Graduated Cylinder: Types, Uses, Calibration, Advantages, Disadvantages

Graduated cylinders, precision instruments employed in laboratories, are designed for accurate measurement of liquid volumes. Their slender configuration and well-defined markings ensure meticulous readings. Crafted from materials such as glass or plastic, these instruments play a pivotal role in experiments demanding exact measurements. The reliability and user-friendly nature of graduated cylinders make them indispensable tools for scientific experiments and procedures, where precision is paramount.

Graduated Cylinder Types, Uses, Advantages, Disadvantages
Graduated Cylinder Types, Uses, Advantages, Disadvantages

Graduated Cylinder- Definition

A graduated cylinder, also known as a measuring cylinder, is a laboratory glassware designed for precise measurement of liquid volumes. It features a cylindrical shape with calibrated horizontal lines, allowing for accurate readings of incremental volume changes.

Graduated cylinders are available in various sizes and can be made of glass or plastic, with plastic options offering increased durability and reduced susceptibility to breakage. These instruments are essential for scientific experiments and procedures, providing a reliable means of obtaining precise measurements of liquid volumes. Additionally, graduated cylinders can be employed in density measurements by determining the volume of fluid displaced when certain objects are submerged in them.

The graduated cylinder comes in various types distinguished by volume, such as 5 ml, 10 ml, 25 ml, 50 ml, 100 ml, 250 ml, and so forth. Another categorization is based on the material used in its construction, with options being either plastic or glass.

Parts of Graduated Cylinder

A graduated cylinder comprises several essential components:

Parts of Graduated Cylinder
Parts of Graduated Cylinder
[Image Source: microbeonline]

Cylindrical Barrel: The primary section holding the liquid, typically constructed from clear glass or plastic. The cylindrical barrel, taller than its width, enhances volume measurement accuracy.

Pouring Lip: Positioned at the barrel’s top, the pouring lip functions as a spout, facilitating precise and easy pouring of liquids, especially during transfers between containers.

Base: The bottom part providing stability to the graduated cylinder. Depending on the cylinder type, the base can be flat or rounded. While rounded bases reduce the risk of tipping, they may slightly complicate graduation reading.

Graduations: Volumetric markings on the barrel indicating liquid volume, typically denoted in milliliters (mL) or liters (L). Graduations should be evenly spaced and easily readable for accurate measurements.

Stopper: Some graduated cylinders include a stopper insertable at the barrel’s top to seal it. Made of glass or rubber, stoppers prevent spills or evaporation, enhancing the cylinder’s utility.

Types of Graduated Cylinder

Based on Materials Used

  • Plastic Graduated Cylinder: Plastic cylinders offer alternatives based on materials, with TPX® PMP providing clarity and durability, while polypropylene offers translucency and specific scales for precision.

Materials: Constructed from TPX® polymethyl pentene (PMP) or polypropylene.
TPX® PMP: Clear, expensive, heat-tolerant (up to 177℃), and autoclavable.
Polypropylene: Translucent, featuring total contained (TC) and total delivered (TD) scales; suitable for volumes exceeding 1000 ml.

  • Glass Graduated Cylinder: Glass cylinders, made from borosilicate, are known for their robustness and resistance to temperature changes, but their fragility limits their size range.

Material: Crafted from borosilicate glass.
Known for low thermal expansion (up to 268 ℃), maintaining transparency and strength.

Based on Precision

  • Class A: Class A cylinders are designed for superior accuracy and chemical resistance, making them ideal for precise volumetric measurements. Made with borosilicate glass; offers higher accuracy and chemical resistance. Preferred for precise volumetric analysis.
  • Class B: Class B cylinders, while less precise than Class A, are versatile and suitable for general laboratory applications where extreme precision is not essential. Made of soda-lime glass or borosilicate (depending on the manufacturer); slightly less precise. Suited for general laboratory purposes where precision requirements are not as stringent.

Based on Measurement Capacity

Regarding measurement capacity, the graduated cylinder is categorized into various types, each designed to measure specific volumes. The specifications for each type are outlined as follows:

5 ml Graduated Cylinder

  • Least graduation: 0.1
  • Main graduation marking: Every 1.0, with intermediate graduation at 0.5
  • Minimum wall thickness: 0.9 mm
  • Maximum inner diameter: 11.2 mm
  • Tolerance for class A: 0.05 ml; for class B: 0.10 ml

10 ml Graduated Cylinder

  • Least graduation marking: 0.1 or 0.2 (in the case of 0.1 least marking)
  • Main graduation marking: 10.0, with intermediate graduation at 0.5 (in the case of 0.1 least marking only)
  • Minimum wall thickness: 1.9 mm
  • Maximum inner diameter: 15.2 mm
  • Tolerance to contain or deliver for class A and class B: 0.10 ml and 0.20 ml, respectively

25 ml Graduated Cylinder

  • Main graduation marking can vary from 2.0 to 5.0
  • Maximum inner diameter varies from 18.5 mm to 19.3
  • Least marking changes from 0.2 in 2.0 to 0.5 in 5.0 main
  • Intermediate graduation marking remains at 1.0
  • Tolerance to contain and deliver: 0.17 ml and 0.34 ml
  • Minimum wall thickness: 1.1 mm

50 ml Graduated Cylinder

  • Main marking: 5.0 or 10.0, with least marking at 1.0
  • Maximum inner diameter: 23 mm
  • Minimum wall thickness: 1.2 mm
  • Tolerance to contain or deliver for class A and class B: 0.25 ml and 0.50 ml, respectively

100 ml Graduated Cylinder

  • Main marking: Interval of 10.0, with intermediate marking at 5.0 and least marking at 1.0
  • Maximum inner diameter: 29.6 mm
  • Minimum wall thickness: 1.3 mm
  • Tolerance to deliver or contain for class A and class B: 0.50 ml and 1.00 ml

250 ml Graduated Cylinder

  • Main marking: Interval of 20.0, with intermediate marking at 10.0 and least marking at 1.0
  • Maximum inner diameter: 42.4 mm
  • Minimum wall thickness: 1.5 mm
  • Tolerance to contain and deliver for class A and class B: 1.00 ml and 2.00 ml

500 ml Graduated Cylinder

  • Minimum wall thickness: 1.6 mm
  • Maximum inner diameter: 50.8 mm
  • Least marking: Interval of 5.0, with intermediate at 25.0 and main at 50.0
  • Tolerance to contain or deliver for class A and class B: 2.00 ml and 4.00 ml

1000 ml Graduated Cylinder

  • Main marking: Interval of 100.0, with intermediate marking at 50.0 and least marking at 50.0
  • Maximum inner diameter: 63 mm
  • Minimum wall thickness: 2.0 mm
  • Tolerance to contain or deliver for class A and class B: 3.00 ml and 6.00 ml

2000 ml Graduated Cylinder

  • Maximum inner diameter: 82.1 mm
  • Minimum wall thickness: 2.0 mm
  • Main marking: Interval of 200.0, with intermediate at 100.0 and least at 20.0
  • Tolerance to contain or deliver for class A and class B: 6.00 ml and 12.00 ml

4000 ml Graduated Cylinder

  • Maximum inner diameter: 110 mm
  • Minimum wall thickness: 2.2 mm
  • Main graduation marking: 500.0, intermediate marking: 250.0, least marking: 50.0
  • Tolerance to contain or deliver for class A and class B: 14.50 ml and 29.00 ml

Based on Style

Style I: These cylinders are designed for ease of pouring, featuring a beaded lip and spout for controlled and precise liquid transfer.
Style II: This offers additional safety during handling and pouring, featuring a stopper on a grounded tapered neck to prevent spills.
Style III: It Resembles Style I with a beaded lip and spout but includes a reinforcing band near the top (made of rubber or plastic). Style III provides extra durability and structural support with a reinforcing band, making it suitable for more robust applications.

Uses of Graduated Cylinders

Precision in Volume Measurement: The graduated cylinder serves as a crucial tool for accurately measuring the volumes of liquids in various laboratory settings. This cylindrical vessel surpasses the utility of beakers and conical flasks, finding its prevalence in chemistry, biological, microbiological, and forensic laboratories. While providing a higher level of accuracy compared to general laboratory flasks and beakers, graduated cylinders are not the preferred choice for volumetric analysis. Volumetric glassware, including volumetric flasks and pipettes, is favored when precision is paramount in measurement.

Versatility in Application: Apart from liquid volume measurement, graduated cylinders find occasional use in determining the volume of solids by measuring the displacement of a liquid. Their versatility extends to mixing liquids and facilitating the transfer of liquids between containers. The resistance of glass cylinders to heat and chemicals makes them a durable choice, with the caution to account for the meniscus during measurements. In instances where breakage is a concern, plastic cylinders offer a suitable alternative, and coating can be applied to address meniscus-related issues.

Choosing the Right Graduated Cylinder

Selecting an appropriate graduated cylinder involves careful consideration of factors such as size, calibration, and material. Glass cylinders, known for their heat resistance, are preferable in applications requiring such resilience. On the other hand, plastic cylinders, less prone to breakage, are favored for situations prioritizing chemical compatibility. The readability and clarity of graduation markings on the cylinder are crucial for precise measurements.

Additionally, application-specific features should be taken into account, such as the presence of a spout for easy pouring during frequent liquid mixing. By meticulously evaluating these factors, one can ensure the optimal selection of a graduated cylinder that aligns with specific needs, guaranteeing accuracy and efficiency in laboratory experiments and applications.

How To Use Graduated Cylinder

Using a graduated cylinder accurately is crucial for obtaining precise measurements. Here are step-by-step instructions to ensure correct usage:

  • Before pouring any liquid, rinse the graduated cylinder with the fluid to be measured. This ensures accurate readings and eliminates potential contaminants. Hold the cylinder with the non-dominant hand during pouring to prevent tipping.
  • Hold the cylinder around the top, away from the graduation marks, and bring it to eye level. Examine the lower meniscus of the liquid, ensuring it aligns with your eye level. For enhanced visibility, consider placing black paper behind the cylinder to make the meniscus reflection easier to read.
  • The markings on the cylinder are typically divided by 1 ml increments. Mentally assign lines 1 to 9 to calculate the exact volume. If the liquid falls short of the desired volume, use a micropipette or plastic pipette to add the liquid dropwise until the desired volume is achieved.
  • After use, rinse the cylinder with deionized water. To dry the cylinder, use filter paper longer than its length. Fold the filter paper lengthwise, insert it into the cylinder, and move it up and down to absorb moisture and facilitate drying.
  • When choosing a graduated cylinder, select one with markings visible through the substance being measured. Choose a cylinder made from a material suitable for the substance. Ensure the selected size covers the volume range needed.
  • Find two consecutive labeled graduations and subtract their values to determine the volume between them. Count the spaces and divide the volume by the number of spaces to establish the value between each marked graduation.
  • Place the cylinder on a flat surface, look at the meniscus at eye level to avoid parallax errors, and read the value from the bottom of the meniscus. Estimate the final decimal place by dividing the volume between graduations into smaller segments, such as 0.25, 0.50, and 0.75.
  • Record the volume and appropriate units after reading the graduated cylinder.
  • Clean the graduated cylinder thoroughly after each use to maintain accuracy and prevent cross-contamination.

Calibrating a Graduated Cylinder

Calibrating a graduated cylinder is essential to ensure accurate volume measurements. calibration is specific to the type of cylinder and its intended use – either to contain or to deliver liquid accurately. Regular calibration ensures reliable measurements for scientific experiments. The calibration process differs for cylinders marked as “to contain” (TC) or “to deliver” (TD). Here’s a detailed guide for each type:

Calibrating a TC Cylinder

  • Set the balance to zero.
  • Place the empty graduated cylinder on the balance and record its mass.
  • Fill the cylinder to 20 or 25 percent of its capacity with distilled water.
  • Observe the meniscus and record the volume reading at the bottom of the U-shape.
  • Add the last few drops of water dropwise to achieve the desired mark.
  • Return the cylinder to the balance and note its new mass.
  • Repeat steps 2 and 3 for volumes of 50, 75, and 100 percent of the cylinder’s maximum volume.
  • Subtract the mass of the empty cylinder from each reading to obtain the mass of the water.
  • Use graph paper or a computer program to plot calibration data.
  • Draw a straight line through the data points.
  • Refer to the graph when using the cylinder, finding the true volume indicated by the y-value.

Calibrating a TD Cylinder

  • Set the balance to zero.
  • Place an empty beaker or plastic cup on the balance and record its mass.
  • Fill the cylinder to 25 percent of its capacity with distilled water.
  • Record the volume reading at the bottom of the U-shaped meniscus.
  • Add water dropwise to achieve the desired volume mark.
  • Pour the water into the beaker and record its new mass.
  • Repeat steps 2 and 3 for volumes of 50, 75, and 100 percent of the cylinder’s maximum volume.
  • Subtract the mass of the empty cylinder from each reading to obtain the mass of the water.
  • Use graph paper or a computer program to plot calibration data.
  • Draw a straight line through the data points.
  • Refer to the graph when using the cylinder, finding the true delivery volume indicated by the y-value.

Advantages of Graduated Cylinder

  • Versatile Range of Volumes: Offers a broad spectrum of volume options, accommodating various measurement needs.
  • Precision in Small Liquid Volumes: Ensures accurate measurement, even for the smallest liquid volumes, contributing to reliable experimental outcomes.
  • Error Minimization through Size Selection: Enables the reduction of errors by selecting the appropriate cylinder size for specific measurement requirements.
  • Efficient Volumetric Delivery: Facilitates easy and precise pouring due to its ‘easier to deliver’ design, enhancing the efficiency of liquid transfer.
  • Pouring Convenience with Spout: Incorporates a spout, aiding in the pouring process and providing additional convenience during liquid handling.

Disadvantages of Graduated Cylinder

  • Marginally High Error for Analytical Applications: The level of error may still be marginally high for applications demanding extremely precise measurements, particularly at an analytical level.
  • Requirement for Formal Lab Training: Proper and accurate usage demands formal laboratory training, making it necessary for users to undergo adequate education on its handling.
  • Unsuitable Shape for Solution Storage: The tall and thin shape of the cylinder is not conducive for storing solutions, limiting its utility in scenarios where storage is a primary requirement.

Video on How To Use Graduated Cylinders

YouTube video

References

  • https://microbeonline.com/graduated-cylinder-types-uses-and-how-to-use-it/#Types_of_Graduated_Cylinder
  • https://www.rdworldonline.com/what-are-graduated-cylinders/
  • https://eduinput.com/graduated-cylinder/
  • https://knowledge.carolina.com/discipline/physical-science/chemistry/how-to-use-a-graduated-cylinder/
  • https://www.allthescience.org/what-are-graduated-cylinders.htm
  • https://www.scienceequip.com.au/blogs/news/measuring-cylinder-types-uses-importance
  • https://www.garbermetrology.com/precision-calibration/fluid-property-and-volume/graduatedcylinder/#
  • https://www.scienceequip.com.au/blogs/news/measuring-cylinders-vs-beakers-pros-cons-of-common-lab-glassware
  • https://www.globalspec.com/learnmore/labware_scientific_instruments/labware_consumables/graduated_cylinders

About Author

Photo of author

Jyoti Bashyal

Jyoti Bashyal is a dedicated researcher specializing in computational chemistry, enzyme inhibition, in-vitro analysis, and sustainable chemistry. Alongside her scientific pursuits, she finds immense joy in creative writing, approaching her work with unwavering determination and a positive outlook. With an open mind and a thirst for knowledge, she embraces new opportunities to learn and grow, embodying the spirit of curiosity and continuous self-improvement.

Leave a Comment