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In which case would one be more appropriate than the other?

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Related: japanese.stackexchange.com/questions/1733/…. –  Ataraxia Oct 5 '13 at 14:23
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up vote 5 down vote accepted

This can be checked in a dictionary:

「工作機械」「包装機械」のように、動力を用いて操作する装置(マシン)を「機械」、「測定器械」「光学器械」のように、人間が直接動かし、比較的小型で小規模な装置や道具(インストルメント)を「器械」と使い分けることが多い。

To summarize, 機械 is usually used for machines which make use of some motive force (like an electrical motor), 器械 is usually used for devices which are operated by humans directly (via a crank/handle, for example).

機械

機械

器械

器械

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Do you think maybe we should add 器具 for archival? –  Daniel Safari Oct 5 '13 at 13:47
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