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Instrumentation Analog Versus Digital Outputs

Interface sells a wide variety of instruments designed to help take data measured on a load cell or torque transducer and convert it into a readable form. Within this expanding family of instrumentation offered by Interface, there are two types of output methods available: analog or digital.

By far, analog output for test and measurement instrumentation has been the most popular. Analog output is measurement represented in a continuous stream. Technologies have advanced a growing demand for more advanced data capture. Digital instrumentation uses digits as the output, providing greater measurement accuracy and digital resolution.

Understanding which output is best for your project is important in getting the right communication capabilities to use with the designated sensor components. It’s an important consideration whether you are designing a new testing system or working with an existing program and looking to add new instrumentation.  You can gain further insights by watching our Instructional on Instrumentation webinar here.

Here is a brief explanation on the difference between analog and digital instrumentation, along with advantages of each.

Benefits of Digital

Digital outputs are becoming more and more popular for several reasons. The first is that they often incur lower installation costs than their analog counterpart. Digital also works across existing networks. For instance, if you have ethernet IP you can interface directly into it as opposed to running analog signals.

Digital outputs are also far more scalable than analog because a lot of the time you can replace sensors without causing a disruption. Multiple sensors can also be daisy chained into a single cable run, meaning the user can piggyback into an existing network rather than running cables back to a controller. This is one reasons the installation cost is often lower.

There are also built-in error detections with digital outputs to detect things like open legs and bridges. And if you’re digitizing at the sensor, the system is less susceptible to noise because digital signals are natural noise immune.

Benefits of Analog

With all the benefits of digital, why would someone still choose the older output method of analog? Analog signals are still faster than digital and are much easier to work with. Additionally, analog systems take up far less bandwidth than digital. Therefore, if you’re in an area with low-bandwidth, digital output solutions may slow the network down, while analog will not.

It is important to note that many DAQs and PLCs accept analog signals, so if the user wants to stay with what they already have in house, analog may be the better option.

Choosing Analog or Digital

When deciding between analog and digital instrumentation output capabilities, it’s important to consider the following questions as well:

  • Are you connecting to an existing network? For instance, if its CAN bus, you may want to use CAN bus sensors. But, if it’s pure analog, you’re not going to want to convert everything over to digital unless there are other factors driving this move?
  • Are you connecting to an existing DAQ device? If your system has available analog input channels, you may be fine with analog output. If it doesn’t, you may have to add extra channels. Or say the system has an EtherCAT connection, you can use the same DAQ without adding channels by interfacing with it digitally.
  • What is your budget? If your network already has a lot of analog systems, the cost of staying with analog may be worth it. If you must add channels to your DAQ, but you have digital interfaces available, that may allow for cost savings based on how many channels and sensors you need.
  • How many sensors are you connecting? If you have a lot of sensors, the obvious answer is digital because of the flexibility it provides, and the limited cable runs needed. But if you don’t need many sensors, analog could make more sense.

There are several considerations to make when choosing digital versus analog.  You can learn more about which options suit your project requirements by reviewing the online specs of our range of instrumentation solutions.

There is also considerable detail in the many options available in our Instrumentation Overview here.

Additional Instrumentation InterfaceIQ Posts

Instrumentation Options in Test and Measurement

Instrumentation Application Notes

Force Measurement Instrumentation 101

Digital Instrumentation for Force Measurement

Recap of Instructional on Instrumentation Webinar

Interface recently hosted a new ForceLeaders event on the topic of instrumentation.

The webinar experts, Keith Skidmore and Ken Bishop, shared insights and experience in different types of instrumentation. Along with detailing various features, they provided valuable tips for testing engineers, metrologists, and sensor users on how to choose the right instrumentation for your upcoming projects or new systems.

The discussion featured a series of instrumentation types, benefits and uses cases, which you can now watch online by visiting our training and events page here.

The types of instrumentation detailed during the webinar showcases the range of products we offer and that are available to complete any testing solution.  These products range from simple boxes to complete telemetry systems used for field and wireless communication requirements. The webinar highlighted the following range of instrumentation options:

  • Signal Conditioners
  • Indicators
  • Data Acquisition
  • Portable Load Cell Indicators
  • Weight Indicators
  • Junction Boxes
  • USB Interfaces
  • TEDS Ready
  • Wireless and Bluetooth Telemetry Systems

The experts offered guidance on the topic of analog versus digital and wireless versus Bluetooth. They also provided some simple criteria to review when deciding what type of instrumentation fits your exact requirements.

Basic Criteria for Selecting Digital or Analog

  • Is there an existing network you need to connect to?
  • Are you connecting to an existing DAQ device?
  • What is your budget?
  • How many sensors are you connecting?
  • Do you need to communicate through a bus?

For more insights into application use cases, frequently asked questions and top 10 tips, be sure to watch the event.  Here are just a few of the tips shared during the Instructional on Instrumentation presentation:

Tip #1 – Know your power supply requirements, amount of filtering that is fixed or adjustable, input range, scalability and zero adjustment range.

Tip #2 – The output signal from a load cell is expressed in terms of millivolt output per Volt of excitation, at capacity. 

Tip #3 – The output signal is directly affected by input voltage. It’s important to maintain a stable excitation voltage.

WATCH THE RECORDED LIVE EVENT: INSTRUCTIONAL ON INSTRUMENTION

If you have missed any of our ForceLeaders webinars, be sure to visit our YouTube Channel.  We have recorded all the events for your convenience.  Our experts are also here to help you get the exact instrumentation based on your unique requirements. Contact us here for questions or technical assistance.

Additional Resources:

Instrumentation Options in Test and Measurement

Digital Instrumentation for Force Measurement

Force Measurement Instrumentation 101

Tension Links 101

A tension link load cell is commonly used in lifting, both for short and long distances, and weighing applications. This type of load cell sensor generally has capacities ranging from 2.2K lbf to 1.1M lbf (5 to 500 metric tons). All tension links are available in custom versions and large capacities based on the customer’s project requirements.

Interface’s Tension Link series is manufactured from high tensile aluminum and stainless steel. Matched to shackle sizes, the load links have a rugged design for uses in harsh environments on the surface and in water. The tension links are environmentally sealed to IP65, IP66 or IP67. There are higher ratings available upon request.

A major benefit of Interface tension links is the option for custom designs in dimensions, ratings and capacities. The tension links are easy to install and are highly accurate.  They are compact in size and light weight. Another benefit is the options available, which include standard, wireless and self-indicating, giving the operator a variety of application use cases for quick measurement readings.  Self-indicating tension links have a built-inaudible alarm, which can be set by the operator to warn when an applied weight or force is met.

Often, customers will integrate the tension links with an Interface Crosby styled load shackle for robust applications that require accurate and reliable force measurement used for lifting, weighing, hoisting or towing apparatus that need sensors for safety and monitoring.

Wireless options are growing in acceptance for all types of uses. Interface provides wireless tension links that are compact and reduce the overall product weight based on the casing used to house the small alkaline batteries, which can be easily accessed by removing the telemetry housing cover while the internal electronics remain completely sealed. The antenna is also internally mounted, protecting it from accidental damage during use and handling, which is ideal for harsh environments.

Watch this discussion to learn more about the wireless features of the Interface Tension Links and Load Shackles.

Interface’s most popular tension links include:

WTSTL Wireless Tension Link Load CellDesigned for lifting applications requiring short or long distances. This product can transmit wirelessly up to 600 meters in distance (clear line of sight) to a handheld display or USB base station. Model WTSTL is available in capacities ranging from 11K lbf to 220K lbf (5 to 100 metric tons). Custom versions and larger capacities are available upon request.

WTSLTL Lightweight Wireless Tension Link – This smaller version ranges from 1 to 300 MT (2.2K to 661K lbf) and uses a lightweight aluminum construction, with an internal antenna and 1200 hours batter life using standard AA batteries.  It has high accuracy and uses license free 2.4GHz radio. There is an option to use this with telemetry and/or software for readout and reporting.

ISITL Self-Indicating Tension Link Load CellManufactured from high tensile aluminum to minimize weight, the ISITL is great for lifting and weighing in rugged or harsh environments.  The self-indication tension link load cell is ideal for mobile use cases.  It is simple to install and is matched to standard shackle sizes. They have a built-in display for applied weight or force in tons, kgs, lbs or kN. Interface can also offer a custom software to meet any specific application requirements for digital display or readouts.

ITL Tension Link Load Cell – This basic tension link can be amplified with 5VDC, 10VDC or 4-20mA Outputs. It can also be made to meet ATEX requirements. Model ITL is available in capacities ranging from 11K lbf to 220K lbf (5 to 100 metric tons). Custom versions and larger capacities can be requested at no additional charge, based on the exact specifications needed by the customer.

To learn more about our wide variety of load pins, load shackles and tension links, please visit www.interfaceforce.com/product-category/load-pins-tension-links-and-load-shackles/.

 

 

Interface Load Cell Indicators

At Interface, our claim to fame is that we offer the most accurate and reliable force measurement devices on the market, from load cells to torque transducers and everything in-between. However, no test is complete without the system used to gather the data to evaluate performance results. That’s why we provide a wide variety of instrumentation solutions that include signal conditionersoutput moduleshigh speed data loggersportable load cell indicators, and weight indicators to complete any testing system.

Among the Interface instrumentation products, the most frequently purchased with a force measurement devices are our load cell indicators in various models including handheld, digital, wireless, multichannel, programmable, output modules, analog and bidirectional.

What is a load cell Indicator?

A load cell indicator is a high-accuracy device connected to the output of a load cell to amplify and display the value of the measured load force and weight. Load cell indicators are often needed where the force, load, or weight measurement needs to be visually displayed for the user and displaying the results on a PC is not feasible or desired in the testing environment. For example, testing in the field or confined spaces can make it impossible to connect directly to a PC. In these situations, indicators are used to quickly review and capture force data in real-time.

A few key benefits of load cell indicators include that they provide stable excitation voltage and converts force measurement sensor signals to a digital display. Commonly available features include analog or digital output, selectable digital filtering, peak and valley monitoring and set-point outputs. Additionally, each load cell indicator can be used to connect to four (or more) digital load cells and can display individual readings or the sum of all connected load cells.

Need a load cell indicator?

Interface offers a wide variety of load cell indicators in multiple configurations. Interface indicators come in single to multi-channel weight transmitters and can be found in handheld and portable designs. Things to consider when selecting an indicator are internal sample rate and update rate of the output. A few of our most popular indicators include:

9890 Strain Gage, Load Cell, & mV/V Indicator

Model 9890 is a powerful multipurpose digital load cell meter ideal for weight and force measurement applications. With a max current of 350 mA at 10 V, it can support up to 12 load cells making it perfect for multipoint weight measurement purposes. The dual-scale capability allows for displays in two different units of measure. See a demonstration video here.

9320 Battery Powered Portable Load Cell Indicator

Model 9320 is a bipolar 7-digit handheld meter featuring two independently scalable ranges, peak and valley monitoring, display hold, mV/V calibration, and a power save feature. Typical battery life exceeds 45 hours of continuous use and 450 in low power mode. IEEE1451.4 TEDS Plug and Play compliant.

482 Battery Powered Bidirectional Weight Indicator

Model 482 is battery powered, bidirectional, and comes in a NEMA 4X stainless enclosure. Standard options include 523,000 internal counts, 0.8-inch LCD 6-digit display and a measurement rate that goes up to 40 Hz. Available options include analog and relay outputs.

1280 Programmable Weight Indicator and Controller

The Interface 1280 Series programmable digital weight indicator with color touchscreen, web server view and multiple protocol types delivers uncompromising speed for today’s operations and expansive options for tomorrow’s requirements.

INF4-Ethernet IP Weight Transmitter and Indicator

The Interface INF4-Ethernet IP weight transmitter and indicator has a six-digit red LED display (8 mm height), space-saving compact design, four buttons for the system calibration, and a six-indicator LED.

See all the indicator options here.

Load Cell Indicator Application Note

The application note below provides an example of the benefit of a load cell indicator in real-world use within the medical industry.

A pharmaceutical tablet producer wanted to monitor the forces applied by the tablet forming machine to understand the relationship between raw material, die set, forming force, and motor-cycle speed. The goal was to improve productivity and efficiency of the tablet forming process while reducing losses, such as cracked tablets or voids, by adding a dimension of feedback that could be used to assign specific press adjustment criteria for given inputs.

An Interface Model WMC Sealed Stainless Steel Mini Load Cell (10K lbf Capacity) was mounted in the section of the downward press bar. The machine was modified to accomplish this. The load cell was then connected to a Model 9320 Portable Load Cell Indicator to collect the needed data.

The indicator was selected as the data collection device because a laptop could have interfered with the test cycle due to space restrictions. The output of the load cell was connected to the 9320 Portable Load Cell Indicator and set aside so that the cable did not interfere with the cycle and no snagging would occur. A cable tie was used to stow aside the cable and to ensure there was enough clearance for the entire cycle.

After analyzing the data, the tablet producer was able to quantify adjustment levels by monitoring which forces produced the most optimal results for a given cycle speed, die set, and raw material. Productivity and efficiency were greatly improved by the enhancement of the data feedback.

To learn more about Interface load cell indicators and for a complete list of products, you can download our instrumentation brochure here. You can also read more about instrumentation options in test and measurement in this post.

Test Stand Applications for Force and Torque

In the world of test and measurement, test stands are essential equipment for manufacturers and testing engineers. The test stand provides a host of different testing products in a single “cabinet-like” structure. These systems have been used for a long time to gather data on various functions of products during the product test phase.

Test stands works like a mobile test lab, hosted by a frame and containing one or more force or torque sensor components, software, and data acquisition instrumentation and accessories. Force stands are typically motorized or manual.  Motorized test stands, also known as mechanical or electrical, have the advantages of controlling performance by applying modes such as speed, cycles, and time into the testing procedure. The more advanced testing stands are frequently used for repetitive high-performance testing requirements, validating accuracy and quality. Manual test stands are used for simple testing protocols and frequently used in education programs.

There are a wide variety of testing devices and sensor products that are used as part of the entire test process. As parts roll off the production line, the test stand will sit at the end of the line where the test engineer can immediately load the product into the test rig. Test stands help to streamline the test process by providing all available test functions in a single, mobile application.

Interface is a supplier of choice for precision components of various capacities and dimensions for test stand configurations requiring precision and accuracy in performance. Interface load cells, torque transducers, and instrumentation equipment are commonly used in numerous product test applications by engineers, metrologists, testing professionals and product designers around the world.

Included below are a few examples of specific test applications and the Interface components used in the different style testing stands.

Linear Test Stand

In this example, an Interface customer wanted to add a crush test to their test stand to measure the force it took to deform a piece of material. Interface provided an Model 1210 Load Cell with an internal amplification of 0-10VDC output.

The load cell was installed into the load string of the customer’s load frame, and the scaled analog output from the load cell was connected to the customer’s test stand instrumentation. When the force levels reached the crushing point, the customer’s software was able to read the output of the amplified load cell and record the value.

See the application note for the Linear Test Stand here.

Motor Test Stand

In the quality control lab at a major automotive manufacturing company, a test engineer needed to test, record, and audit the torque produced by a new motor design under start load. Interface supplied the new AxialTQ® Rotary Torque Transducer that connected between the motor and the differential, on the drive shaft, that could measure and record these torque values.

Based on the data collected using the AxialTQ transducer, along with the AxialTQ Output Module, and a laptop, the test engineer was able to make recommendations to optimize the amount of torque created by the new motor design.

See the application note for the Motor Test Stand here.

Verification Test Stand

In this application, a customer needed a test stand application to verify that its load cell was in good, working order. Interface helped to create a solution that used a load cell to verify the customer’s load cell. The solution involved the customer’s supplied verification load frame and an Interface Model 1210 Precision LowProfile® Load Cell connected with a Model SI-USB 2-Channel PC Interface Module.

The customer was able to install their load cell and Model 1210 Precision LowProfile Load cell into the verification load frame. Applied forces were displayed and recorded by Model SI-USB PC Interface Module for review and record keeping on customer’s computer. This allows the customer to have a proven load cell verification test stand at their disposal to ensure its test load cell is always in working order.

See the application note for the Verification Test Stand here.

These are just a few examples of the different types of test stands that Interface can provide off-the-shelf or custom force measurement solution components. If your project involves a mechanical test stand and you are interested in learning more about adding force sensors, please contact our application engineers.

Instrumentation Options in Test and Measurement

Force and torque measurement technologies such as load cells and torque transducers are a single part of an overall system often used for test and measurement projects and programs. Instrumentation is also a key component of force and torque measurement systems. Instrumentation tools are functional for visualizing and logging the sensor data.

When considering all the options for your project, product designers and engineers need to evaluate the type of instrumentation required to read and gather the sensor output and display the results.

Common questions to ask in preparing your test and measurement project, building a system or setting up a lab:

  • Where are you going to connect your sensor technology and how?
  • Do you need to store your data?
  • Do you prefer an analog or digital output device?
  • Are you going to plug-in your instrumentation or use hand-held, wireless or Bluetooth connectivity?
  • How will your data output be displayed?
  • How many channels do you need for your project or program?

These are all questions related to instrumentation devices and how they interact with and connect to your test and measurement products. Because of the wide variety of instrumentation options, from transmitters and indicators to data logging, it is critical to carefully review the features, specifications, capacities for each. Engineers and testers should review capabilities for data collection of a device, connectors and adapter requirements, and how the device works with specific types of load cells, torque transducers, multi-axis sensors, and other testing equipment.

A valuable tip is to spend time reviewing the specifications of any instrumentation device you are considering, as well as speak with an experienced application engineer. The critical model and design details are provided in the product datasheet to help in your selection.

Key areas to consider in your review and design of a force and torque measurement systems include:

  • Excitation
  • Outputs
  • Performance standards
  • Environmental performance
  • Power
  • Mechanical definitions
  • Connections
  • Protocols

There are dozens of instrumentation options available through Interface including signal conditionersoutput moduleshigh-speed data loggersportable load cell indicatorsweight indicators, and junction boxes. Here are some of our latest additions and most popular instrumentation products:

Download our Instrumentation Brochure
Download our NEW Digital Instrumentation Brochure

Terms and Definitions

To help get you started on the process of selecting the right instrumentation for your project, we have compiled a list of common terms used for instrumentation and in force measurement and sensor technology product descriptions.

  • Accuracy: The closeness of an indication or reading of a measurement device to the actual value of the quantity being measured. Usually expressed as ± percent of full-scale output or reading.
  • Adapter: A mechanism or device for attaching non-mating parts.
  • Amplifier: A device that draws power from a source other than the input signal and which produces as an output an enlarged reproduction of the essential features of its input.
  • Analog Output: A voltage or current signal that is a continuous function of the measured parameter.
  • Analog-to-Digital Converter (A/D or ADC): A device or circuit that outputs a binary number corresponding to an analog signal level at the input.
  • Bluetooth: A standard for the short-range wireless interconnection of mobile phones, computers, and other electronic devices.
  • Bus Formats: A bus is a common pathway through which information flows from one computer component to another. The common expansion bus types include, Industry Standard Architecture (ISA), Extended Industry Standard Architecture (EISA), Micro Channel Architecture (MCA), Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA), Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI), PCI Express (PCI-X), Personal Computer Memory Card Industry Association, (PCMIA), Accelerated Graphics Port (AGP), Small Computer Systems Interface (SCSI).
  • Calibration: Process of adjusting an instrument or compiling a deviation chart so that its reading can be correlated to the actual value being measured.
  • Communication: Transmission and reception of data among data processing equipment and related peripherals.
  • Controller: Controllers deliver measurement and control functions that may be used in a wide variety of applications. They feature compact form and versatility in systems that require precise measurement of weight or force combined with processing and storage.
  • Digital Output: An output signal which represents the size of an input in the form of a series of discrete quantities.
  • Environmental Conditions: All conditions in which a transducer may be exposed during shipping, storage, handling, and operation.
  • Frequency: The number of cycles over a specified time period over which an event occurs. The reciprocal is called the period.
  • Indicator: Load cell indicators are often needed where the force, load or weight measurement needs to be displayed to a user visually and displaying the results on a PC is not feasible.
  • Intelligent Indicator: Intelligent Indicators ensure sensor equipment is used for the correct amount of time, thereby helping to safeguard against mistakes or purposeful misuse.
  • Output: The electrical signal which is produced by an applied input to the transducer.
  • Protocol: A formal definition that describes how data is to be exchanged.
  • Range: Those values over which a transducer is intended to measure, specified by its upper and lower limits.
  • Signal Conditioner: A circuit module which offsets, attenuates, amplifies, linearizes and/or filters the signal for input to the A/D converter. The typical output signal conditioner is +2 V dc.
  • Strain Gage: A measuring element for converting force, pressure, or tension into an electrical signal.
  • Transducer Electronic Data Sheet (TEDS): Provides a force or torque transducer with electronic identification, allows sensor instrument to be “Plug & Play Ready” meets IEEE 1451.4
  • Wireless: Broadcasting, computer networking, or other communication using radio signals, microwaves, and other signals.

If you still have questions about load cells, torque transducers, and the instrumentation options please give us a call at 480-948-5555 or visit www.interfaceforce.com.

For some of the key terms, we used an online reference you can find here: Source

Digital Instrumentation for Force Measurement

The age of IoT (Internet of Things), where almost every vehicle, machine, and piece of equipment is connected and shares information rapidly, is also greatly impacting the world of engineering and manufacturing for the better.  Data is more accessible, which allows for improved decision-making and more efficient product development cycles and design testing.

The demands from customers to go digital is something that Interface has paid close attention too. Digital instruments are becoming more popular because of their advantages over analog devices, such as greater speed, increased accuracy, better resolution, reduction in operator errors and the ability to provide automatic measurements in the system application.

Interface provides a wide range of digital instruments that take load cell and strain bridge input and provides data output in a variety of protocol and bus formats, including many industry standards requirements. This combination allows our customers to transform their test and measurement programs and force measurement applications into the digital age. The results are faster data input and outputs, along with more robust analytics.

In addition to improved efficiency, accuracy and speed, digital instrumentation and more specifically, digital signals, provides a plethora of benefits for test and measurement engineers.

These benefits include:

  • Digital signals are less susceptible to noise
  • Digital signals are more secure
  • Digital signals can travel a long distance
  • Digital signals allow multi-directional transmission simultaneously
  • Digital instrumentation can connect to other devices and networks more easily
  • Digital instrumentation can connect with protocols that they are already using in their facility

Another key reason our customers are demanding digital instrumentation is because of the push for Industry 4.0 facilities. Industry 4.0 involves the process of connecting various machines, smart and conventional, to the cloud with sensors to create a powerful sensor network.

The Industry 4.0 network will be fast and stable enough to relay data to people or other machines in real-time. This data is rapidly turned into insight and the information ultimately allows engineers and manufacturers to automate more processes to create a more efficient factory. The digital instrumentation devices that Interface provides play a significant role in helping our customers create Industry 4.0 manufacturing for OEM products and compete in the fourth industrial revolution using digital technologies.

Some of the most popular digital instrumentation devices that Interface provides include:

  • INF1 Modbus TCP Weight Transmitter Indicator  – The Interface Modbus/TCP indicator has a 6-digit red LED display (8 mm height), space-saving compact design, 4 buttons for the system calibration for a single channel weight transmitter.
  • 480 Bidirectional Weight Indicator480 Bidirectional Weight Indicator – The 480 Bidirectional Weight Indicator comes in a NEMA 4X stainless enclosure. The standard options include 523,000 internal counts, 0.8 in. LED 6-digit display and a measurement rate that goes up to 40 Hz.
  • INF4-Ethernet TCP/IP Weight Transmitter Indicator – This 4-channel weight transmitter instrument works in an Ethernet TCP/IP network and it is accessible via a web browser. It has a 6-digit red LED semi-alphanumeric display (8 mm height) and 7 segments with a compact design, 4 buttons for the system calibration, and a 6 indicator LED.

For more information on Interface’s growing lineup up of digital instrumentation, please visit /product-category/digital-instrumentation/.

 

The Future of Force Measurement

In this post, Joel Strom, CEO at Interface, shared his vision for the company and force measurement predictions for 2020 and beyond. 

Engineering and manufacturing are continuously changing to keep up with the pace of fast-evolving technology. It feels like every time one of our customers releases a game-changing new product; they immediately go back to the drawing board to work on its next evolution. To enable our customers to meet the speed of innovation and compete in the expanding sensor marketplace, Interface must follow suit. That also means we are constantly looking at ways to improve the ingenuity and capability of our vast array of products and solutions.

Looking ahead to 2020 and the next five years, here are our predictions for the future of force measurement and how Interface is positioning ourselves as leaders in our industry.

Innovating for the Digital Age

For much of Interface’s 50-year history, we have developed analog load cells. This was always the way a load cell worked. In recent years, we have put a heavy focus on innovation and transforming our company for the digital age. The sensors we are building now allow our customers to transmit data wirelessly through WIFI and Bluetooth® technology. These products help to connect everything through the internet of things (IoT), giving our customers more accessibility in the way they collect and measure force data.

We are deliberately focusing on ways to provide our customers with more value from our entire suite of force measurement products, custom solutions, and services. Our goal is to connect everything we design, build and create ensuring the data our products gather can help make better decisions and automate processes greater efficiency and usability for our valued customers. Through the age of digital transformation, Interface is a partner to our customers in helping them do big things in the world.

Pushing the Limits in Force Measurement Technology

One of the biggest trends in force measurement is the demand for all-in-one tools and systems that provide more data points from a single product. Customers want their load cell and sensor technology to measure a combination of force, torque, vibration, position, speed and more.

We are addressing these requirements by investing in the next generation of our core products to improve the value to customers. As the most accurate and reliable load cell manufacturer, we want to push the limits on the accuracy, improve the temperature ranges of our products, and expand application uses and grow capacities. Using our ingenuity and industry experience, we also want to add more capability to our core products. Digitizing existing product lines is one way we are doing, as well as adding more sensors that can collect a wider range of data.

Exploring New Industries and Advanced Technology

One of the most exciting things about working in the force measurement industry is the fact that we are on the ground floor in developing new and innovative hardware. As we enter a new decade, we see expanding developments in space, robotics, and electric and autonomous vehicles. These are all products and inventions that require extremely accurate force measurement tools to create and test their innovations.

In order to stay on top of new technology, we are investing more in research and development than ever before. Imagining the possibilities, we are working closely with our customers, and in many cases partnering with them, to understand their evolving needs. Many of the products we have released in the last two years have been a direct response to customer requests and the application of imaginative thinking from our skilled leadership and engineering teams.

As we continue our journey in the 2nd 50 years of Interface, we are excited about the possibilities of force measurement and the new ways we can help our customers. We can’t wait to show you what we have on the horizon.

To stay up-to-date on new product announcements and to learn more about Interface and its commitment to accuracy, reliability, and innovation, please stay connected by subscribing to our blog and follow us on our social media channels: LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook.  You can also watch a recent company video highlighting why Interface was chosen as Arizona’s 2019 Manufacturer of the Year.

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Force Measurement Instrumentation 101

There are many types of instrumentation devices used in force measurement applications. Interface provides high-quality instrumentation tools to use with our wide range of load cells and torque transducers.

The variety of instrumentation solutions includes signal conditioners, output modules, high-speed data loggers, portable load cell indicators, weight indicators, and junction boxes.

Depending on the application requirements, Interface has solutions for full-data acquisition as well as wireless technology telemetry systems. Our multi-channel bridge amplifier has 4-channel capability, while the INF-USB2 universal serial has a sensor to USB output converter.  With more than 50 instrumentation products, the solutions range for all types of uses.

To provide you with more insight, here’s an overview of a few of Interface’s instrumentation offerings along with educational video demonstrations to help you.

4 Channel 9840-400-1-T Intelligent Indicator 

The Model 9840 is TEDS plug-and-play ready! It is suitable for use in calibration labs, field service, or anywhere high accuracy is important.  This intelligent digital indicator has auto-setup for multiple load cells with fast, direct analog output.  Features include two interactive 7″ graphical touch screen displays, remote sense, low noise, 24-bit internal resolution. It has a USB port with RS232 communication, mV/V calibration and can store calibrations for up to 25 sensors.  This unit also has self-calibration and is TEDS plug and play ready and IEEE 1451.4 compliant. It is fully compatible with the Gold Standard® Calibration Systems.

9860 High Speed Digital Indicator

Recently updated with new software, Interface’s Model 9860 High Speed Digital Indicator features an internal, high gain, fully differential amplifier with a 16-bit analog-to-digital converter combined to accurately digitize the input signal. The analog input is digitally filtered, with user-selected sample size and filter window (band), allowing optimization for specific operating conditions. With this model, self-calibrating ±10Vdc and 4-20mA analog output signals are standard. This product has an RS232 interface, which gives the instrument the ability to communicate, command, query operating modes and parameters and to continuously read data.

The Interface Transducer Electronic Data Sheet (TEDS) status indicator on the Model 9860 provides the information on the configuration of the input. A front panel RCAL switch provides a convenient calibration feature. Both calibration functions are easily performed via front panel pushbuttons.

Watch this video to learn how to calibrate your 9860 High Speed Digital Indicator and to see some of the product features.

DIG-USB Output Module

Interface’s DIG-USB Module is a compact, high-precision strain gage converter used for converting a strain gage sensor input to a digital output. It connects to a computer via a USB port. This product allows high precision measurements to be communicated directly to a computer and is aimed at applications which require high-accuracy measurement repeatability. With the appropriate drivers installed, the DIG-USB appears as a virtual serial port to the computer.

Simply by plugging the device into a computer, data can be extracted from most strain gage bridge input sensors and acquired by software which allows data manipulation removing the need for amplifiers, filters, and multi-meters.

Watch this video for a getting started demonstration with the DIG-USB Output Module.

9890 Strain Gage Indicator

Our 9890 Strain Gage Indicator is a full-featured multipurpose and easy-to-use digital strain gage and load cell meter ideal for weight and force measurement applications. With a max current of 350 mA at 10 V, it can support up to twelve 350 Ω load cells (minimum load resistance of 28 Ω), making it ideal for multipoint weight measurement applications. It accepts mV input signals up to 300 mV (unipolar) and ± 250 mV (bipolar). The 9890’s powerful dual-scale capability allows the measurement to be displayed in two different units of measure.

This video provides an overview of the 9890 Strain Gage Indicator and how it works.

920i Programmable Weight Indicator/Controller

The Interface 920i instrumentation device is a programmable, multi-channel digital weight indicator and controller. The configuration can be performed using the front panel, with an attached USB-type keyboard (or PS/2 keyboard if using a serial interface), or by using the iRev 4 utility. Model 920i is bidirectional and comes in a NEMA 4X stainless enclosure. Standard options include 8,000,000 internal counts, 4.6 x 3.4-inch LCD 7-digit display and a measurement rate that goes up to 960 Hz. Options are available that allow you to include analog and relay outputs.

This video provides an easy-to-follow getting start guide for the 920i Programmable Weight Indicator/Controller.

These are just a few of the dozens of instrumentation solutions Interface offers, all designed for unique application needs.  For more information on Interface’s instruments, visit our web product page or review our product brochure for detailed specifications on every product.

Instrumentation Brochure

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