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Exploring Aerospace Force Measurement Solutions

The aerospace industry is responsible for some of the greatest inventions and innovation in our global history. The engineering and manufacturing of a single rocket engine design, using handwritten calculations and with less computing power than a modern smartphone, took us to the moon.

The NASA Parker Solar Probe is the culmination of some of the most impressive technology ever developed by mankind, journeying through the skies and beyond earth’s atmosphere with the ability to reach a top speed of 430,000 miles per hour.

The aerospace industry is an assembly of researchers, design houses, test labs and manufacturing companies that engineer and build vehicles to travel within and beyond Earth’s atmosphere. The range of aircraft and space vehicles include all types from unpowered gliders to commercial and military aircraft, as well as rockets, missiles, launch vehicles, and spacecraft. The term aerospace comes from the combination of the words aeronautics and spaceflight. All of these vehicles go through extensive and rigorous test and measurement programs and processes.

For more than half a decade, Interface has served some of the most prominent www.interfaceforce.com/solutions/aerospace organizations in the nation including NASA, Boeing, Northrop Grumman and more. Our sensor technology has been used to design, test and manufacture airplane frames, wings, landing gear, rocket engines and even the machines that build the components for these products. These projects require the most precise data available, not only to ensure that the airplane or spaceship can fly and land, but more importantly to guarantee its safety for the pilot, crew and passengers.

Interface is humbled and proud to provide critical force measurement solutions and technology to the aerospace industry, in support of science, innovation and exploration.

Interface is often selected by our aerospace customers over the competition because we offer the most accurate and reliable force measurement products on the market. In this blog, we will be outlining how Interface serves the www.interfaceforce.com/solutions/aerospace in validating designs, improving performance and maintain the highest safety possible.

AIRCRAFT

One of the most important tests to run in aircraft development is static and fatigue testing on the frame of the aircraft and the wings. Engineers will often simulate the effects of various forces on the aircraft and wings with actuators which act as of wind, weather, debris and more. Hundreds of Interface load cells are used to measure those forces to either validate the simulations or find errors in order to adjust the simulation and design accordingly. Load cells are also used on the machines controlling these forces in the test environment to ensure the actuators are simulating the right amount of force.

READ THIS APP NOTE FOR AIRCRAFT WING FATIGUE TESTING

ROCKETS

For a spacecraft that can weigh up to 1,000 tons, you need a lot of force to get it off the ground and safely out of the earth’s atmosphere. One of the ways that engineers test the thrust force of a rocket engine is with load cells. During these tests, the engine is attached under the mounting plate, which is part of a test stand. Interface load cells are installed between the plate and test stand and when the rocket thrust pushes up on the plate, the load cells relay the force data to the engineers. These tests help engineers make adjustments to the engine to use the precise amount of force to lift the craft into space, but not too much so that it doesn’t burn up too much fuel.

READ THIS CASE STUDY: LAUNCHING INTO ORBIT WITH INTERFACE

AEROSPACE MANUFACTURING

Before the air and spacecrafts are even assembled, the components need to be manufactured in a plant. There are hundreds of machines that are used on the production line for the hundreds of thousands of components needed to complete the craft. Interface load cells and torque transducers can be found on many of these machines. Not only are they used to help test the machines, they are also used to measure various forces on the machines in real-time. Our products are used to provide a wealth of insight to tell the manufacturers if the machine is working properly, needs to be recalibrated or needs repairs.

READ THIS APP NOTE FOR ROCKET STRUCTURAL TESTING

For more information on the numerous applications of Interface products in the aerospace and space industry, visit our solutions page at www.interfaceforce.com/solutions/aerospace/. Here you can read application notes and browse the various products we offer for our customers.

To watch an actual aircraft structural, check out this great Airbus video of an actual test.

Contributor: Randy White, Regional Sales Director at Interface

Multi-Axis Sensor Applications

For more than 50 years, Interface has proven itself as the premier provider of load cells, with the most accurate and reliable products on the market. As the technical landscape has evolved, we have invested heavily in new technology to suit the growing needs of our customers. One of the most important innovations we’ve brought to market over the past few years is our lineup of wide-ranging multi-axis sensors.

Interface Multi-Axis Sensors are designed to measure a multitude of forces and moments simultaneously with a single load cell sensor. These sensors provide multiple bridges that precisely measure the applied force from one direction with minimal crosstalk from the other axes.

Multi Axis Sensor 3AXX 3 Axis Load Cells -

Interface Multi-Axis Sensor 3-Axis Load Cell

Interface offers 3-axis, 6-axis, and axial torsion load cells, which provide the ultimate in force and torque measurement. We can measure forces simultaneously in three mutually perpendicular axes, with the 6-axis load cells also measuring torque around those axes. In addition, we offer multiple data acquisition and amplifier systems which make graphing, logging and displaying data easy enough for any experience level.

Our customers work in a wide variety of industries, and we are continually seeing new applications of our range of multi-axis sensors. These sensors are used in aerospace, automotive, medical and more.

The following application examples provide a clearer picture of the benefit of this force measurement and sensor technology.

Rocket Structural Testing – In rocket and aerospace testing, there are a million different considerations to ensure a proper launch. One of the vital force tests that need to be conducted is on the connection between the rocket and the launch vehicle. There are force and moment in multiple directions at the connection point. Interface Multi-Axis Sensors can be used to test not only the strength of the connection but also ensure a safe disconnection between the rocket and launch vehicle.

Drone Testing – One of the most interesting applications of our multi-axis sensors is in the drone industry and in areas of urban mobility. Our sensors are used to test the drone’s rotor. The drone will always pull on the sensor to create the most significant force; however, there is also a slight amount of moment that needs to be accounted for. We were able to calibrate a semi-custom load cell to account for both the large pull force and the small moment force to provide the most accurate data possible.

Prosthetics – Another impressive application of our multi-axis sensor technology is in the medical industry. We helped to test the multiple force and torque data necessary to build a strong and reliable prosthetic knee joint and spine. Each of these prosthetics has multiple motions on many axes. To measure the quality of the prosthetic and to ensure it doesn’t fail when implanted in a patient, medical OEM’s need to be able to collect data on each of these axes simultaneously.

The need for measurements on multiple axes has grown over the last couple of years because of the desire to use big data to create better products. Interface Multi-Axis Sensors provide the accurate measurements our customers need and the ability to collect those measurements simultaneously, which has created a significant boost in efficiency.

To learn more about Interface’s expanding lineup of multi-axis sensors and data acquisition systems, please contact our team of experienced Application Engineers or visit /product-category/multi-axis-sensors/.

Contributor: Keith Skidmore, Regional Sales Director at Interface

Multi-Axis-Brochure

Taking Flight with Interface

When the aerospace industry needs a force measurement solution provider, they’ve turned to Interface for the past 50 years. There is no room for error when it comes to the hardware that keeps airplanes and helicopters safely airborne, and therefore Interface products are the easy choice for Fortune 500 and innovators in www.interfaceforce.com/solutions/aerospace from around the world.

Interface specializes in ground testing for aerospace vehicles. Our products are used in flight simulations, aircraft production, and structural, static and fatigue testing on fuselages and wings. We are the leader in moment and temperature compensation, and a unique differentiator of our load cells is their ability to accurately measure or isolate side loads.

The Interface force measurement standard, modified and custom products that we supply to the aerospace industry typically include:

  • LowProfile™ Load Cells
  • Mini Load Cells
  • Multi-Axis Sensors
  • Calibration Frames

The durability, reliability, performance, and accuracy of Interface load cells are what leads the market.  Unlike others, Interface’s load cells do not lose their accuracy over time. In fact, we just received a calibration order that included some of the very first load cells ever made by Interface. Simply said, our load cells are still on the production floor after 40 years of use.

Our load cells actually demonstrate improvements in performance the longer our customers have them.” – Ashish Desai, Director, Engineering and Technology, Interface

Our precision is the key to our success for aerospace, as well as all our industry solutions. To engineer high-precision load cells, we first start with the flexure. The flexure must be symmetrical, and a great deal of machining art goes into our symmetry process. We have strict control of the process, which also includes making our own strain gages. By maintaining tight control over all processes, Interface can better match the materials that go into the load cells, leading to higher performance.

Each Interface load cell is designed and manufactured at Interface corporate headquarters in Scottsdale, Arizona.  This single location benefit gives customers the added convenience of not needing to accommodate their designs to account for inaccuracies resulting from generic strain gages that are not made in the same place by the best in force measurement engineering and manufacturing.

Interface load cell features are important to the aerospace industry because not only does the longevity of our load cells save our customers money, our precision guarantees that measurements are accurate. One tiny inaccuracy in the measurement of airplane wing’s force capacity can cause critical failures and have devastating effects.

Interface also has all the necessary certifications for working with the aerospace industry including ISO17025, NCSL Z540 and ASTM E74. These standards of excellence demonstrate our ability to serve our customers to the highest degree, on the ground and for taking flight.

Contributor: Ashish Desai, Director, Engineering and Technology, Interface