Article | December 2, 2013

NIST Traceability: A Calibrated $2 Thermometer Is Still A $2 Thermometer

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By Jim Tennerman, North American Life Science segment manager, Vaisala Oyj

Everyone in the quality profession has heard the term “NIST traceable.” Having calibration traceability to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is desirable for most measurement devices. It is also enshrined as a requirement in some regulatory documents. Unfortunately, NIST traceability does not ensure measurement quality. Here’s why...

National Institute of Standards & Technology (US)
NIST, a U.S. government organization based in Maryland, is the official keeper of the flame for the highest level of measurement accuracy. If you want to know how good your thermometer is, you can send it to NIST, and it will compare it to the very best temperature standards (“calibration” is simply the comparison of one device to another) and send it back with a report. Of course this isn’t practical; NIST cannot calibrate the millions of thermometers that are in daily use, and the service is expensive.

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