Identical components that can substitute one for another, particularly important in manufacturing. Mass production, which transformed the organization of work, came about by the development of the machine-tool industry by a series of 19th-century innovators. With precision equipment, large numbers of identical parts could be produced at low cost and with a small workforce. See also American System of manufacture; armoury practice; automobile industry; factory; Henry Ford; Henry Leland.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.For the full entry on interchangeable parts, visit Britannica.com.
What made you look up interchangeable parts? Please tell us what you were reading, watching or discussing that led you here.
Take Our 10-Question Quiz
The commonly misspelled words quiz
A quick quiz about stuff worth knowing
How strong is your vocabulary?
The Vocab Quiz Game for iPhone & iPad
"Incredibly fun and addictive. And informative!" User Review, iTunes