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Interface Automotive Force Measurement Solutions

Interface introduced our load cells to the auto and vehicle industry more than five decades ago. Quality and precision sensor technologies are essential to manufacturing and production for vehicles.

Interface force measurement devices are used for critical testing in both commercial and industrial vehicle design and production to ensure safety and reliability in the automotive industry.

As the industry has evolved and transformed, so has the products we supply to our customers in this market. Our range of solutions continues to expand in functionality and capabilities as complexities of testing throughout the entire journey, from component design and prototyping to rigorous safety testing of every piece of equipment progresses.

By creating highly responsive, critically accurate, and safer load cell and torque sensors, we are seeing our products used in all types of test and measurement applications, including:

  • Engine dynamometers
  • Lug nut assembly
  • Airbag connector testing
  • EV battery testing
  • ICE and EV motor torque testing
  • Equipment fatigue testing
  • Motor test stands
  • Brake and clutch pedal force
  • Engine head bolt tightening
  • Vehicle crash test walls
  • Race car suspension testing
  • Transmission gear box and gear mesh
  • Autonomous vehicle tests

Research and development facilities with precision application requirements favor our 1200 Series LowProfile™ Load Cells with their special moment compensated design. These are used in auto manufacturer assembly lines in a variety of production monitoring and verification applications. Our exceedingly accurate LowProfile™ Load Cells have even been used in NASCAR and IndyCar garages for testing individual springs and entire vehicle suspensions.

Preview Interface products used in the automotive and vehicle markets in this new solutions video.

Here are two highlights of automotive application notes.  You can find more about automotive and vehicle solutions here.

Tire Testing

A top tire manufacturer needed a solution that would provide data analysis for stress testing.  The research would provide advancements to their product by defining the tire’s dynamic control capabilities. In review with our application engineers, they detailed they need to measure both the torque and lateral force in their testing.

Interface recommended the new AT105 Contactless Force Torque Transducer. With the torque and lateral force testing requirements, they determined that the best option to review the results by display as well as with graphing is to connect the transducers to the 4-Channel USB Interface Module SI-USB4.  You can see the entire solution and results in the Tire Testing App Note.

MDPS Testing

A manufacturer wanted to test the power steering for their vehicles. They want to test the linkage tension and compression between the rack and pinion. On a test frame, Interface’s 1200 Standard Precision LowProfile™ Load Cell was installed at the end of the rack and pinion actuator. As the wheel is turned, the load cell tests the push and pull forces. Force measurements can be displayed in real time using the highly accurate 9870 High-Speed High Performance TEDS Ready Indicator. The 1200 Standard Precision LowProfile Load Cell successfully measured the tension and compression between the rack and pinion of the customer’s MDPS system. You can see the entire solution and results in the MDPS testing App Note.

Additional Resources:

Driving Force in Automotive Applications

Advancing Auto Testing with Interface Measurement Solutions

Automotive Window Pinch Force Testing

Test and Measurement for Electric Vehicles

 

Interface Helps to Power the Electric Vehicle Market Forward

Any time innovation is introduced into the market, it takes many years to iterate and realize the full potential of the technology. In today’s automotive marketplace, electric vehicles (EV) are reaching a point where the technology and capabilities are fully realized and is primed for an outbreak on mass scale. In fact, a recent IEA report found that more than 10 million cars on the road in 2020 were electric, estimated to be 2% of the market.

There are currently 370 models of electric vehicles sold today, with the number growing. To facilitate the further growth of the EV market, Interface continues to play a pivotal role in supplying force and torque test and measurement systems that meet the demands for superior testing requirements of all components used to make these vehicles. The automotive market, and especially EVs, are subjected to extremely strict regulations. Therefore, test and measurement are critical for every part for safety, reliability, durability, and overall vehicle performance.

Interface saw the rise in the electric vehicle market long before is the exponential adoption and growth and started early in investing in the development of force measurement technologies designed specifically to support testing of EVs. Our products we’re already well-known within the automotive industry because of our ability to deliver superior quality and high accuracy solutions that auto manufacturers and testing labs rely upon.

One of the most important developments in our lineup of EV compatible testing equipment was the introduction of AxialTQ™ torque transducer system in 2018. The AxialTQ system was engineered in direct collaboration with end-users who shared operational priorities, user interface, design, features, real-world field issues and more. The AxialTQ torque measurement system redefines the torque transducer category in terms a crash-proof design for maximum reliability, versatile model for application flexibility, simultaneous analog and digital outputs, real-time control and data collection and interchangeable stators and output modules that minimize parts inventory. You can see it in action in this video, AxialTQ Engine Dynamometer Application Note.

The rotor sensing element and electronics are the heart of the system which will be offered in 8 torque capacities in 5 DIN sizes. With the flexible capability of stator and output module mounting, the AxialTQ system offers vast configurations capabilities to meet any application need, especially for testing of EV motors. Watch the latest webinar, The Latest Spin on AxialTQ, to learn more about this dynamic auto testing transducer.

Torque Measurement for Electric Vehicles

When an electric vehicle manufacturer needed a torque measurement system for their electric vehicle, they contacted us to inquire about a solution designed for the unique needs of EV motors. These motors run at significantly higher rotational speeds than their internal combustion engine (ICE) counterparts and have much higher power densities due to the small size and light weight. The preferred system would be used to test the torque and speed of their electric motors to achieve and ensure optimum instant peak torque performance.

Interface provided its AxialTQ Wireless Rotary Torque Transducer to provide the highest quality torque measurement. This product was delivered with the AxialTQ Output Module and the provided AxialTQ Assistant Software, that is installed on a test bench. This allows data results to be calculated and collected in real-time. Using AxialTQ, the customer ran tests to sense the electric vehicle’s motor with high accuracy. It both measured and calculated the electric vehicles torque and rotational speed (RPM), while collecting data. Results are then be reviewed on the customer’s PC or laptop with the included AxialTQ Assistant Software. Using this solution, the customer was able to achieve their required instant peak torque.

This is just one of the many test and measurement solutions Interface provides to automotive manufacturers and makers of electric vehicles components.  Interface will be showcasing additional products used for auto testing at the next Automotive Test Expo.  You can see a highlight of some of these products in this highlight video of popular Interface automotive testing products.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Advancing Auto Testing with Interface Measurement Solutions

Driving Force in Automotive Applications

Auto Industry Applications

Automotive and Vehicle

Torque Measurement for Electric Vehicles

Test and Measurement for Electric Vehicles

Advancing Auto Testing with Interface Measurement Solutions

What classifies as the automotive industry involves a complex and dynamic mix of suppliers, makers and designers of all types of vehicles, as well as prototypes of the changing demands and requirements of consumers both big and small.  Whether we look at where we are today with hybrid and electric motors, or autonomous rigs and people movers in test now, one thing that is constant is Interface’s role in providing vital measurement solutions for testing and real-time performance monitoring in the automotive and vehicle markets.

Automotive is one of the industries in which Interface has worked with since the introduction of our first load cells more than five decades ago. Force and torque measurement is critical to testing at every stage of design and manufacturing. Our sensor solutions, instrumentation and accessories are used across all facets of component development, including the testing of engines and exterior bodies, tires, batteries, fuel pumps and more.

Interface products are used for crash walls, brake testing, energy storage tests in the lab, seat belt and headrest testing, just to name a few. The fact is torque and force play a major role in making the vehicle move and ensuring it’s safe for drivers and pedestrians alike.  Interface is showcasing some of these solutions at the upcoming Automotive Test Expo. Registration to attend is free.

As the industry evolves, so do we. In fact, our advanced product AxialTQ was created for the automotive industry for testing of EVs. This revolutionary torque transducer is now used in all types of line production, assembly and part, including:

  • Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) Lab Testing and End of Line (EOL) Testing
  • Drivetrain Lab Testing
  • Automotive Accessory Lab Testing
  • Electric Vehicle (EV) Motor EOL and EV Lab Testing

For more about this dynamic product, you can watch our latest AxialTQ Webinar here.

Interface supplies high quality, precision load cells to automotive manufacturers, including custom one-off sensors and special application-specific designs. Standard off-the-shelf models such as our 2400 series , our 3200 series Stainless Steel LowProfile™ Load Cells, and our WMC Miniature Load Cell family are popular with machine builders and used anywhere a rugged stainless steel load cell is required.

Research and development facilities with precision applications favor our 1200 Series LowProfile™ Load Cells with their special moment compensated design. These are used in auto manufacturer assembly lines in a variety of production monitoring and verification applications. Our exceedingly accurate LowProfile™ Load Cells have been used in NASCAR and IndyCar garages for testing individual springs and entire vehicle suspensions.

A moment compensated Interface load cell has as much as 1,000 times less error from side load or moment as our competitor’s products. And many of our sensors feature 10x mechanical overload protection, which helps protect against unintended loads. Our Model BPL Load Cell is a very LowProfile™ load cell used for measuring force on gas, brakes or clutch pedals.

With a wide range of automotive vehicle load cell sensors, force and torque measurement capabilities, and features such as moment compensation, temperature compensation, and mechanical overload protection, Interface can help you design a solution perfect for your automotive application. In fact, here are a few examples of our products in action.

Airbag Connector Testing

Testing airbag connectors functionality is needed ensure perfect deployment to meet the ultimate test of saving lives. There are eight to twelve connectors installed in each vehicle, and tests are needed to be made in order to clarify the connectors are working effectively. The amount of force needs to be tested in order to see when an electrical current has triggered use.  Utilizing the WMC Sealed Stainless Steel Miniature Load Cell to the actuator of the test rig. The airbag connector is held in place at the bottom of the test rig. Forces are applied and measured using the 9330 High Speed Data Logger as the connector is pushed down to latch together.  Read more about this use case.

Seat TestingSeat Testing

During testing there was consistent overloading and replacing of the single-axis load cells. After a thorough inspection, it was discovered that this was due to bending moments that had never been quantified so a multi-axis sensor was defined as the best solution.  An Interface Model 6A68C 6-Axis load cell was installed in their existing test machine. The 6-Axis Sensor was intentionally oversized allowing the customer to measure the unidentified bending moments while preventing any damage. Data Acquisition and Amplifier BX8 was used to graph, log, & store the data collected at the sensor. Read more here.

Automotive Headrest Testing

When a manufacturer for automotive head rests wanted to test the durability of their products by conducting several fatigue tests and force tests on the head rests to make sure it meets durability and high-quality standards, Interface was able to help. The solution was to install Model 1000 Fatigue-Rated LowProfile™ Dual Bridge Load Cell to the customer’s actuator mechanism. This load cell is perfect for fatigue testing and reports highly accurate results through the fatigue cycling. The results are collected by using the SI-USB Universal Serial Bus Dual Channel PC Interface Module, which synchronizes the data directly from the load cell and the string pot (for measuring distance) to the customer’s computer. Using this system, the head rest manufacturer was able to get highly accurate data through the fatigue testing cycle. Watch the testing video in action!

 

Engine DynamometerEngine Dynamometer

Internal combustion engines are by far the most common power source for land vehicles. From a 2-stroke motor in a lawn mower, to a V-8 stock car engine, horsepower and torque are the benchmarks of engine performance. Engine manufacturers and aftermarket suppliers use an engine dynamometer (dyno for short) to accurately measure an engine’s performance. An engine dyno isolates an engine’s power output to help quantify its overall performance, applying a load directly to the engine and utilizing a load cell to measure the torque absorbed by the loading mechanism. Horsepower is then calculated using the torque and RPM of the engine. To conduct this test, a precision S-Type Load Cell is attached to a torque arm which “feels” the torque from the engine loading system. The Interface Model SSMF is a great choice because it is fatigue-rated for a number of fully reversed cycles and is environmentally sealed to withstand harsh environments. Utilizing the Model CSC Signal Conditioner provides a clear signal to a data-acquisition system. Using this test solution, the load cell reacts precisely with the amount of torque being produced by the engine and provides accurate signals to the data-acquisition system. Engineers are then able to analyze the power transfer for the engine and optimize for performance. Read more about this solution here.

For additional automotive solutions and use cases, go here.

The Future of Automotive is Electric

Interface has been a longtime provider of force measurement solutions that help engineers develop the technology of tomorrow. One of our main areas of expertise during our 50 plus years in business has been in solutions for the automotive industry.

Interface has helped to revolutionize design and efficiency in this industry using our high accuracy test and measurement solutions. With the increased need for sustainable electric vehicles, we have set our sights on advancing this high-growth area in automotive.

“Less than 5 percent of vehicles sold in 2016 were equipped with EV power trains. Major OEMs have announced that they’re aiming to bring that number above 50 percent by 2021.” McKinsey Quarterly, February 2019

Electric vehicle design and manufacturing requires a precise level of accuracy in order to improve energy efficiency, minimize weight and maximize vehicle range. Battery technology has only come so far; therefore, maximizing power output is the key to improving vehicle design. To achieve this, test and measurement solutions need to be as accurate as possible.

Interface provides high accuracy torque transducers, load cells, load washers and more for two areas of electric vehicle testing: laboratory testing to optimize system performance and production testing to ensure product quality.

Interface’s Role in Vehicle Testing

Laboratory Testing

In laboratory testing, Interface force and torque measurement products are used to achieve high-efficiency in component and system designs. While electric vehicle designs are already very efficient, minimal design adjustments can make a difference to increase total range from a single charge. Making small incremental changes in efficiency, therefore, requires very accurate measurement capability.

Applications of our products in the laboratory environment include maximizing the system performance of electric vehicle drivetrain components, such as motors and gearboxes. As well as performance in auxiliary systems, such as air conditioning compressors and motors, power steering motors, and even brake systems. Accurately measuring the force of dynamic systems like suspension components allow the designer to minimize weight to improve overall vehicle range and performance.

Production Testing

Once the components are moved into the vehicle production phase, Interface solutions are used to ensure the product has been built per the design.  Our products can be used to measure the steady state, as well as the dynamic performance of components and systems.  Using measurement systems they can trust gives customers the confidence that the components and systems meet the performance and dependability expected for the vehicle design.

The key to electric vehicle design is balancing the relationship between efficiency, performance, and cost.  The further we can make electric vehicles go on a single charge, the more attractive these vehicles become for mass markets.

Optimized efficiency requires the most accurate measurements available to our customers and this is where Interface excels. Jake Shaffer, Senior Product Manager

In October 2018, Interface released AxialTQ, specifically designed to help in the transforming vehicle market, including electric and autonomous vehicles. You can read about AxialTQ and view this revolutionary next-generation torque measurement system in action here:

If you are interested in scheduling a demonstration of the product or inquiring about Interface’s precision solutions like AxialTQ that we are providing for force measurement testing of electric vehicles, contact us today.

Contributor:  Jake Shaffer, Senior Product Manager at Interface