Used to measure the volume of a liquid, graduated cylinders feature a narrow cylindrical shape with markings along the cylinder that represent the amount of liquid being measured. Graduated cylinders are considered more accurate and precise for measurement purposes than flasks and beakers but should not be used for volumetric analysis.
Graduated cylinders are typically constructed from plastic or glass, with each providing different benefits. Plastic graduated cylinders are impact resistant, with polyethylene graduated cylinders noted for their transparency and polypropylene for its excellent chemical resistance. Glass graduated cylinders are chemically inert, while borosilicate glass offers greater resistance to thermal shock than regular glass.
Graduated cylinders have a solid base or foot for stability and a spout to facilitate pouring out the contents. Because they are somewhat unsteady, some glass cylinders also have a plastic bumper or ring to help prevent accidental breakage if the cylinder falls over.
Mixing (graduated) cylinders have ground glass joints instead of a spout or are closed with a stopper. These are generally used to make dilutions.
Typical graduated cylinder capacities range from 10 to 4,000mL. Glass graduated cylinders may be manufactured to ASTM or other specific standards. Some are serialized and may come with certificates of traceability.