Differences between NIST and Factory Calibration

NIST Calibration and Factory Calibration both refer to the process of measuring and adjusting a device to ensure its accuracy and precision. However, there are some key differences between the two and will depend on the intended use of the device, the required level of accuracy and traceability, and budget constraints.

  1. Source of Calibration: NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) calibration is performed by a third-party laboratory that is accredited by NIST, while factory calibration is performed by the manufacturer of the device at the time of production. Some manufacturers also offer calibration services after the product has been in service. If you need a factory calibration certificate, please check the datasheet first before ordering, as it may give you a modified orderable part number which would include the required certificate.
  1. Level of Traceability: NIST calibration provides a higher level of traceability as it is performed using standards that are traceable to national or international standards. Factory calibration, on the other hand, may not be as traceable as it may not use standards that are traceable to national or international standards.
  1. Documentation: NIST calibration typically provides a detailed calibration certificate that documents the device’s performance and the standards used during the calibration process. Factory calibration may provide a simpler certificate of calibration that documents the device’s performance, but may not provide the same level of detail.
  1. Cost: NIST calibration can be more expensive than factory calibration due to the need for a third-party laboratory, the use of high-quality standards, and the level of documentation provided.
  1. Turnaround Time: NIST calibration can take longer than factory calibration due to the need for shipping the device to a third-party laboratory, the need to perform multiple tests, and the level of documentation provided.

If you are in need of a certificate, you will want to know this at the time of order so the certificate can be supplied with the item directly from the manufacturer. This may result in an additional charge and lead time for the item depending on if the item is stocking. If you already have a tool or meter that needs calibration, you will need to send that to the manufacturer of the product or an independent certified calibration service such as NIST.

DigiKey cannot retroactively provide certificates on used products, and we do not offer calibration services other than what can be offered at the time of order through what the manufacturer or NIST are able to provide. If there is a product that we don’t normally carry but you know the full manufacturer part number and is something you’d like to order, please fill out our Special Order Product Request Form.

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