Fluke Hart Scientific’s new Metrology Wells combine laboratory performance with field instrumentation


Every once in a while, a new product comes around that changes the rules. It happened when we introduced handheld dry-wells. It happened when we introduced Micro-Baths. Now we’ve combined bath-level performance with dry-well functionality and legitimate reference thermometry to create Fluke Calibration / Hart Scientific Metrology Wells.

With groundbreaking new electronics (patent pending) from Fluke Hart Scientific, Metrology Wells let you bring lab-quality performance into whatever field environment you might work in. New analog and digital control techniques provide stability as good as ±0.005 °C. And with dual-zone control, axial (or “vertical”) uniformity is as good as ±0.02 °C over a 60 mm zone. (That’s 60 mm!) Such performance doesn’t exist anywhere else outside of fluid baths.

In short, there are six critical components of performance in an industrial heat source (which the European metrology community explains, for example, in the document EA-10/13): calibrated display accuracy, stability, axial uniformity, radial (well-to-well) uniformity, impact from loading, and hysteresis. We added a seventh in the form of a legitimate reference thermometer input and created an entirely new product category: Metrology Wells.

(By the way, Metrology Wells are the only products on the market supported by published specifications addressing every performance category in the EA-10/13. Our specs aren’t just hopes or guidelines. They apply to every Metrology Well sold by Hart Scientific.)

Display Accuracy

Dry-wells are typically calibrated by inserting a calibrated PRT into one of the wells and making adjustments to the calibrator’s internal control sensor based on the readings from the PRT. This has limited value because the unique characteristics of the reference PRT, which essentially become “calibrated into” the calibrator, are often quite different from the thermometers tested by the calibrator. This is complicated by the presence of significant thermal gradients in the block and inadequate sensor immersion into blocks that are simply too short.

Metrology Wells are different. Temperature gradients, loading effects, and hysteris (see below) have been minimized to make the calibration of the display much more meaningful. We use only traceable, accredited PRTs to calibrate Metrology Wells and our proprietary electronics consistently demonstrate repeatable accuracy more than ten times better than our specs, which range from ±0.1 °C for the most commonly used temperatures to ±0.25 °C at 661 °C.

For even better accuracy, Metrology Wells may be ordered with built-in electronics for reading external PRTs with ITS-90 characterizations. The ability to accept ITS-90 characterizations not only improves complice to accepted standard but alos it minimizes referecne probe measurement errors.


Heat sources from Hart Scientific have long been known as the most stable heat sources in the world. It only gets better with Metrology Wells. Both low-temperature units (Models 9170 and 9171) are stable to ±0.005 °C over their full range. Even the 700 °C unit (Model 9173) achieves stability of ±0.03 °C. Better stability can only be found in fluid baths and primary fixed-point devices. The “off-the-shelf controllers” used by most dry-well manufacturers simply can’t provide this level of performance.

Axial Uniformity

The EA-10/13 document suggests that dry-wells should include a zone of maximum temperature homogeneity, which extends for 40 mm, usually at the bottom of a well. Metrology Wells, however, combine our unique electronics with dual-zone control and more well depth than is found in dry-wells to provide homogeneous zones ranging at 60 mm. Vertical gradients in these zones range from ±0.02 °C at 0 °C to ±0.5 °C at 700 °C.

What’s more, Metrology Wells actually publish these specifications for each unit and we stand by them. We’ll even be offering specially-constructed PRTs for testing axial uniformity (Model 5662 and 5663 to come in Q4 05).

Radial Uniformity

Radial uniformity is the difference in temperature between one well and another well. For poorly designed heat sources, or when large-diameter probes are used, these differences can be very large. For Metrology Wells, we define our specification as the largest temperature difference between the vertically homogeneous zones of any two wells that are each 6.4 mm (0.25″) in diameter or smaller. The cold units (9170 and 9171) provide radial uniformity of ±0.01 °C and the hot units (9172 and 9173) range from ±0.01 °C to ±0.03 °C.


Loading is defined as the change in temperature sensed by a reference thermometer inserted into the bottom of a well when the rest of the wells are filled with thermometers, too.

For Metrology Wells, loading effects are minimized for the same reasons that axial gradients are minimized. We use deeper wells than found in dry-wells. And we utilize proprietary dual-zone controls. Loading effects are as minimal as ±0.005 °C in the cold units.


Thermal hysteresis exists far more in internal control sensors than in good-quality reference PRTs. It is evidenced by differences in two external measurements of the same set-point temperature when that temperature was approached from two different directions (hotter or colder) and is usually largest at the midpoint of a heat source’s temperature range. It exists because control sensors are typically designed for ruggedness and do not have the “strain free” design characteristics of SPRTs, or even most PRTs. For Metrology Wells, hysteresis effects range from ±0.025 °C and ±0.04 °C.

Immersion Depth

Immersion depth matters. Not only does it help minimize axial gradient and loading effects, it helps address the unique immersion characteristics of each thermometer tested in the dry-well. Those characteristics include the location and size of the actual sensor within the probe, the width and thermal mass of the probe, and the lead wires used to connect the sensor to the outside world. Metrology Wells feature well depths of 203 mm (8″) in the Models 9171, 9172, and 9173. The Model 9170 is 160 mm (6.3″) deep to facilitate –45 °C.

Other Great Features

A large LCD display, numeric keypad, and on-screen menus make use of Metrology Wells simple and intuitive. The display shows the block temperature, built-in reference thermometer temperature, cutout temperature, stability criteria, and ramp rate. The user interface can be configured to display in English, French, or Chinese (note: to be implemented in Q3 05).

All four models come with an RS-232 serial interface and the Model 9930, Interface- it software. All are also compatible with the industry leading Model 9938 MET/TEMP II software for completely automated calibrations of RTDs, thermocouples, and thermistors.

Even without a PC, Metrology Wells have four different preprogrammed calibration tasks that allow up to ten temperature set points with “ramp and soak” times between each. There is an automated “switch test” protocol that zeros in on the “dead-band” for thermal switches. And a dedicated °C/°F button allows for easy switching of temperature units.

Any of six standard inserts may be ordered with each unit, accommodating a variety of metric- and imperial-sized probe diameters. And Metrology Wells are small enough and light enough to go anywhere.


The Model 9170 achieves the lowest temperatures of the series, reaching –45 °C in normal room conditions. The 9170 is stable to ±0.005 °C over its full temperature range (up to 140 °C) and has 160 mm (6.3″) of immersion depth. With axial uniformity of ±0.02 °C and radial uniformity of ±0.01 °C, this model delivers exceptional uncertainty budgets and is perfect for a variety of pharmaceutical and other applications.


If you need more depth, the Model 9171 provides 203 mm (8″) of immersion over temperatures from –30 °C all the way to 155 °C with full-range stability of ±0.005 °C. Just like the 9170, this Metrology Well has exceptional axial and radial uniformity. The display of the 9171 is calibrated to an accuracy of ±0.1 °C over its full range.


The Model 9172 provides temperatures from 35 °C to 425 °C with a calibrated display accurate to ±0.2 °C at 425 °C. In addition to exceptional accuracy, the 9172 is stable from ±0.005 °C to ±0.01 °C, depending on temperature. With 203 mm (8″) of immersion, the 9172 significantly reduces stem conduction errors at high-temperatures.


For work between 50 °C and 700 °C, the Model 9173 provides unmatched performance. The 9173 has a display accuracy of ±0.25 °C at 700 °C and an immersion depth of 203 mm (8″). Stability and uniformity performance of this unit are enough to dramatically reduce uncertainty budgets for calibrations of thermometers at high temperatures.

Of course, there’s still a place in the world for dry-wells or “dry block” calibrators. In fact, Hart makes and will continue to make some of the best performing, portable, fast dry-wells in the world. There’s still nothing better for a quick test of industrial temperature sensor performance.

We just can’t resist the urge, though, to keep coming up with breakthrough product designs that can dramatically impact the ways people work and the results they see from it. For the absolute best performance in a portable temperature source, Metrology Wells raise the standard to an entirely new level.

For more details on the Fluke Hart Scientific 9170 Series Dry Wells, Click Here or call Transcat at 800-828-1470.

Content was provided by Fluke Hart Scientific.
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