Difference between Calibration, Testing and Validation

Testing and Validation
Testing and Validation


Calibration is a documented comparison of a measuring device that needs to be calibrated against a traceable reference standard or an apparatus.

Testing is an activity to verify whether the actual results match the expected results. Testing and validation are the core processes that enable manufacturers to successfully integrate changes into components, systems, and functions. 

The reference standard can be referred to as the “calibrator.” Logically, the reference standard should be more accurate than the device that needs to be calibrated. The reference standard should also be calibrated traceably. A true calibration usually contains both “as found” and “as left” data. 

Normally the calibration does not include adjustment or trimming, although in common lingo it is often included. The calibration process compares a known (a standard) against an unknown (usually a customer’s device). During the calibration process, the offset between these two devices is quantified and the customer’s device is adjusted/set back into tolerance (if possible).

The difference between calibration and testing can be understood as a process wherein calibration is the performance of tolerance testing and adjustments to measuring equipment or standards. While testing is the performance of tests on certain materials to make sure they meet specifications.

Measurement Uncertainty is a parameter, associated with the result of a measurement that characterizes the dispersion of the values that could reasonably be attributed to the measurand. (International Vocabulary of Basic and General Terms in Metrology) 

Uncertainty means the range of possible values within which the true value of the measurement lies. This definition changes the usage of some other commonly used terms. For example, the term accuracy is often used to mean the difference between a measured result and the actual or true value.

Calibration – a set of operations that establish, under specified conditions, the relationship between values of quantities indicated by a measuring instrument or measuring system or values represented by a material measure or a reference material, and the corresponding values realized by the standard. 

Validation is the assurance that a product, service, or system meets the needs of the customer and other identified stakeholders. It often involves acceptance and suitability with external customers. This is the basic difference between calibration and validation.

In measurement technology and metrology, calibration is the comparison of a measured value that is delivered by a device under test with those of a calibration standard of known accuracy.


  1. The result of calibration permits either the assignment of values or measurands to the indications or the determination of corrections with respect to given indications. A measurand in the general sense refers to a physical quantity that was / will be subject to measurement.
  2. A calibration may also determine other metrological properties such as the effect of the influence of other quantities.
  3. The result of calibration can be recorded in a document sometimes called as the calibration certificate or a calibration report. (International Vocabulary of Basic and General Terms in Metrology)

Test – technical operation that consists of the determining one or more characteristics of a given product, process or service as per a specified procedure. Test is a procedure intended to establish the quality, performance, or reliability of a product/specimen/item, especially before it is taken into widespread use.

Inspection – evaluation for conformity by measuring, observing, testing or gauging the relevant characteristics, activity such as measuring, examining, testing or gauging one or more characteristics of an entity and comparing the results with specified requirements in order to establish whether conformity is achieved for each characteristic. 

Certification is a procedure by which a third party gives a written declaration regarding a product, process or service about its conformance to specified requirements. Certification can also be defined as the formal attestation or confirmation to certain characteristics by an object, product, or process.

This confirmation may be provided or in certain cases may not be provided by some form of external review, audit, education, or assessment.

While accreditation, is a specific organization’s process of certification. 

Verification is the process conformation by examining and provision of objective evidence that specified requirements have been fulfilled. Verification is the evaluation of whether or not a product, service, or system complies with a regulation, requirement, specification, or imposed condition. And it is usually an internal process. Contrast with validation

Testing and Validation

Validation – confirmation by examination and provision of objective evidence that the particular requirements for a specific intended use are fulfilled. The act of confirming something as true or correct is validation. Testing and validation are important criteria during any process. 

Validation and calibration difference – The primary difference between these two terms is how the two are documented. While calibration is the process of checking an apparatus’s accuracy in results, validation is more of a written proof that the equipment, process, or system provides a consistent outcome.

Verification and validation are independent procedures that are utilized in tandem to check if a product, service, procedure or system meets requirements and specifications. It should also fulfil its intended purpose. These are critical components of quality management such as ISO 9000

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