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Faces of Interface Featuring Robert Hawk

In today’s Faces of Interface feature, we spoke with Robert Hawk, director of information technology (IT). He is responsible for keeping Interface’s business operational using all kinds of hardware and software, which is core to our fundamental success.

Robert was our very first IT guru at the company and since joining the company and has helped modernize our systems to keep our operations running smoothly. We sat down with Robert to learn about his background and get some insight on everything he does for Interface, our customers, our partners, and global network.

Robert’s background in the world of information technology started with his time in United States Army. He spent his early years in the service with the Infantry. When looking for new opportunities and challenges for his career, he switched his military specialty to Communications and IT, and he then transitioned to the Wyoming Army National Guard.

During his time with the National Guard, Robert worked as an Admin NCO for the 115th Fires Brigade and the IT Department at the F.E. Warren Air Force Base Medical Center. While doing all this, he also continued his support of the Communications and IT section as a Wyoming Army National Guard soldier serving on weekends. Thank you for your service! He obtained two Master of Science graduate degrees, one in Computer Information Systems and one in Computer Engineering.

Robert’s transition to the private sector was as an outsourced IT consultant, serving customers in Wyoming and then Arizona. It was a demanding role that required long hours and some travel; however, it was a wonderful experience. He decided that he wanted to spend more time with his family, and this is when he found Interface.

Interface hired Rob as our first official IT guy in 2014. In fact, which was the name of the role at the time – IT Guy! In the eight years since Rob joined Interface, he has brought our technology light years forward to meet the demands of a growing and thriving manufacturing technology brand leader. The company’s investments in IT allowed Rob to modernize our infrastructure, systems and vastly improve our digital efficiency internally, and with customers. One example is our transition from Windows 95 to Windows 11. He and his team are now rolling out an entire ERP system that will create huge efficiencies and capabilities for the 54-year-old business.

His role at Interface includes managing a team of nine information technology people who are responsible for ensuring the business and production is running smoothly, all the time for a 24/7 business. He is committed to always staying on the lookout for innovative technologies to help streamline operations, support continuous improvements, and help stay on the forefront of ways to engage with all stakeholders. He is also keen to keeping Interface on the forefront of information security.

One thing that you will certainly learn from Rob is that he loves his work because he enjoys helping Interface in their role of helping our customers achieve remarkable things across a wide variety of applications.

Robert is a bit of a workaholic, so part of his free time includes learning, recertifying, and reading up on the newest technologies. He is definitely an IT guy through and through. When he gets some time away, his hobbies include giving back to the military community through charity work with veteran’s organizations. He also loves to ride his motorcycle. Most importantly, he spends time with his three kids aged 21, 19 and 12. In fact, the 19-year-old works for us here at Interface!

Robert is a critical member of Interface’s team, and we could not provide the outstanding technology solutions we do without his work on our digital systems. We thank him for his dedication to his craft and to Interface! What keeps him up at night, keeps us running all day!

 

Digital Instrumentation 101

Digital instrumentation used for test and measurement provides faster data input and output, and more robust analytics. Interface offers several types of digital instrumentation devices that transform load cell and strain bridge input into digital data output in numerous protocols and bus formats.

Instrumentation that utilizes analog output has long been the standard in the industry. As new requirements for use cases and applications grow, test and measurement engineers and professionals find digital instrumentation advantageous because of the lower cost, easy integration and scalability. They also like the advantage of daisy-chaining multiple sensors together on a single cable run.

Advancements in sensor technologies coincide with growing demands to gather more testing data. This is seen through the use of multi-axis sensors, along with requirements for multi-channel instrumentation that can integrate into existing systems already designed with specific digital connections and protocols, as highlighted in using Interfaces BX8 with our 6-Axis sensors. Change is also coming with a strong desire to utilize instrumentation that can easily work within cable free environments or in remote locations.

In addition to improving speed of data output, digital instrumentation offers an abundance of benefits. This is primarily due to the digital signal, as they are less susceptible to noise and are more secure. Digital instrumentation typically has built in error detection. Digital signals are best for transmitting signals across longer distances or when you need to allow for simultaneous multi-directional transmissions. Many people like the ease of integration, both into existing networks as well as with other testing devices.

Types of Interface Digital Instrumentation

  • Indicators and Bidirectional Indicators
  • Portable and Programmable Indicators
  • Battery Powered Indicators and Bidirectional Indicators
  • Single and Multi-Channel Transmitters
  • Controllers and Programmable Controllers
  • USB Output Modules
  • PC Interface Modules
  • Sensor to USB Output Converters
  • Data Acquisition Systems
  • Wireless Instrumentation

Connection options available for Interface Digital Instrumentation include, RS232, RS485, RS422, Wi-Fi, USB, Bluetooth, and Ethernet Protocols. The types of data output protocols available include ASCII, Modbus, CANopen, DeviceNet, Profibus DP Modbus/TCP, Ethernet TCP/IP, Ethernet/IP, EtherCAT and several others. See the complete list of connections and protocols in our Digital Instrumentation Overview.

Top selling digital instrumentation models from Interface, with many available in various protocols:

Do you have questions about the type of instrumentation that will support your application?  You can see more of the solutions by visiting our instrumentation selection guide.  Here are six questions begin evaluating your instrumentation options:

  • 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?

For additional help with instrumentation, please contact our application engineers.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Digital Instrumentation for Force Measurement

Ultimate BlueDAQ Software Guide for Interface Instrumentation

Interface Instrumentation Definitions

Instrumentation Selection Guide

Advancements in Instrumentation Webinar

Interface Instructional on Instrumentation Event

Instrumentation

Interface Instrumentation Definitions

The new Interface Instrumentation Selection Guide is a great way to get started in choosing the right instrumentation for your next project or lab. To serve as additional resources, here are key instrumentation definitions that can also help you make the best decision regarding the type and model of instrumentation that will work best with your sensor.

Instrumentation Selection Guide Definitions

Excitation
A Wheatstone bridge-based sensor, such as a load cell, requires excitation voltage to operate. The excitation voltage is typically 10V; however, many instruments supply lower voltage, an 2.5V, 5V, and others. Since these sensors are ratiometric, Interface instrumentation devices are designed to pair with these types of sensor products.

Signals
The output signal from a load cell is expressed in terms of mV output per V of excitation, at capacity. For example, a 100 lb capacity load cell rated for 2 mV/V output will have 20mV output at 100 lb, when excited with 10V. Because the output signal is directly affected by input voltage, it’s important to maintain a stable excitation voltage, which our instrumentation does.

Signal Conditioners
A signal condition provides stable excitation voltage to the sensor and amplifies the low-level sensor signal to a high-level output such as +/-5V, +/-10V, 0-20mA, 4-20mA, 0-5V, or 0-10V.
Many of our products include filtering, which can help reduce noise in the output signal.

Data Acquisition Systems
A complete data acquisition system consists of DAQ hardware, sensors and actuators, signal conditioning hardware, and a computer running DAQ software. Interface provides DAQ instrumentation that are ideal for completing a sensor-based system. Many data acquisition systems require high-level inputs such as +/-10V and don’t work very well with low level mV signals. Interface instrumentation solutions do work well with DAQ systems. The DAQ doesn’t necessarily supply a stable excitation voltage like the Interface sensors do.

Interface Modules
An interface module converts the low-level mV/V sensor signal to a digital format that can be transmitted to a computer, (PC or laptop). Popular interface modules provide USB, wireless USB, or Bluetooth data transmission. Software is normally provided and allows data display, logging and graphing. The interface modules are commonly used when data needs to be logged to computer and you are not using an existing data acquisition system. The interface module advantages over standard data acquisition is ease of use and they are normally plug-n-play. Considerations when selecting this type of instrumentation include bit resolution, number of channels, sample rate, software features and type of output.

Indicators
Interface indicators provide stable excitation voltage and converts the sensor signal to a digital display. Commonly available features include analog or digital output, selectable digital filtering, peak and valley monitoring and set point outputs. Things to consider when selecting an indicator are internal sample rate and update rate of analog output.

Wireless Telemetry System (WTS)
Wireless is very popular today. Interface’s Wireless Telemetry System is easy-to-use providing wireless data communication between a load sensor and a receiving indicator. The WTS is capable of receiving multiple inputs and is fully compatible will all Interface force sensors. The WTS comes calibrated, tested and ready-to-run. The charge lasts up to three months using AA batteries.  You can see the complete WTS and Bluetooth Telemetry System comparison here.

When selecting the type of instrumentation you need to pair with your measurement device, some additional things to consider are power supply requirements, amount of filtering, fixed or adjustable filtering, input range, scalability and zero adjustment range. Our instrumentation can accommodate these requirements. To get started on picking the instrumentation solution that fits your requirements, go to the Interface Instrumentation Selection Guide.

We’ve provided a quick visual reference of Interface’s instrumentation types and correlating models.

All Interface Instrumentation product details are listed by product model name. You can find product specifications, as well supporting datasheet for each product by going here.

 

Additional Resources

Instrumentation Analog Versus Digital Outputs

Introducing New Interface Instrumentation Selection Guide

Advancements in Instrumentation Webinar Recap

Recap of Inventive Multi-Axis and Instrumentation Webinar

Recap of Instructional on Instrumentation Webinar

Digital Instrumentation Brochure

Instrumentation Brochure

 

Advancements in Instrumentation Webinar Recap

Interface experts recently hosted a conversation about what is changing in the world of instrumentation, as it related to sensor technologies and force measurement.  The new event, Advancements in Instrumentation is a continuation of our ForceLeaders Interface Instructional on Instrumentation Event.

The conversation began with a focus on what has changed in the last five years and why instrumentation is such an important topic in T&M. 

TRENDS IN ADVANCED INSTRUMENTATION

The number one change in test and measurement that we have identified is the omnipresent use of sensors in things that didn’t use to have sensors. This includes consumer products, home healthcare medical devices, EVs, factory equipment, tools, robotics, just to name a few. With the demands for more feedback, more data, and more required performance monitoring, instrumentation requirements are growing in functionality. 

We are getting smarter in our applications and uses cases, which means we need smarter devices to capture all the information to make intelligent decisions in product design, engineering, and manufacturing. We see this with smart factories, smart vehicles, smart agriculture, smart tools, smart medical technologies, these innovations and advancements need more data to make smart decisions, in design, test, build and use.

Other trends we discussed include the infusion of IoT into test and measurement. As we connect more instruments and devices into our networks, it requires advanced instrumentation and changes in what has been used as basic and standard instruments in the past. We also see customization and programmability needs changing and movement towards more digital interfaces.  Specifically, during this hour-long discussion we dive into digital outputs, amplifiers, communication protocols and advancements in software options, including a quick MathScript demo. Watch the video here.

TYPES OF INSTRUMENTATION HIGHLIGHTED IN WEBINAR

  • Signal Conditioners
  • Data Acquisition Systems (DAQ) 
  • Indicators
  • USB Interface Modules
  • Wireless and Bluetooth Telemetry Systems
  • Portable
  • TEDS Ready

Interface highlighted a series of new instrumentation solutions in great detail. This includes recent releases like our BX8 DAQ Series, Wireless Telemetry System Additions, 9850 Torque and Load Cell Indicator and SI-USB4. We also shared what we are bringing to market this year, including new portable indicators, a DAQ systems designed specifically for torque transducers, advanced multi-channel solutions and new USB indicators for wireless sensors. We also talked about custom instrumentation solutions when you need something designed for a unique use case or OEM application.

Throughout the webinar, instrumentation selection criteria were highlighted to help make the right decisions in pairing your measurement devices to the available instrumentation options. We addressed common questions, do’s and don’ts, and tips that are helpful in evaluating what will work with your project, in your lab or at your factory.

ADVANCEMENTS IN INSTRUMENTATION WEBINAR TOPICS

  • Types of Advanced Instrumentation
  • Selection Criteria for Advanced Instrumentation
  • Recap Digital Versus Analog Options
  • What’s New in Wireless + Bluetooth Telemetry Systems 
  • New Instrumentation Solutions from Interface
  • Trends in Test Data Management + Systems
  • Applications + Uses Cases
  • FAQs

You can watch the entire conversation to learn more.

WHY INTERFACE FOR INSTRUMENTATION

With so many options available, we want to make it easier in choosing the right instrumentation. Here are a few reasons why Interface is a provider of choice when it comes to instrumentation for force measurement.

  • Interface is a single point of contact for measurement device and instrumentation
  • Interface offers a range of solutions from USB Interface Modules to Multi-Channel and Wireless DAQ Systems
  • Interface can partner to design and build complete systems
  • Interface has expertise for technical support
  • Interface has deep use case experience across all the sensors we offer, from load cells to wireless load pin technologies
  • Interface instructional videos, literature, software demonstrations and manuals available online in your Support area of the website
  • Interface provides software with our instrumentation

Additional Resources

Interface Instructional on Instrumentation Event

Recap of Inventive Multi-Axis and Instrumentation Webinar

Instrumentation Analog Versus Digital Outputs

Instrumentation Options in Test and Measurement

Force Measurement Instrumentation 101

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.

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 101

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.