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Surface Plate Calibration - getting it done


Nov 17, 2017
Western PA
Hi - I have recently worked through the battle of figuring out how to get some surface plates calibrated as a small company. This site was a lot of help for me and I thought I would share my notes of what worked and what didn't work for us.
We are a small shop in Western PA, between Pittsburgh and Erie. We have had 1 black granite surface plate 18" x 24" rated at Grade B. We bought a grey granite 24"x36" plate used with no history and want it to be Grade A. I had known for a long time that I "should" get the 18"x24" plate certified and on a schedule but it was never a priority. All at once, I needed to get my hands on certified plate quickly. I was becoming dismayed as it seemed lower cost to buy new plates than to get these plates certified.
I know many local big shops (GE, Komatsu, etc) need their plates done, and they are on a schedule for a tradesman to come in to complete the calibration on site. Planning ahead and doing this is the best, but certainly works better if you have many plates that need done and not 1 or 2. I included in my efforts looking for someone I could take my plates too, being that mine are small and few.

Here is what I found:
DOX Calibration - I would rate this guy (Joe) hi on my list of respectable people. Surface plate could only be done on customer (my) site, he is based out of Cleveland, OH. His soonest availability is 2.5 months out. Quoted cost of $350 minimum / $450 maximum to inspect 2 plates and lap as needed. People I know who have him on schedule are pleased, but I was hoping to find something faster.
Optimal Calibration - Based out of Cleveland, OH. Great communication from them. They only perform work on customer site. Minimum costs would be $200 for travel and $500 for plates.
Platco - Based out of Cleveland, OH. This guy (Dick) was helpful and willing to do the plates at his location, but there would still be a $600 job minimum.
Certified Services Company - Based out of Medina, OH. They cover some of the big companies in the area and could complete inspection when in the area for them (July). Cost estimated at $500 - $550 for 2 plates.
....at this point I am starting to search outside of the region.....
Trescal - does not have service to Western PA or have options to have plates sent to them.
Dwight Calibration - Based out of Lyndhurst, NJ. Does not have service to Western PA or have options to have plates sent to them.
Micron Inspection and Calibration Services - Based out of York, PA. Used to do surface plates and would like to still do them but cannot find capable person to hire to perform them.
Master Gauge and Tool - Based out of Danville, VA. Subs surface plates out to other businesses but has struggled to find businesses for this lately.
Rock of Ages - Based out of Granitville, VT. Routinely receives surface plates sent in to them for certification. Quoted at $513/plate for inspection and $370/plate for lapping if needed.
Accu-Check - Based on of Cincinnati and Corydon, IN. Can perform inspection/lapping on site at their facility. Quoted at $75/plate for inspection with before/after results. $45/plate for inspection with after results only. $40 for lapping of 18"x24" plate. $105 for lapping of 24"x36" plate (Lapping only done if needed.) They have a 7-10 day turn around.

I was very pleased with Accu-Check's quoted price and lead time. I reinforced a pallet to hold and protect the 2 surface plates and had them freight delivered to Corydon, IN. (I double checked that mounting rubber was glued to the proper locations at the bottom of the plates). They should have recieved them 2 days ago. I am looking forward to all going well and receiving them back next week.
A good post. I recently went through a similar thing where I'm at on the East side of Detroit, Mi.

Historically we were using a company for our surface plate calibrations. A couple of things though: 1) It was hit and miss on the tech they sent. One year the guy would be good, then the next cycle it would be someone else that wasn't so good. 2) COST. All told, there was approx. $415 in the invoice relating to travel and time for the tech. Round trip was like 100 miles, and if it was a two day calibration event covering a bunch of plates those costs added up hard.

I did a little research similar to what you did and hit the jackpot. There's a place 15 minutes from us that can do the work, and we fall within the range they do NOT charge for travel. The guy they have is experienced and mature, he's in our shop at like 6am sharp (instead of 9am for the other place), gets right to work, communicates, and gets the job done.