Load Cell Stiffness 101

Load cell stiffness refers to the ability of a load cell to resist deformation when a load is applied to it. It is a measure of how much a load cell will deflect or bend under a given load. Stiffness is an important specification of load cells, as it affects their accuracy and sensitivity.

Load cell stiffness is typically conveyed as the ratio of the load applied to the deflection of the load cell. For example, if a load cell deflects 1mm when a load of 100N is applied, its stiffness would be 100N/mm.

The selection of a load cell with an appropriate stiffness is critical to ensuring optimal performance in each application and should be carefully considered in the design and implementation of any measurement system. Load cell stiffness can significantly alter the performance.

High stiffness load cells are preferred in applications where high accuracy and precision are required, as they provide greater resistance to deformation and are less susceptible to measurement errors. High stiffness provides more precise and consistent measurements. They are the preferred choice for many applications, including in aerospace, robotics, material testing and of course calibration and metrology.

Low stiffness load cells may be used in applications where flexibility and compliance are necessary, such as in weighing systems that must accommodate vibration or movement. Load cells with low stiffness may be more suitable for applications where flexibility and compliance are important, such as in dynamic force measurement or shock testing.

The determination of load cell stiffness requires consideration of several key factors, including:

  • Load capacity of the load cell should be considered when determining its stiffness. Load cells with higher load capacities typically require greater stiffness to maintain their accuracy and precision under load.
  • Sensitivity of the load cell, or the amount of output change per unit of input change, should also be considered. Load cells with higher sensitivities may require greater stiffness to maintain their accuracy, as they are more sensitive to changes in the applied load. Read more in Load Cell Sensitivity 101
  • Environmental conditions in which the load cell will be used should also be considered, such as temperature, humidity, and vibration. In some cases, load cells with lower stiffness may be necessary to accommodate for environmental factors such as thermal expansion.
  • Application requirements specific to the use case, such as the required measurement range, accuracy, and resolution, will define the success of our project or program. Load cells with higher stiffness may be necessary for applications requiring high accuracy and precision, while load cells with lower stiffness may be more suitable for applications requiring greater flexibility and compliance.
  • Natural frequency, which is the frequency at which it oscillates when subjected to an external force is a consideration. Load cells with high stiffness have a higher natural frequency, which allows them to respond more quickly to changes in the applied force, resulting in faster and more accurate measurements.

Load cell design plays a critical role in controlling load cell stiffness. There are several key design factors that can affect the stiffness of a load cell, include material selection, geometry, strain gage placement and mechanical configuration. Read Get an Inside Look at Interface’s Famously Blue Load Cells to review our precision design features.

The choice of materials used in the load cell construction can have a significant impact on its stiffness. Load cells made from materials with higher Young’s modulus, such as stainless steel, are stiffer than load cells made from materials with lower Young’s modulus, such as aluminum.

Load cells with thicker walls, larger cross-sectional areas, and shorter lengths are stiffer than load cells with thinner walls, smaller cross-sectional areas, and longer lengths.

Strain gages placed closer to the neutral axis of the load cell will experience less strain and deformation, resulting in a stiffer load cell.

The mechanical configuration of the load cell, including the number and arrangement of its sensing elements, can also affect its stiffness. Load cells with more sensing elements arranged in a parallel or series configuration can be designed to be stiffer than load cells with fewer sensing elements.

Load cell design plays a critical role in controlling load cell stiffness to ensure that it meets the stiffness requirements of the application. If you have questions about the load cell that best fits your application, please contact us. Our experts are here to help.


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