Datum Changes in ASME Y14.5-2009

This entry is part 7 of 8 in the series Dimensions and Tolerances

The following is posted about datum changes with the permission of the author, David DeLong, who is a ASME GD&T Professional (GDTP) at Quality Management Services, Inc.

Datum Changes to ASME Y14.5 – 2009

Under ASME Y14.5-2009, Maximum Material Condition (MMC) can now apply to datums that are features of size and also surfaces. The 94 standard would only allow MMC on datums that were features of size and NOT surfaces.

A feature of size is a hole or pin of any shape and also a width. In most cases in GD&T, the holes or pins are most important to assembly and are used a great deal as secondary and tertiary datums. Usually, the perimeter of a non-cylindrical part is not functionally important. There are certain cases where there may be a partial hole or cutout that is used in assembly and could now be referenced as a datum.

Maximum Material Boundary

The Maximum Material Boundary (MMB) is a new term used in the 2009 standard and replaces the terms “Maximum Material Condition” and also “Virtual Condition Size” when referring to a datums referenced with the maximum material condition symbol.

In certain cases, MMB is the maximum material size while in other situations, it is the virtual condition size. It depends upon whether the datum is a primary, secondary or tertiary datum.

Let’s review the MMB for datum G in the above example.

If datum G was referenced as a primary datum, the MMB would be the MMC size of the hole which would be the smallest allowable size of the 12 mm hole which is 11.6 mm. It does not make any difference whether or not the feature actually has a virtual condition size as shown, the MMB is still 11.6 mm..

In our example, datum G is referenced at MMC as a secondary datum so the MMB is 12 – 0.4 – 0.2 = 11.4 mm which is the virtual condition size of the hole. If the secondary datum did not have a virtual condition size, it would default to its maximum material condition size of 11.6.

Datum H Reviewed 

If datum H was referenced as a primary datum, the MMB would be its maximum material condition size or smallest allowable size – 8.6 mm.

If datum H was referenced as a secondary datum, the MMB would be its virtual condition size but, in our situation, we have two (2) virtual condition sizes.

The positional tolerance shown would give us a virtual condition diametrical tolerance zone size of 9 – 0.4 (MMC) – 0.3 (perpendicularity) = 8.3 mm.

We also have a refinement of the positional tolerance with a perpendicularity requirement. In this situation, we have a virtual condition size of 9 – 0.4 (MMC) – 0.2 (perpendicularity) = 8.4 mm.

So, if datum H was referenced as a secondary datum, one would use the perpendicularity refinement resulting in a MMB of  9 – 0.4 – 0.2 (perpendicularity) = 8.4 mm.


In our situation, datum H is a tertiary datum and only used for orienting (anti-rotation) the part about datum G so that we are able to confirm all the dimensions. In our situation, we will use the MMB of 9 – 0.4 – 0.3 (positional) = 8.3 mm which includes the positional tolerances rather than its refinement of a perpendicular tolerance.
Here we have 4 holes of 8 +/- 0.3 mm. The feature control frame reflects a positional tolerance of a diametrical tolerance zone of 0.25 mm beyond the MMC referencing primary datum A (usually the mounting surface), secondary datum G at MMC (12 mm hole) and tertiary datum H also at MMC (9 mm hole).

We have already discussed that fact that the MMB changes depending upon whether it is a primary, secondary or tertiary datum. If there is any doubt about the MMB, one can reflect the actual MMB size in the feature control frame as shown above using brackets about the MMB size. This method can also be used if MMB size differs from the calculated size.

Let’s say we wanted the MMB size of datum H to be its refinement size of 8.4. One would then replace the 8.3 in the feature control frame with the refined size of 8.4 and that superseded the calculated MMB size.

For further details, please see the full article at Datums 2009.

Author: fcsuper

As a drafter, mechanical designer and CAD engineer, I've been in the mechanical design field since 1991. For the first 8 years of my career, I was an AutoCAD professional. I utilized AutoLISP and many other AutoCAD customization features to streamline drafting activities for 6+ drafters and designers. I authored several custom functions, one of which was published in the March 1997 issue of Cadalyst Magazine. Since 1998, I've been used SolidWorks non-stop. I've worked to utilize the SolidWorks' user environment to simplify drafting and design activities for 20+ engineers. I've created this website to provide current information about SolidWorks from a variety of contributors. More recently, I am now employed by Dassault Systemes as SOLIDWORKS Sr. Product Definition Manager to improve drawing, annotation and MBD related areas.

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