3 Types Of Fits and How to Choose the Right One?

What is Fit?

In precision mechanics, fit refers to the degree of ‘looseness’ with which a shaft is inserted into a bored hole.

This coupling is related to the tolerance or allowance of both parts’ dimensions. The shaft and the orifice must be of a similar diameter, otherwise, there will not be a correct adjustment. With this in mind, measurements have been internationally standardized according to ISO regulations to ensure the interchangeability of items and their mass production.

Tolerance values are designated with a capital letter in the case of orifices and lower-case letters in the case of shafts. The lower the value the higher the machining costs, as greater precision is required.

Maximum and minimum clearance

The maximum clearance of a fit is the difference between the upper bound of the orifice diameter and the lower bound of the shaft diameter.

maximum clearance = maximum orifice diameter – minimum shaft diameter

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The minimum clearance meanwhile is the difference between the lower bound of the orifice diameter and the upper bound of the shaft diameter.

minimum clearance = minimum orifice diameter – maximum shaft diameter

The maximum clearance in a loose or sliding fit is always greater than zero; on the other hand, in a tight fit both the maximum and minimum clearance are negative.

Types Of Fit

There are three types of fit commonly referenced in manufacturing and mechanical engineering.

types of fit

1. Clearance Fit

Clearance fits allow for loose mating, where free movement is important and a certain amount of play is desired. We see clearance fits called for where elements should be able to slide in and out without obstruction, and where alignment can be loosely guided but does not require tight precision. Examples of clearance fit might include bolt/shaft holes where an element will slide freely through another feature.

2. Interference Fit

An interference fit will be much tighter than a clearance fit. Also referred to as a press fit or friction fit, the interference fit requires some degree of force to join two components. Pressing a bushing, bearing, dowel pin, or other items into their mating components are all examples of how an interference fit can be used. Once joined, this creates a relatively solid union that would require substantial force or potential machine operations to uncouple.

3. Transition Fit

A transition fit would fall between clearance and an interference fit. Transition fits are called for when accurate alignment is critical, and mating parts must join with greater precision. You may also see these referred to as a slip or push-fit.

There will still be a greater degree of clearance than a press/interference fit, but it will be substantially smaller and should remove excess play or movement in the joint.

How to Choose Suitable Fit for Your Projects

Choosing the right type of fit for your projects depends on understanding several factors. Below are the important factors that you should watch out for:


Based on what you need, there are different types of fits ideal for different kinds of purposes. By going through properties such as accuracy, tolerance, exhibited by the different types of fits and the product’s proposed function, you should be able to decide on the right fits for a project.


Before deciding on the right types of fit for your products, you should know your budget. For example, using fits with tighter tolerances will cost more than normal. Therefore, you must weigh your options carefully. It would be best to get a fit that delivers the right tolerance needed to perform its functions while reducing product development costs.


You must understand the concept of tolerance of a product to choose the right types of fits for such a product. You have to be specific about what you want. Also, you must also answer questions such as whether you want the components to rotate in a full circle or want them to be tight?

Another thing you also need to be careful about is the tolerance slack, which is the total maximum or minimum tolerance of a particular measurement. For example, you have to be careful about the aggregation of different parts’ tolerance to make up a single product. This is very important if the resulting tolerance is very high.