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Tool validation vs. tool calibration

Often times, “tool validation” and “tool calibration” are used interchangeably, but should they be? What are the differences between the two? Let’s try and clear some of the confusion around these terms.

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Tool validation

One definition of validation reads: The testing process used to verify and prove that the item works to factory specifications. 

Validation is used to only validate the expected results are within factory specifications. Furthermore, validation is used for all air tools or DC tools that do not have a calibration value that can be adjusted, such as:

  • Air tools
  • DC tools without a transducer

In examining this definition, the quality assurance process that comes to mind would surely be a Cm/Cmk test or an SPC. These processes provide the statistical tools necessary to check the accuracy of a tool and to see how its performance changes with time.

Tool calibration

What about calibration? It’s defined as: In measurement technology and metrology, calibration is the comparison of measurement values delivered by a device under test with those of a calibration standard of known accuracy.

There’s one term here that is the key to understanding the difference with validation: comparison. In this case, calibration is the standard used to benchmark each of the readings users glean from our tool.

Comparison is key

The difference here is clear. We are not using statistical tools to check the accuracy. Instead, the process involves doing a straight numerical comparison to see if and how much a tool is off.

This comparison can also give use valuable information to adjust a tool. For an electric tool, this means that we can adjust its calibration value to correct its readings.

Usually tool manufactures suggest to calibrate their tools at least one a year. This is a suggestion as the calibration frequency depends on multiple factors, like how often a tools is used or how critical the application is.

Want to learn more about what Atlas Copco can do for you? Questions about tool calibration or tool validation? Contact us today for a demonstration.