Cubic centimeters

A cubic centimeter (cm3 or cc) is a measurement of volume. It is a derived unit of the International System of Units (SI). 1 cubic centimeter is equal to the volume of a cube with edges that measure 1 cm each.



Since the volume of a cube is calculated as length × width × height, the volume of the cube is 1 cm3. The above cube can be referred to as a unit cube, where the unit in this case is the centimeter. One way to visualize volume is through use of unit cubes. For example, there are 16 unit cubes in the figure below. Since each cube has a volume of 1 cm3, the volume of the object measures 16 cm3.



In this manner, the volume of an object can be estimated as the number of unit cubes that fit within the object. In the above example, since the rectangular prism can be broken down into whole numbers of unit cubes, its volume can be calculated exactly. In cases where this is not possible, volume can be estimated using a combination of whole and partial unit cubes. Also, there are numerous formulas (such as length × width × height) that can be used to measure the volumes of various shapes.

Units of volume

A cubic centimeter is just one of many different units of volume. Common units of volume include milliliters, liters, cubic inches, gallons, and many more. The unit of volume used depends on the region as well as the application. For example, cubic centimeters are mostly used in the US in cases where most other parts of the world would use milliliters or some other measurement. Even in the US, cubic centimeters are not widely used outside of the medical (measuring dosages) and automotive (engine capacity) fields. As such, it is important to be able to convert between various units of volume. Below is a list of some commonly used units of volume and their measures relative to cubic centimeters.

Example

Convert 346 cm3 to in3.

There are 16.387 cm3 in 1 in3, so dividing 346 by 16.387 will yield the volume in in3.

346 ÷ 16.387 = 21.114 in3

Cubic centimeters vs milliliters

Cubic centimeters and milliliters are identical units of measurement; they represent the same exact volume, meaning that 20 cm3 = 20 mL. They are both SI derived units of volume, but milliliters are used more frequently than cubic centimeters.

In some cases, the distinction between when to use cubic centimeters or milliliters is made based on whether or not the volume being measured is a solid; solid objects are measured using cubic centimeters while liquids (or gases) would be measured using milliliters. However, this distinction is only sometimes made, and it is not incorrect to use either measurement regardless of the state of the object being measured.

Further confusion may arise when comparing cubic centimeters, milliliters, and grams. In the past, the gram was defined as "the absolute weight of a volume of pure water equal to the cube of the hundredth part of a metre, and at the temperature of melting ice." Based on this definition, cubic centimeters, milliliters, and grams were all equivalent. However, since mass is affected by temperature and pressure, in most everyday cases, 1 gram of water will likely be close but not exactly equal to 1 cc or 1 mL.