Types of Fits: How to Choose the Right Fits in Engineering

Types of Fits - How to Choose the Right Fits in Engineering

Simple and complex machines are often created in small parts, requiring assembling the individual components. The integration of each element is essential to the entire product’s overall functionality. One integral component that serves as the relationship between each mating component is fit.

Before building these machines or creating a design for your fabrication, you must understand the different engineering fits and their applications. This article explores the different kinds of fits, providing you with their applications and factors that determine the selection. Let’s get into them.

What is a Fit?

What is a Fit

Often, manufacturers create components in parts that must integrate, either slipping on or pressing against the other. The relationship between the different elements is critical to the functionality of the entire product setup or assembly.

Engineering fits are the mechanical relationship between mating components. It describes the extent of contact and determines how tight or loose the parts are when joined, facilitating the slipping or pressing feature.

As mentioned earlier, fits are vital structures and selecting the right one for your design requires understanding the different types. Let’s take a more detailed approach to these components.

The Hole and Shaft Basis System

Generally, engineering fits occur in a hole or shaft-based system but are not limited to a round component. The two share similarities, with each system consisting of a shaft and a hole. The hole is an internal feature, while the shaft is external.

Fits apply to different mating components, but they all serve the same function – regulation of the size of mating shafts and holes.

In a hole-based system, the hole diameter remains constant while the shaft is varied till you obtain an ideal fit. The reverse is the case for a shaft-based system, where the shaft size is constant, and you examine different hole sizes until you get a suitable fit.

In manufacturing, the hole-based system is the more popular choice because of the ease of altering shaft sizes compared to those of holes.

Fits and Tolerances

Like fits, tolerances are critical in determining the assemblage of individual parts in a product setup.  Consequently, machinists must place utmost interest in these two concepts during parts assembly.

Tolerance is the range (difference) between the maximum and minimum size limit. They guide the dimensions and range of mating machined parts along with fits for an easy and secure assembly.

How to Name Different Fit Types in Mechanical Engineering

When choosing the right fit for your fabrication or parts assembling, knowing the selected fits’ names is vital. This helps prevent error, as describing each fit type to your machinists may prove ineffective.

The International Organization for Standardization gives insight into the naming of engineering fits. According to the body, each fit had an alpha-numeric code that denoted the fit type, features, and tolerance. The alphabet signals the hole or shaft, with the uppercase representing the hole, while the lowercase signals the shaft.

For instance, a typical fit may have the code H8/h7. The code denotes that the fit has a tolerance range for holes (H8) and shaft (h7). Each fit code is a signal for machinists and engineers. It provides them with info to identify the maximum and minimum size limit of the hole and shaft systems.

Types of Fits

Types of Fits

In engineering, there are ideally three kinds of fits: clearance, interference, and transition fit. However, each fit type has different other subtypes.

Clearance Fits

A clearance fits allow for loose mating – that is, there is a slight gap between the mating parts. This allows for free movement of the components, making this fits a suitable option for parts and components that need to quickly slide or glide in and out with little to no obstruction.

One of the characteristic features of this fit is that the hole size is usually more extensive than the shafts. This results in two situations – a maximum or minimum clearance. The shaft uses the minimum diameter in the max clearance, while the hole is at the max size. However, the hole is minimum in the minimum clearance while the shaft is maximum.

The clearance, which is the difference between the hole size and those of the shaft, in a clearance fit is often positive. It ranges between +0.025mm to 0.0089 mm.

Clearance fits can be subdivided into five distinct categories depending on how loose the fit is.

  • Loose Running Fits

These clearance fits have the most significant clearance – set at the upper limit of the range. The fits are suitable for parts and components with little accuracy requirements.

  • Free Running Fits

These fits are similar to loose running clearance fits. Here, the parts can move at high speeds. Therefore, they are suitable in components with little accuracy and tight tolerance requirements.

  • Close Running Fits

These are fits designed for minimum clearance, having better dimensional and positioning accuracy. They allow easy movements even at high speeds and temperatures.

  • Sliding Fits

These engineering fits have high accuracy and thus are for components with high precision and accuracy specifications. The clearance is minimal and restricts movement to sliding directions.

  • Locational Clearance Fits

As the sliding fits, they are high precision engineering fits and provide minimal clearance. They may require adequate lubrication to allow easy movement.

Interference Fit

In an interference fit, high frictional forces tightly hold the mating surfaces. Therefore, it is sometimes called pressed or friction fit. The fit involves fastening the two mating components by pressing them together. It could be through two processes involving a significant force to couple or uncouple either component.

The maximum interference is the difference between the shaft’s max size and the hole’s minimum size in this fit type. Likewise, the minimum interference is the difference between the shaft’s smallest and largest hole sizes.

Ideally, the clearance range in an interference fit is between -0.001 mm and -0.0042 mm. Let’s examine the three forms in which this engineering fit may occur.

  • Press Fit

They have minimal negative clearance for moderate-strength joints. Also, interference is minimal, as assemblage is often through cold pressing.

  • Driving Fit

They have more significant interference compared to the press fits. Also, during cold pressing, it requires a higher force for assembling.

  • Forced Fit

This refers to some of the strongest kinds of engineering fits. The mating components are pressed together, often by heating the hole and freezing the shaft. Assemblage requires extreme care and tolerance management as disassembling into the individual parts is almost impossible, often leading to breakage.

Transition Fit

The transition fit is an intermediary between the clearance and interference fits. It may result in either fit type depending on the application. The mating components may have minimal clearance or interference. However, they tend to have more clearance than interference fits, though not significant enough to guarantee easy movement around the joints.

When there is a negative clearance as interference fits, it has a small load-carrying capacity. However, a positive clearance suggests less play. Ideally, transition fits are suitable for parts with high precision and accuracy assembling. This fit has a mechanical interference or clearance range between +0.023 mm to -0.018mm.

Below are the two primary forms of this fit.

  • Similar Fit

This fit leaves an extremely small interference or clearance. Applying force using a mallet is ideal for creating this kind of fit during assembly.

  • Fixed Fit

Also, it leaves a small clearance or interference, though slightly tighter than the similar fit.

When selecting the fit for your fabrication, you must understand that each is distinct and creates a unique mechanical contact with a particular function.

Applying Engineering Fit Type to Real-World Applications

Applying Engineering Fit Type to Real-World Applications

Let’s examine real-life applications of the different kinds of engineering fits.

Clearance Fits

They provide minimal allowance and are ideal in mating components with few precision requirements. Below are typical applications of the different kinds of fits.

  • Loose Running Fits: Application in fittings exposed to corrosion, dust, heat and mechanical stresses. Typical in locks, pivots, etc.
  • Free Running Fits: Used in parts with little rotational movements requiring thin lubrication – For example, shafts and simple bearings.
  • Close Running Fits: Ideal for machine tools, cutters and spindles, sliding rods, etc.
  • Sliding Fits: Applications in shafts, sliding valves and gears, machine tools parts, clutch discs and other automotive parts, etc
  • Locational Clearance Fits: Suitable in shafts and roller guides, etc.

Interference Fits

These fits are common in fasteners. They create compressive stresses around the holes, thereby increasing their fatigue life. These friction or press fits makes them suitable in bearings, hubs, bushings, etc. Driving fits, usually tighter, are used to mount gears and shafts permanently.

Transition Fits

The fixed fits are typically used in shaft armatures, while the lesser tight transition fits – similar fits – are typical in hubs, bearings, gears, pulleys, etc.

How to Choose a Suitable Fit for Your Project

How to Choose a Suitable Fit for Your Project

When choosing the right fit for your engineering, you need to examine deciding factors. Let’s look at the basic ones.


The purpose of the fits in your fabrication is critical. For example, you shouldn’t use a loose running clearance fit in parts with high precision requirements. Therefore, your fabrication’s tolerance and accuracy specifications will play significant roles in the fit you select. You also need to consider the part’s functionalities, among other intricacies.


The tolerance of your product must be put into examination when deciding on the kind of fits to choose. You must understand the concept of tolerance and how it applies to your fabrication, and then you go with a fit that suits your parts tolerance requirements.

Also, the tightness and ease of movement of the mating surfaces must be considered when selecting the fits.

Furthermore, you must factor in tolerance slack, which accounts for a particular product’s maximum or minimum tolerance. For example, during assemblage, the constituting components may have different tolerances, which may add up, resulting in an overly high tolerance of the overall product.

Therefore, you must be careful to cater to each part’s tolerance to ensure the desired outcome of your project.


Your budget is another essential factor to consider during parts fabrication. Sometimes, you might not have enough funds to meet all your design requirements. Therefore, you have to rid the project of unnecessary but expensive additions.

For example, if your product does not require high precision and tight tolerance, there’s no need to use fits that suit such specifications, considering they will be more expensive.

Using a less tolerant fit is excellent for cutting down costs. Like engineers, you should weigh your options and find the cost-effective ones that ensure successful product development.

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We ensure to adhere to all your specifications, even exceeding your expectations. When looking for a partner for 3D printing, injection molding, and other related technologies, do not hesitate to contact us!


Fits are essential to engineering and manufacturing. They allow the assembling of gigantic and sophisticated structures. Even simpler machines like wristwatches have different minute components that require suitable fits to make it a whole.

This blog provides insight into different fit types mechanical engineers employ during fabrication. We provided you with detailed information on the mechanics of each fit and its mechanical applications. Also, we discussed the factors that you must consider before selecting the right fits for your fabrications.


According to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), three kinds of engineering fits are used in manufacturing. They include clearance fits, interference, and transition fits.

The selection of engineering fits should be based on established bodies, especially the ISO. The American Society of Mechanical Engineers is another reputable engineering standard where you can find detailed info on mechanical tolerances and dimensions for every fit, including the variations in hole and shaft sizing.

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