Measurement Process Characterization
2.3.1. Issues in calibration
|Primary reference standards||
A reference standard for a unit of measurement is an artifact that
embodies the quantity of interest in a way that ties its value to the
At the highest level, a primary reference standard is assigned a value by direct comparison with the reference base. Mass is the only unit of measurement that is defined by an artifact. The kilogram is defined as the mass of a platinum-iridium kilogram that is maintained by the Bureau International des Poids et Mesures in Sevres, France.
Primary reference standards for other units come from realizations of the units embodied in artifact standards. For example, the reference base for length is the meter which is defined as the length of the path by light in vacuum during a time interval of 1/299,792,458 of a second.
|Secondary reference standards||
Secondary reference standards are calibrated by comparing with primary
standards using a high precision comparator and making appropriate
corrections for non-ideal conditions of measurement.
Secondary reference standards for mass are stainless steel kilograms, which are calibrated by comparing with a primary standard on a high precision balance and correcting for the buoyancy of air. In turn these weights become the reference standards for assigning values to test weights.
Secondary reference standards for length are gage blocks, which are calibrated by comparing with primary gage block standards on a mechanical comparator and correcting for temperature. In turn, these gage blocks become the reference standards for assigning values to test sets of gage blocks.