscopes are often used for measurements at lower magnifications. This allows for brighter and sharper images combined with a wide viewing angle. 

An optical comparator is an instrument that projects an enlarged image or profile of a part on a screen to compare it with a standard profile or overlay scale. It is used to measure, gauge, test, inspect, or inspect parts for compliance. Typical inputs accepted by digital readouts are analogue voltage, analogue Current, Encoder, Fiber Optic, LVDT, Parallel, Resistance, Series, Temperature and TTL.


Common display features in digital readout include an alphanumeric display, graphic representation and numbers. The display unit can be English, metric, or both. Common features that apply to digital readouts include absolute mode and enhanced mode, adjustable display, alarm, built-in keypad, memory and data programming set point options and a zero reset.

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