An Introduction to NIST Certification

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is an agency that exists to manage and regulate weights and measures standards. They are committed to enhancing consumer confidence by promoting a uniform set of regulations and standards in the weights and measuring industries. Basically, they create a baseline to ensure “accuracy” in the industry. When products can meet these standards, it allows for fair competition in the marketplace both in the U.S. and overseas, benefiting consumers and the economy.

There are many groups and offices that contribute to creating and maintaining the rules and regulations that set the standard for the industry. The NCWM (National Conference on Weights and Measures) is a group made up of State and local W&M officials that collaborate with the Office of Weights and Measures (OWM) and other representatives of the industry to determine uniform laws, methods of practice, and regulations. Together, these embody the U.S. standards in reference to the weight and measure industry. Without the OWM, scales and measuring devices would be more of an estimate. They are important because they set the industry standard.

What does NIST do?

NIST has several missions. First, to provide certified standard reference materials (SRM), which are used to prove accuracy of instruments, calibrate, and encourage new methods of measurements. When applicable, NIST includes a Certificate of Analysis and Material Safety Sheet with their SRM’s.

Products commonly certified by NIST are clocks, light meters, anemometers, thermometers, tachometers, calibration weights, pressure gages, and digital scales. If a product measures something, it has a standard that NIST can measure against. To obtain certification by NIST, the product must be tested against an SRM and meet requirements and standards for that product. The SRM determines if the product is working within the limits as set by NIST. It should be noted that the NIST certification does expire, and the product must be tested again for recertification.

Types of NIST Certificates:

NIST Traceable Certificate: The product tested was not tested with a NIST SRM, but against a product that was already tested against an SRM. (For instance, a digital scale is compared to a NIST Certified digital scale, and deemed compliant with that scale’s standards).

NIST Certificate of Calibration: The product tested was approved on a level of accuracy.

NIST Certificate of Compliance: Products are tested and pass certification with a specific level of tolerance, and cannot be adjusted. This certification is typical for products like glass tube thermometers or hydrometers.

Is NIST Certification necessary?

It depends on the products you are using and the industry in which they are used. If a specific level of accuracy is necessary, it may be in the best interest to use an NIST certified product. Products with NIST certification can cost significantly more than the same product without a certification, so it really just depends on the specific goal of the user. Some industries require NIST certified products to be used, and that can factor into a consumer’s decision as well. carries a wide variety of NIST Certified weighing equipment. If you have any questions regarding NIST certified scale products including proof of certification, selection, or delivery, please contact us right away!

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