Faster, Better, Cheaper: New Automated Vacuum Calibration Service at NIST
Jacob E. Ricker, Jay H. Hendricks, Douglas A. Olson, Gregory F. Strouse
In todays fast-paced world and ever expanding quality assurance requirements, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has developed a system to fill the need for faster, better, and cheaper low pressure calibrations (0.65 Pa to 130 kPa). This has been achieved by using the advantages of an automated calibration system. This new system has resulted in reduced turnaround time (faster), lower costs for customers and NIST (cheaper), and provides broader access to direct traceability from NIST standards (better). The enabling technology is a combination of commercially available computer controlled systems (flow meters, throttling gate valves, etc.), a NIST developed high-accuracy transfer standard, and intelligent software allowing all the parts to work together as an automated calibration system. While this article is specific to vacuum calibrations, the concept of automating calibration service delivery is a general concept that can be used by other metrology labs to enable delivery of faster, better and cheaper calibration services.