Load Cell Mounting 101

Properly mounting a load cell ensures the sensor provides the most stable readings and accurate measurements. Although a load cell will function no matter how it is oriented and operated in tension or compression mode, mounting instructions are specific to each sensor model.

Interface provides complete product datasheets and drawings to locate the features for mounting. Our instructions include model, material, capacity, mounting holes, threads and dowel pins, and pilot specifications for live and dead-end use.

All load cells have a “dead” end and a “live” end. Commonly, the dead end is the mounting end directly connected to the output cable or connector by solid metal. Conversely, the live end is separated from the output cable or connector by the strain gage area of the flexure.

This concept is significant because mounting a cell on its live end makes it subject to forces introduced by moving or pulling the cable. However, mounting it on the dead end ensures that the forces coming in through the cable are shunted to the mounting instead of being measured by the load cell.

SPECIAL INTERFACE LOAD CELL MOUNTING TIP: The Interface load cell nameplate reads correctly when the cell sits on the dead end on a horizontal surface. Therefore, the user can employ the nameplate lettering to specify the required orientation to the installation team explicitly. For example, for a single-cell installation holding a vessel in tension from a ceiling joist, the user would specify mounting the cell so that the nameplate reads upside down. For a cell mounted on a hydraulic cylinder, the nameplate would read correctly when viewed from the end of the hydraulic cylinder.



Mechanical mounting is one of the most critical aspects determining your application’s success. This is a sensor-based decision, as load cell models have different features that can be used for various mounting requirements.

First, define how you will attach your load cells.  Are they going to be using threaded connections? Are you going to have the load cells press up against a surface? Are you using an actuator, rod-end bearings, or clevises?

Other considerations regarding mounting are the objects used to secure the sensor. Will you use adhesive? Will it be secured inline, or do you need a through-hole for mounting? Will you be using mounting plates, and what is the geometry of the plates? The material used and the stiffness of the mounting components can affect the measurement’s performance and accuracy. READ: Interface Sensor Mounting and Force Plates

The direction of the load will impact your decision on the best approach.  All load cells have a live end and a dead end. It is not a single direction; some live ends may be at the top or the bottom.  The live-end and dead-end design will influence your cable and wireless management.

If you apply torque when installing fasteners, it is important not to twist the sensor. Tip: Hold the load cell at the same end where you are installing a fixture to prevent damage to the device.

Load Cell Mating Surface Tips

  • The surface must be clean and flat
  • The mounting surface must be flat to 0.0002 total indicator reading
  • Suitable thickness and material
  • Recommended hardness of Rc 30 or higher
  • Mounting bolt torque according to specifications

Installation Care

Make sure the threaded connections are tight and preloaded, if possible. Pre-loading removes the system’s slop and prevents wear, which is critical when using the sensor for fatigue testing. It is also essential to pre-load to get the performance as designated in the calibration certification.

For compression loading, you want one flat surface and one radius surface. Make sure you only have one curved surface. Typically, the load cell will have a radius surface, so you will want to load it against a flat surface. Identifying the load point is harder if you have two flat surfaces. If you have two radius surfaces, they will tend to slide apart. This can create bending and be dangerous to the technician.

Interface offers load cells with and without bases. When supplied together, the base is engineered to be an appropriate and “matching” mating surface for the sensor.  If you are using a load cell without a base, it is important to mount it to something like the base in flatness, stiffness, and thickness so they do not deform under load. This is critical to get the most accurate measurement.


  • Load Cells not mounted by the manufacturer’s recommendations may not perform to the manufacturer’s specifications.
  • Make sure that mounting surfaces are clean, flat, and aligned.
  • Torque of all mounting hardware to specifications.
  • Always confirm the load cell orientation: the “dead” end on mechanical reference or load forcing source and the “live” end connected to the load to be measured. Typically, the dead end is the end closest mechanically to the cable exit or connector.
  • Use proper hardware (thread sizes, jam nuts, and swivels) to connect the load to the load cell.
  • It is fundamental to have one and only one load path.
  • This load path must be through the load axis of the load cell. This may sound elementary; however, it is a commonly overlooked problem.

Utilizing best practices in mounting is also extremely important. Deflections in the system can introduce errors and apparent crosstalk into the sensor measurement.


Universal Load Cells 101

Mounting Tips for Multi-Axis Sensors

Mounting Plates

6A Mounting Tightening Torques

3A Mounting Instructions

Flange Style Load Cells and Torque Transducers 101

Basics on Load Cell Base Kits

LowProfile™ Load Cell Base Kits



The Anatomy of a Load Cell

Have you ever stopped to think about what makes the things we use everyday work? At Interface, our engineers think about what makes up an Interface load cell on the production floor and in our design lab every day.

Whether we are manufacturing a new load cell or speaking to a customer about how it can help solve their test and measurement challenges, we are always thinking about what a load cell can do and how to perfect the process of building one that exceeds all customer expectations in performance, reliability and accuracy.

One thing that people ask us about all the time is, what does it look like inside the pioneering Interface blue load cell? In the photo below, you have a cross-section of a basic load cell identifying each of the components and how it all comes together to provide industries around the globe world-class force measurement solutions.

The first component to understand is the strain gage. This mechanism is embedded in the gage cavity and is a sensor that varies its resistance as it is stretched or compressed. When tension or compression is applied, the strain gage converts force, pressure, and weight into a change that can then be measured in the electrical resistance. You can read more in our recent strain gage 101 blog. Here at Interface, we manufacture our own strain gages in-house to ensure premium quality and accuracy.

The main features of a strain gage are illustrated in the following image:

  1. Grid Lines – strain sensitive pattern
  2. End Loops – provide creep compensation
  3. Solder Pads – used to solder interconnecting wire to the gage
  4. Fiducials – assist with the gage alignment
  5. Backing – insulates and supports foil and bonds the strain gage to the flexure

There are also multiple gage configurations depending on the type of load cell. These include:

  • Linear – measures the strain under bending (used in mini beam load cells)
  • Shear – measures strain under shear force (used in low-profile load cells)
  • Poisson – measures strain under normal stress (used in the Interface 2100 Series Column Load Cells)
  • Chevron – measures strain under torsion (used in the Interface 5400 Series Flange Load Cells)

The next component to understand is the load bearing component of the load cell. It is made up of the hub, diaphragm, outer ring, inner ring and base. This component deflects under load to allow the strain gages to send a signal through the connector to the data acquisition device. Customization can include changing the metal materials used to meet environmental or strength concerns and designing the beam height and thickness to meet certain size and stress considerations.

The mounting ring and connector are also incredibly important to the proper use of a load cell and accurate data collection. The mounting ring is the area in which the load cell is mounted to the test rig to measure force and collect data. It is important to pay attention to mounting instructions because an improperly mounted load cell can cause inaccurate results, as well as damage to the load cell. There are also mounting adapters available to fit a wide variety of test rigs.

The connector is the component that allows the load cell to connect to a data acquisition device. The connector is attached via a wire to the data acquisition device and force data is sent through this device to the user through ethernet or Bluetooth® depending on the load cell and data acquisition device configuration. Interface also sells a wide variety of data acquisition devices.

Load cells have many configurations and capacities. In fact, we have made tens of thousands of them over the years to meet standard, modified and engineered to order specifications. The load cell diagram above represents a popular low profile “pancake” load cell.  There are many other styles including miniature load cells, bending and dual bending beams, column-style, S-beam and load button load cells. However, even as the shapes and uses change, the anatomy remains relatively similar, with these main components acting as the workhorse of the load cell and providing accurate force data to the user.

For more information on Interface and our wide range of load cells, torque transducers and data acquisition devices check out our product categories on our site or download our product literature here.