What's new
What's new

Is SPI Any Good??

IDK. I like to encourage domestic production, but I don’t really want to encourage domestic producers to sell me sub par stuff. My new Starrett stuff isn’t as nice an my old Starrett stuff, it seems to be incredibly easy to rust, and that’s before we start talking about the awful digital calipers.

I bought a brand new 199z level a few years ago and could have done better machining it on the knee mill in my garage. I wanted to love Starrett, I still do, but it’s a bit like being a Detroit Lions fan.

Agree with this. I'm totally willing to pay more for the same quality to support US companies, but to buy substandard products just because it is 'made in the USA*' isn't ideal. Some Starrett is best in class, but a lot isn't. As long as the product isn't being sold at below cost to put competition out of business or you don't want to support a country's policies, buy what's best.

*Often from components made overseas anyways.
 
I just received a Starrett indicator 3908A today. For some reason I thought I was buying an American Made product but turns out it's imported.

Oh well, I tried.

It will be a sad day if Starrett closes its doors.
 
"Global Series" are the keywords to look for if you want to avoid the import stuff. I really question the rationale for marketing this stuff under the Starrett name, as all it does is create uncertainty and ill will when customers realize they've been had. I'm incredulous that these import tools are really worth it long term, it feels like a management cash grab that creates a more serious problem (brand dilution) down the road, but only they would really know.
 
I just indicated in a table probe. Tested the new Starrett and compared it to my older indicators. I wasn't impressed.

Starrett 3908A - made in ??? - It's supposed to be a .0001" indicator but its sticky and bounces around.

Mitutoyo KNE094 - made in Japan - .0005" indicator but same diameter dial as the Starrett. Performed about the same as the Starrett.

B&S BesTest 7033-3 - Swiss made - .00005" gradation - This thing is silky smooth.

May not be a fair comparison but I thought a new, out of the box, Starrett would work better.

I take back my Patriotic comment ... buy swiss.
 
I have or had some SPI mic's from way back that I'm pretty sure they were Tesa. I thought they were pretty good. So like any thing rebadged it depends on who made it at the time. As resellers don't stick with suppliers for a lifetime ,most probably the lowest bidder. I think the stuff when SPI first started was good quality. Kind of like ENCO.
 
I have or had some SPI mic's from way back that I'm pretty sure they were Tesa. I thought they were pretty good. So like any thing rebadged it depends on who made it at the time. As resellers don't stick with suppliers for a lifetime ,most probably the lowest bidder. I think the stuff when SPI first started was good quality. Kind of like ENCO.
Yes, I have a 1987 SPI catalog. It includes Tesa micrometers, the Swiss-made Valcut line of trepanning cutters, and 40 position tool posts and holders (including the retracting internal and external threading holders) under the name "Multi-Quick." Also Hoffman rotary tables and dividing heads. And Tesa dial test indicators. There are other tools like levels with prices that suggest they were made in Switzerland/Western Europe. OTOH there are "economy" micrometers with prices that suggest that were not made in Switzerland.

And some quality US stuff like the Finn 5C collet indexers, the ones that were similar to the Hardinge HV.

I think "Swiss Precision Instruments" wasn't quite the misnomer it became.

David
 
Re. Starrett tools, I am pretty sure their website specifies which of their tools are USA-made. I have certainly seen this on some items I have checked.
That's right. Starrett recently re-did their website. Previously, made-in-USA tools were identified by an American flag accompanying the picture of the tool. Non-USA made tools had an accompanying "Global Series" logo, a sort of stylized image of the Earth.

Now made-in-USA tools are identified with a US flag based image and the words "Proudly Made In USA". Non-USA made tools don't have anything. metal-ica's 3908A doesn't have anything.

David
 
That's right. Starrett recently re-did their website. Previously, made-in-USA tools were identified by an American flag accompanying the picture of the tool. Non-USA made tools had an accompanying "Global Series" logo, a sort of stylized image of the Earth.

Now made-in-USA tools are identified with a US flag based image and the words "Proudly Made In USA". Non-USA made tools don't have anything. metal-ica's 3908A doesn't have anything.

David
Don't worry, here's a made in USA Starrett part that was garbage. I want to like these guys and they're always friendly at trade shows, but they make it hard sometimes.
https://www.practicalmachinist.com/...starrett-box-label-before.404748/post-3959901
 
I have used and calibrated many SPI calipers, micrometers, and indicators. The ones I've used have been accurate. The question is how often you use it and how many years you want it to last.

SPI calipers might last you 10 or 15 years and the Mitutoyos might last you 30. It also depends on how often you use them and the style of gage. I would think venier style mics by SPI would last even longer vs digital. You are relying strictly on the thread form and scale alignment with the veniers so there is less that can go wrong.
 
Yes, I have a 1987 SPI catalog. It includes Tesa micrometers, the Swiss-made Valcut line of trepanning cutters, and 40 position tool posts and holders (including the retracting internal and external threading holders) under the name "Multi-Quick." Also Hoffman rotary tables and dividing heads. And Tesa dial test indicators. There are other tools like levels with prices that suggest they were made in Switzerland/Western Europe. OTOH there are "economy" micrometers with prices that suggest that were not made in Switzerland.

And some quality US stuff like the Finn 5C collet indexers, the ones that were similar to the Hardinge HV.

I think "Swiss Precision Instruments" wasn't quite the misnomer it became.

David
Yes, that's what I recall as well. When I saw some SPI tools back in the late 70's-early 80's, I know Tesa was one of their brands, and they had a wide range of stuff available, at least as their catalog indicated. I had the impression at the time that they were simply another high-quality tool supplier that I didn't know much about. The less-mainstream tools, such as the radius and angle dresser that Stephen Thomas mentioned, falls into the category of more complex devices where (I think) there was less competition, and more room for a variety of makers and prices, and the quality of those items didn't really go down as much as the commodity tools like calipers and mics. It has been my observation that dial indicators often tell their own quality story, sometimes independent of the rest of a tool manufacturer's line-up, because of the nature of the parts and assembly practices.

As others have already said, SPI stuff these days is likely a bit more variable in quality; fit/finish and durability may be more open to question compared to the others, but for less-frequent, less-critical use likely to be fine.
 








 
Back
Top