Hollow everyday circular objects appear differently than drawn two-dimensional circles. Objects like pipes and hoses have two different diameters. The outside diameter measures the distance of a straight line from one point on the outside of the object, through its center, and to an opposite point on the outside. The internal diameter measures the inside of the object. Calculating the internal diameter depends on the outside diameter and the thickness of the outer circle.
- Measuring tape
Use a micrometer if you require an extremely precise measurement.
Find the total diameter of the object in question by taking a measurement from the outside wall of one side (the point of origination) straight across to the outside wall of the other side (the endpoint). Make sure that your measurement passes through the center of the object and that the point of origination and endpoint are on opposite sides of the object. For the purpose of an example, assume that the object you're measuring is a large pipe that has a total diameter of 40 inches.
Determine the thickness of the object. Depending on the object you're measuring, you can do this either by looking up information about the object on a data sheet or by physically measuring the thickness from the outer wall to the inner wall. Keep in mind that because you're measuring only the wall thickness, your measurement shouldn't include any of the space within the object. For the example of our 40-inch pipe, assume that the thickness measures at 2 inches.
Because your initial diameter measurement includes the thickness of the object both at the point of origination and the endpoint of the measurement, it actually passes through the wall of the object twice. To compensate for this, multiply your thickness measurement by 2. For the pipe example, this means you would multiply the 2-inch thickness by 2 to end up with 4 inches of pipe wall as part of your total diameter.
Subtract the doubled thickness from the total diameter to calculate the internal diameter. Doing so removes the object walls from your measurement, leaving only the space between them. In our 40-inch pipe example, the 40-inch diameter includes 4 inches of pipe wall that needs to be removed. Subtracting 4 inches from 40 inches gives us:
This means that the internal diameter of the pipe in our example is 36 inches.
Things You'll Need
- "Basic Math and Pre-Algebra"; Jerry Bobrow; 1995
- "Do-It-Yourself Plumbing for Dummies"; Donald R. Prestly; 2008
- Use a micrometer if you require an extremely precise measurement.
About the Author
Chance E. Gartneer began writing professionally in 2008 working in conjunction with FEMA. He has the unofficial record for the most undergraduate hours at the University of Texas at Austin. When not working on his children's book masterpiece, he writes educational pieces focusing on early mathematics and ESL topics.