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Interface Load Cells Help Build World’s Largest Digital Camera

LSST Mirror being finished at SOML
SOML Polishing Device using Interface Model SSB Load Cells
Close up of the Interface Model SSB
An Interface Load Cell being tested in a U of A lab

On Thursday, January 29th, a small group from our Sales & Marketing team made the short drive down Interstate 10 to the Steward Observatory Mirror Lab and the College of Optical Sciences at the University of Arizona in Tucson. We were able to see first-hand the progress of the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) mirrors buit to survey our universe and night sky like never before. The construction of the GMT is anticipated to be completed in 2021. Calling this telescope large doesn’t do it justice. Inside is the world’s largest digital camera that is equivalent to the size of a VW Beetle. 

To help the GMT produce high quality images of our night sky will be a triple-mirror design being cast and polished at the Steward Observatory Mirror Lab (SOML), soon to be renamed the Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab. The University of Arizona is renaming the Mirror Lab to honor Interface’s founder and chairman for supplying its load cells and for giving a $20 million donation to help push the $60 million project towards completion. The first mirror was completed in 2012, with the second and third mirrors currently under construction. The fourth mirror will be formed in late March.

Interface load cells are integral in the making of these highly accurate mirrors. Our load cells have four major applications throughout the process:

  • Standing up the mirror
  • Polishing
  • Final testing and adjustments
  • Final weighing


According to Jeffrey Kingsley, Associate Director Department of Astronomy and Steward Observatory, “Interface load cells are the heart and soul of what we do at the mirror lab.  We use them like water.”

Bringing together the engineering expertise of SOML and the right equipment from Interface to build the GMT, we come closer to learning how our life and galaxy came to exist. 

About Interface

Interface has been the trusted world leader in force measurement for half a century. We lead by designing, manufacturing, and guaranteeing the highest performance and most accurate products available for the aerospace, medical, automotive and other industries.