Temperature Measurement

Master Temperature Calibrators: Precision Tools for Accurate Temperature Instrument Calibration

  • Temperature instrument calibration is essential for maintaining the accuracy and reliability of temperature measurements across various industries and applications. 
  • Master temperature calibrators play a crucial role in ensuring precise calibrations, tailored to specific temperature ranges and requirements.
  • This comprehensive guide explores the different types of master temperature calibrators, their principles of operation, advantages, limitations, applications, and top manufacturers.
Master Temperature Calibrators: Precision Tools for Accurate Temperature Instrument Calibration
Dry Block Calibrators
  • Dry block calibrators are widely used for calibrating temperature sensors, probes, thermocouples, and other temperature measuring devices. 
  • They operate by heating or cooling a metal block to a set temperature, providing a stable reference point for calibration.

Dry block calibrators offer several benefits, making them popular tools for calibrating temperature sensors and probes.

  1. High Accuracy: Achieving precise measurements is vital in many industries, and dry block calibrators excel in providing accuracy, typically within ±0.1°C or better.
  2. Versatility: From extreme cold to scorching heat, dry block calibrators can handle a wide temperature range, making them adaptable to various calibration needs.
  3. Speed: Dry block calibrators streamline the calibration process with their relatively fast operation, reducing downtime and boosting productivity.
  4. Portability: Whether in the field or the lab, the portability of many dry block calibrators enables convenient on-site calibration in diverse environments.
  5. Ease of Use:Dry block calibrators are user-friendly instruments that let personnel perform calibration procedures more quickly and efficiently. They include simple controls and intuitive interfaces.

While advantageous, dry block calibrators also come with their set of limitations and challenges.

  1. Limited Capacity: Despite their utility, dry block calibrators may have restrictions concerning the number of probes or sensors they can calibrate simultaneously, potentially prolonging calibration processes.
  2. Warm-up Time: Heating or cooling the metal block to the desired temperature requires a certain amount of time, impacting calibration efficiency and potentially causing delays.
  3. Environmental Factors: The performance of dry block calibrators can be influenced by changes in ambient temperature, necessitating measures to control the environment during calibration procedures.

Dry block calibrators find wide-ranging applications across various industries where precise temperature measurements are crucial.

  • Industrial Temperature Sensors
  • Thermocouples
  • RTDs (Resistance Temperature Detectors)
  • Thermistors
  • Temperature Transmitters

Several manufacturers produce dry block calibrators, each offering a range of models tailored to different calibration requirements.

Here are some of the top manufacturers and popular models of dry block calibrators:

  • 9190A Field Metrology Well
  • 9118A Compact Highly Accurate Field Dry-Well
  • 9103 Portable Dry-Well
  • 9144 Series Field Dry-Well
  • Isocal-6 Venus
  • Isocal-6 Venus Plus
  • Isocal-4 Inferno
  • Isocal-4 Calisto
  • 156 Series Low-Cost Dry Block Calibrator
  • 162 Series Dry Block Calibrator
  •  166 Series Dry Block Calibrator
  •   Jofra RTC Series Dry Block Calibrators
  •   Jofra ATC Series Advanced Temperature Calibrators
  •   Jofra ITC Series Dry Block Temperature Calibrators
  •   FB Series Dry Block Calibrators
  •   MB Series Multifunction Dry Block Calibrators
  •   PBC Series Dry Block Calibrators
  •   PTC Series High-Temperature Dry Block Calibrators
  •   156 Series Low-Cost Dry Block Calibrator
  •   162 Series Dry Block Calibrator
  •   166 Series Dry Block Calibrator
  •    BetaTHERM Dry Block Calibrators
  •    BetaTHERM High-Temperature Dry Block Calibrators

These manufacturers offer dry block calibrators with varying temperature ranges, accuracies, and features to suit different industrial and laboratory applications. Some popular models like the Fluke 9190A, Isothermal Technology Isocal-6 Venus, and Ametek Jofra RTC series are widely used for their performance and reliability.

Liquid Bath Calibrators
  • Liquid bath calibrators utilize a thermostatically controlled liquid bath to provide stable and accurate temperatures for calibrating temperature sensors and probes. 
  • The sensor under test is immersed in the bath, where it reaches thermal equilibrium with the surrounding liquid.

Liquid bath calibrators offer several advantages, making them reliable tools for calibrating temperature sensors and probes.

  1. Excellent Stability: These calibrators provide exceptional temperature stability, ensuring precise and reliable calibration results crucial for accurate measurements.
  2. Uniformity: The temperature distribution within the liquid bath is highly uniform, guaranteeing consistent calibration across multiple sensors or probes.
  3. Wide Temperature Range: With the ability to cover a broad temperature range, from cryogenic temperatures to elevated temperatures exceeding 300°C, liquid bath calibrators accommodate diverse calibration needs.
  4. Versatility: Liquid bath calibrators are suitable for calibrating various types of temperature sensors, including RTDs, thermocouples, and thermistors, enhancing their versatility in different applications.
  5. Ease of Use: Operating liquid bath calibrators is straightforward, with simple controls for setting and maintaining the desired temperature, ensuring ease of use for technicians.

Despite their advantages, liquid bath calibrators also present some challenges and limitations.

  1. Slow Response Time: Achieving thermal equilibrium within the liquid bath may take some time, leading to longer calibration durations compared to other calibration methods.
  2. Maintenance Requirements: Liquid bath calibrators require periodic maintenance, including fluid replacement and cleaning, to ensure optimal performance and accuracy over time.
  3. Space Requirements: These calibrators are typically larger and bulkier than dry block calibrators, necessitating more space in the calibration laboratory, which could be a constraint in some environments.

Liquid bath calibrators find applications across various industries where precise temperature measurements are essential, including:

  • RTDs (Resistance Temperature Detectors)
  • Thermocouples
  • Thermistors
  • Temperature Transmitters
  • Temperature Switches

Several manufacturers offer liquid bath calibrators, each with a range of models designed to meet different calibration requirements.

  • Fluke 7102/7103 Series Liquid Bath Calibrators
  • Fluke 9170/9140 Series Metrology Baths (with dry well option)
  • Fluke 6102/7103/7106/7109 Series Micro-Baths
  • WIKA CTD9100 Series Liquid Bath Calibrators
  • WIKA CTD9105 Portable Liquid Bath Calibrator
  • WIKA CTD9300 Series High-Temperature Liquid Bath Calibrators

Isotech:

  • Isotech Liquid Bath Calibrators, including the Model 650/750 Series and Model 18233 Blackbody Calibrator
  • Jofra RBC Series Compact Liquid Bath Calibrators
  • Jofra ATC Series Advanced Temperature Calibrators (Liquid Bath models)
  • PBC Series Liquid Bath Calibrators
  • PTC Series High-Temperature Liquid Bath Calibrators
  • HighTec Liquid Bath Calibrators
  • PRESTO Liquid Bath Calibrators
Blackbody Calibrators
  • Blackbody calibrators are specialized instruments designed to provide a highly stable and uniform radiative temperature source for calibrating infrared thermometers and thermal imaging cameras. 
  • They operate based on the principle of thermal radiation from a heated surface. 
  • The blackbody surface is designed to absorb and emit electromagnetic radiation with high efficiency, closely approximating the behavior of an ideal blackbody radiator. 
  • By controlling the temperature of the blackbody surface, the calibrator can provide a known and stable source of thermal radiation for calibrating infrared sensors and instruments.

Blackbody calibrators are highly specialized instruments with unique advantages tailored for specific calibration needs.

  1. High Stability: Offering exceptional temperature stability, blackbody calibrators ensure precise calibration of infrared thermometers and thermal imagers, crucial for accurate temperature measurements.
  2. Uniformity: The temperature distribution across the blackbody surface is highly uniform, providing consistent calibration results across the entire field of view of the calibrated device.
  3. Wide Temperature Range: With the capability to cover a broad temperature range, from ambient temperatures to elevated temperatures exceeding 1000°C, blackbody calibrators accommodate diverse calibration requirements.
  4. Traceability: Blackbody calibrators provide traceability to international temperature standards, guaranteeing the accuracy and reliability of calibration results, essential for quality assurance and compliance purposes.
  5. Ease of Use: Featuring user-friendly controls for setting the desired temperature and monitoring calibration parameters, blackbody calibrators streamline the calibration process, enhancing operational efficiency.

Despite their advantages, blackbody calibrators have certain limitations and considerations.

  1. Specialized Application: Designed specifically for calibrating infrared thermometers and thermal imagers, blackbody calibrators may lack the versatility of other temperature calibrators, restricting their utility to specific instruments.
  2. Cost: High-quality blackbody calibrators can be expensive investments, potentially limiting accessibility for some calibration laboratories or organizations with budget constraints.
  3. Space Requirements: Due to their size and design, blackbody calibrators typically occupy more space in the calibration laboratory compared to other types of temperature calibrators, necessitating adequate room for installation and operation.

Blackbody calibrators find essential applications in various industries where accurate temperature measurements are critical, including:

  • Infrared Thermometers
  • Thermal Imaging Cameras
  • Infrared Pyrometers
  • Radiometric Sensors

Several manufacturers offer blackbody calibrators, each providing a range of models to suit different calibration requirements.

  • Fluke 4180/4181 Precision Infrared Calibrators
  • WIKA CTD9100 Series Blackbody Calibrators
  • WIKA CTD9105 Portable Blackbody Calibrator
  • Isotech Blackbody Calibrators, including the Model 941/942/944 Series and Model 18233 Blackbody Calibrator
Furnace Type Calibrators
  • Furnace calibrators utilize a heated chamber or tube to achieve and maintain high temperatures required for calibrating temperature sensors. 
  • Sensors under calibration are inserted into the chamber, where they reach thermal equilibrium with the controlled environment, allowing for precise temperature measurements at elevated temperatures.
  1. High-Temperature Capability: Furnace calibrators can operate at temperatures exceeding 1200°C (2192°F), making them suitable for calibrating thermocouple sensors and other high-temperature devices.
  2. Precise Calibration: With precise temperature control within the heated chamber, furnace calibrators offer accurate calibration results, ensuring the reliability of temperature measurements in high-temperature environments.
  3. Versatility: They can calibrate a wide range of temperature sensors, including thermocouples, RTDs, and thermistors, providing flexibility for various industrial applications.
  4. Uniformity: Furnace calibrators often feature uniform temperature distribution within the chamber, ensuring consistent calibration results across different sensor positions.
  1. Complexity: Operating and maintaining furnace calibrators can be more complex compared to other types of temperature calibrators, requiring specialized knowledge and training.
  2. Slow Response Time: Achieving and stabilizing high temperatures within the chamber may take some time, leading to longer calibration durations compared to calibrators operating at lower temperatures.
  3. Space Requirements: Furnace calibrators are typically larger and bulkier than other types of temperature calibrators, requiring ample space in the calibration laboratory.

Furnace calibrators find essential applications in industries where precise temperature control and calibration at high temperatures are critical:

  • Metallurgy
  • Ceramics
  • Heat treatment processes

One of the top manufacturers of furnace calibrators is:

Additel: Additel offers a range of high-quality calibration furnaces  designed for precise temperature calibration and control in various industrial applications. Their products are known for their reliability, accuracy, and durability, making Additel trusted name in furnace calibration technology.

Multifunction Calibrators
  • Multifunction calibrators are versatile instruments designed to calibrate not only temperature sensors but also a variety of other process instrumentation, including pressure, electrical, and frequency signals.
  • These calibrators incorporate multiple calibration sources, such as dry-block calibrators, liquid baths, or thermocouple simulators, within a single unit. This allows them to cater to the calibration needs of different types of instruments.
  • Convenience: With the ability to calibrate multiple types of instruments, multifunction calibrators offer convenience and flexibility, reducing the need for multiple calibration devices in the laboratory or facility.
  • Versatility: They can calibrate a wide range of instruments, including temperature sensors, pressure transducers, electrical meters, and frequency devices, providing comprehensive calibration capabilities in a single instrument.
  • Efficiency: Multifunction calibrators streamline the calibration process by consolidating multiple calibration functions into one device, saving time and effort for technicians.
  • Accuracy: These calibrators are designed to provide precise and reliable calibration across different types of instruments, ensuring the accuracy of measurement readings.
  1. Complexity: Operating multifunction calibrators may require additional training and expertise due to their diverse functionality and control interfaces.
  2. Cost: High-quality multifunction calibrators can be expensive investments, particularly for facilities with budget constraints or limited calibration needs.
  3. Maintenance: The complexity of multifunction calibrators may also entail more extensive maintenance requirements, including regular calibration checks and servicing to maintain optimal performance.

Multifunction calibrators find applications in various industries and facilities that require calibration capabilities for different types of instruments, including:

  • Calibration Laboratories
  • Manufacturing plants
  • Testing facilities
  • Maintenance departments

Some top manufacturers of multifunction calibrators include:

  • Fluke Corporation: Fluke offers a range of multifunction calibrators known for their reliability, accuracy, and versatility.
  • Keysight Technologies: Keysight provides multifunction calibrators designed for precision calibration of electronic and electrical instruments.
  • Beamex: Beamex offers multifunction calibrators with advanced features for comprehensive calibration of various instruments, ensuring accurate and reliable measurements.

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Sundareswaran Iyalunaidu

With over 24 years of dedicated experience, I am a seasoned professional specializing in the commissioning, maintenance, and installation of Electrical, Instrumentation and Control systems. My expertise extends across a spectrum of industries, including Power stations, Oil and Gas, Aluminium, Utilities, Steel and Continuous process industries. Tweet me @sundareshinfohe

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