The dilatometer does only measure the displacement (=change in thickness), but not the total thickness. The initial displacement reading is arbitrary and can be changed by just turning the micrometer screw at the sensor head. In practice, you turn the micrometer screw so that the initial reading is in the range of zero +/- 20 µm. After the measurement, for convenience, you substract some offset value, so as to set the displacement value exactly to zero at that point in time, where you have started the electrochemical cycle.
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