The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is a standards laboratory that is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce. The NIST traceable calibration refers to a program that certifies that the equipment used by labs or manufacturing facilities is properly calibrated according to the industry standards in place.
What Is NIST Calibration?
This is a general term used to discuss a piece of equipment being compared, or calibrated to, an established standard that was put in place by NIST. If it matches these standards, then the device can become certified. If not, then the device must either be calibrated to function within the standards or not used in areas where NIST certification is required.
What Is NIST Traceability?
NIST traceability is a term that references the unbroken chain of comparisons that took place between one measurement device and the standards set by national or international calibration. Newly created devices are all calibrated at manufacturing, and the information for that device is registered into a NIST database.
Types of Equipment
There are many types of equipment that can get a NIST certification. In some cases, the certification is optional. For other items, getting the certification is required or at least highly recommended in order to remain in compliance with industry standards. Some examples of equipment that should be NIST certified are:
- A Glass Tube Thermometer - In many areas it is necessary to have a precise temperature taken. Having a thermometer that is calibrated properly can avoid problems.
- Sound Meters - Auditory pollution can cause long-term hearing loss to employees in the area. Having a sound meter that is NIST certified will protect the hearing of those in a facility.
- Precision Timers - Precision timers are needed for operating many types of machinery in manufacturing facilities.
Getting a NIST Certification
In order to get a NIST certificate (also known as a NIST traceability certificate) for a device, one must search the online database, which can be found here. The database contains all the certificates for all the devices that have basic calibration features and it can be searched by the serial number on the device itself.
Calibrating a Device
Most manufacturers are familiar with the concept of calibrating a device. Taking an existing device and making sure it is performing within the desired parameters is very important. What the NIST certification does is make sure the standards a device is calibrated to are in line with what the industry needs. If the standards aren't uniform, then calibration really doesn't do much to benefit the device or the users.
Many devices today can be sent back to the manufacturer for recalibration in the future. This is an effective way to ensure it remains within acceptable levels and that any needed calibration is done properly. This process will typically come with a fee, but it depends on the device itself and what company manufactured it.
Older devices that were not NIST traceable in the past can also be sent to a manufacturer to get calibrated and certified. Once calibrated, a device is entered into the database referenced above and can then be looked up at any point in the future.