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Examining Interface Aerospace Industry Solutions

Among the many industries Interface serves, the aerospace industry is one of the fastest growing users of our precision force measurement solutions. This is because ultra-accurate force, weight and torque measurements and data are critical to testing, performance and safety for airplanes, helicopters, and rockets.

Aerospace engineers and manufacturers of commercial, industrial, and military aerospace vehicles and associated components must measure multitudes of factors such as fatigue, structure durability, materials, weight distribution, drag, effects of inclement weather, velocity changes, thrust, and center of gravity to name a few.

Interface is synonymous with high performance sensors used for all types of test and measurement applications. For more than five decades, aerospace innovators and industrial giants have relied upon Interface to provide precision products and services they can trust.  Our test and measurement solutions are designed for use in the aerospace industry to withstand extreme conditions, whether they are for testing wings on commercial airplanes or used to measure the force of an intergalactic vessel launch.

Interface showcases products and use cases in our new aerospace solutions brochure detailing many the products and custom solutions we provide to the industry. We provide an overview of our accurate and reliable lineup of force measurement products, as well as highlighting various application examples to outline different ways we have long served the makers, builders, testers and engineers across the diverse aerospace industry.

To work in the aerospace industry, you have to meet the highest quality industry requirements in manufacturing and calibration. We take our commitment towards quality assurance very seriously and guarantee our products meet or exceed the quality clauses outlined by the International Organization of Standardization (ISO). We test and calibrate all products we build in a certificated lab based in Arizona that holds A2LA, International Standard ISO/IEC 17025:2017 and ANSI/NCSL Z540-1- 1994 accreditations. The strict adherence to these standards demonstrates our technical competence for a defined scope and the operation of a laboratory quality management system. Every Interface manufactured sensor goes through rigorous testing and calibration before it’s released to our customers.

The sensors, instrumentation, and accessories we supply to aerospace equipment manufacturers and testing labs range from mini to jumbo load cells, torque transducers, multi-axis sensors, and various wireless, digital and analog instrumentation devices. Interface sensors have been used regularly in the engineering and testing of military aircraft, missiles, space, commercial airliners, and for general aviation components as demonstrated in this aerospace and defense industry case study.

One aerospace use case of our force sensors is for structural testing. Interface LowProfile™ Load Cells are utilized for structural static and fatigue testing. Our moment and temperature compensated load cells use proprietary alloy strain gages for extreme accuracy and reliability. Using eight proprietary strain gages per sensor, our 4mV/V output well exceeds the performance. These load cells are offered in single, dual, and triple bridge configurations for different data acquisition and control requirements in aerospace vehicle production.

The range of aircraft and space vehicles that use Interface solutions include all types from unpowered gliders to commercial and military aircraft, as well as rockets, missiles, drones, launch vehicles, and spacecraft. These vehicles go through extensive and rigorous test and measurement programs and processes requiring the reliability and accuracy of Interface made products. Here are a few types of aerospace applications using Interface measurement solution:

Aircraft Wind Fatigue

Aircraft Wing FatigueBefore any of the U.S. Navy’s F/A-18 twin-engine supersonic fighter jets can be put into operation, the wings of the aircraft must undergo fatigue testing in a controlled environment to ensure that they are capable of withstanding the forces that will be encountered during real-world flight throughout the lifetime of the aircraft. Highly accurate measurements must be recorded in order to make sure that a near-exact replication of in-flight conditions are being achieved. During fatigue tests, Interface’s 1248 Standard Precision Flange LowProfile Load Cells are installed in line with the hydraulic cylinders, which apply back-and-forth loading forces to the aircraft. This is carried out over the course of 18 months to simulate in-flight stresses and strains on the wings. Load cells are connected to indicators, which record output. Capable of withstanding more than 100 million (1×108) fully reversible load cycles, Interface’s LowProfile Fatigue-Rated Load Cells have performed flawlessly in F/A-18 wing testing with zero recorded failures in the many years that testing facilities around the world have been using them.

Rescue Helicopter Hoist Test

When a customer wanted to test the strength of the cable line used in the hoist of their helicopter during rescue missions and situations, see if both the cable and the hoist can withstand a heavy load safely, and for long periods of time while the helicopter is in flight, they turned to Interface. We supplied a WTSSHK-D Wireless Crosby™ Load Shackle, which is attached to each mooring cable in use. Results are sent to the customers through the WTS-BS-4 USB Industrial Base Station when connected to the customer’s supplied computer. Data can also be transmitted to the WTS-BS-1-HS Handheld Display for Single Transmitters, giving the customer the option to view mooring cable line tension. Using this solution, the customer was able to add a heavy load to the end of the helicopter hoist, to ensure it is strong and safe enough to carry both rescue personnel and objects while being in midair.

The aerospace industry is responsible for some of the greatest inventions and innovation in our global history. The engineering and manufacturing of a single rocket engine design, using handwritten calculations and with less computing power than a modern smartphone, took us to the moon. The aerospace industry is an assembly of researchers, design houses, test labs and manufacturing companies that engineer and build vehicles to travel within and beyond Earth’s atmosphere using Interface products. Whether you need a million-pound jumbo load cell, custom load pin, or wireless instrumentation, we understand aerospace requirements and our engineers are on stand-by to assist. Get your copy of our new Aerospace Solutions Brochure here.

Additional Resources

Solutions Provider for Aerospace & Defense

Exploring Aerospace Force Measurement Solutions

Interface Displays Force Measurement Aerospace Applications at Space Tech Expo

Aerospace and Defense Industry Solutions

Interface Recognized as Contributor to Human Flight Success

Testing the Reins

Think of nearly any piece of hardware, especially those with moving components, and chances are a force measurement device was used in its development and testing.

Interface supplies load cells, torque transducers, load pins, tension links, and data acquisition devices utilized in testing hardware components for automobiles, drones, rocket engines, medical devices, bridges, watercraft, and everything in-between including for horses.

The applications for our products grow broader every year, so much so that we are rarely surprised with the ingenuity and innovation abound. There are no limitations, including in the equipment utilized in core agriculture markets, which comprises of products used in the equine industry.

In one customer’s project, were able to provide valuable sensor technology for a test and measurement project for products used with horses. Included below is a brief preview of the two new applications notes we developed based on the specific requirements for this equine industry design.

A customer came to Interface needing to quantify the poll pressure on the bridle of a horse. We created a solution using both a Wireless Telemetry System (WTS) and a Bluetooth® Telemetry System (BTS) Equine Bridle Tension System, with two SMA Miniature S-Type Load Cells in both the line of the reins and that of the cheekpiece on one side of the horse to study the dynamic response of the cheekpiece tension to rein tension in the ridden horse. Utilizing the WTS or BTS, the valuable data can be displayed and recorded in real time.

Within the real experimental system these sensors were used to test the tension resulting from the rider’s hands, the horse’s mouth and the bit, the elasticity of the equine mouth provides a “floating” fulcrum and a potential source of time-lag and decoherence between the dynamic rein and cheekpiece tensions. Because the cheekpiece is directly attached to the headpiece, we we’re able to assume that forces seen in the cheekpiece are those that are applied to the poll of the horse.

Want to learn more about this agriculture industry solution?  Be sure to read the Equine Industry WTS and BTS Bridle Tension System application notes.

Load Button Load Cells 101

Manufactured devices, technology advancements and product designs are getting smaller and smaller as innovations demand less space to do more for their consumers. As engineers are designing products with miniaturized components, they also need high quality test and measurement solutions that produce accurate results within these smaller testing spaces.

Interface has created a series Load Button Load Cells to meet these exact requirements. These load buttons are designed and manufactured to specifically fit into small and confined spaces, providing the precision-based measurements as expected from larger load cells.

Interface Load Button Load Cells are compact strain gauge-based sensors used in a wide variety of applications, including test and measurement and for general measurement applications. Interface standard LBM and LBS Load Button Load Cells can fulfill the need for compression force measurements at a very respectable precision level for most applications.

Product diameters range from 1 inch to 3 inches, with heights from 0.39 inch to 1.5 inches. The shaped load button load cell has a spherical radius to help confine misaligned loads to the primary axis of the cell. And while these products are small, they are capable of measuring compression forces from 10 lbf all the way to 50,000 lbf. The spherical radius of our Load Cell Load Buttons also help to confine misaligned loads to the primary axis of the cell.

Interface Load Button Load Cells 

Interface’s Custom Solutions Team and Product Engineers can also help to design a specific size and capacity to fit our customer’s exact requirements. Let us know what you need by contacting us here.

Load Button Load Cells Functionality and Proper Use

Applications that use compression loads on load button load cells requires an understanding of the distribution of forces between surfaces of various shapes and finishes.

The first and most important rule is to always avoid applying a compression load flat-to-flat from a plate to the top surface of a load button hub. The reason for this is simple, it’s impossible to maintain two surfaces parallel enough to guarantee that the force will end up being centered on the primary axis of the load button load cell. Any slight misalignment, even by a few micro-inches, could move the contact point off to one edge of a hub, thus inducing a large moment into the measurement.

Minor misalignments merely shift the contact point slightly off the centerline. In addition to compensating for misalignment, the use of a load button load cell of the correct spherical radius is necessary to confine the stresses at the contact point within the limits of the materials. Generally, load button load cells and bearing plates are made from hardened tool steel, and the contacting surfaces are ground to a finish of 32µ inch RMS. If you use too small of a radius it will cause a failure of the material at the contact point, and a rough finish will result in galling and wear of the loading surfaces.

Interface Load Button Load Cells in the Real World 

The evolving world of technology and product design has created a high demand for these types of small and accurate testing equipment. Innovative industries are looking at new ways to fit more capabilities into a single device that is the same size or even smaller. OEM applications that require this type of testing equipment include medical devices, drones, industrial automation, packaging and robotics.

We have highlighted a few examples of how Interface Load Button Load Cells have been used in the medical industry to solve complex challenges related to measuring compression force in confined spaces.

Measuring Vascular Clamp Force

A customer in the medical industry wanted to test various types of vascular clamps to see which type would generate the best clamping force for surgery. Using a Model LBS Load Cell, the clamps were secured onto the compression button. A Model 9330 High Speed Data Logging Indicator provided compression force measurements and allowed the customer to determine the most appropriate clamp type. Read the full application use case here.

Optimizing Surgical Stapler Force

Another customer needed to optimize the design of their surgical stapler to make it easier and more efficient for a medical professional to use. The original equipment manufacturer mounted the surgical stapler onto a test rig to enable force verification, and then connected a Model LBMU Compression Load Cell Button to a Model 9890 Load Cell Indicator. The indicator would collect compression force data from the stapler, and that data was then analyzed to allow the OEM to determine the design changes needed to reduce the amount of force applied to use the stapler.  Learn more about this application here.

For more information on our expanding lineup of Load Button Load Cells, see the overview below. In addition, say tuned in to the IQ Blog for an exciting announcement about new Interface Load Button Load Cell technology.  Most standard Load Button Load Cells are available to ship within 2 business days. Contact us for more information or visit our QS48 now.

Click here to see the full line of Load Button Load Cells.  

Evolving Urban Mobility Sector for Test and Measurement

Every day it seems we are inching closer to the Jetson’s utopia of flying cars, floating cities and robot butlers. Technology is evolving to the point where robotics and computers control most aspects of travel and mobility. That requires a lot of testing and dependency on accurate measurements for what is on the road and what is flying up above.

Interface has been long been working with leading manufacturers and suppliers of all types of vehicles traveling on the ground, across the skies, and into aerospace. As innovations are removing old boundaries, one thing that remains constant is the need for test and measurement programs.

In the urban mobility sector, we are seeing growth related to rigorous T&M projects for everything from autonomous vehicles to manned rockets, as well as unmanned aircrafts and drones. Interface is proud to be a solutions provider to the engineers and innovators of these growing applications and sectors.

Arizona, the home to Interface’s headquarters, is considered a hub for new technologies and inventions in urban mobility, including autonomous automobiles, alternative-fueled vehicles, rockets and unmanned vehicles. There are dozens of companies with testing and research facilities located throughout Arizona, with countless self-driving vehicles testing and mapping streets throughout the state. In fact, the Institute for Automated Mobility (IAM) in partnership with Intel, Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University, University of Arizona, and other public and private organizations, is collaborating on state-of-the-art research in Arizona. The goal of IAM is to advance all aspects of autonomous vehicles from science to safety to policy.

Nearly every company currently testing and innovating autonomous vehicle technology in Arizona is a customer of Interface. We are providing everything from instrumentation to torque transducers, along with a large range of our standard precision load cells for all types of testing projects. Our custom solutions team also has been working with leaders in these markets.

Being on the forefront as a solutions provider for this sector gives us visibility into many of the applications. What we have learned is demand is related to advancing urban mobility to solve for increasing congestion and diminishing inner-city air quality. The 2019 Urban Mobility Report published by The Texas A&M Transportation Institute with cooperation from INRIX notes:

“Connected vehicles “talking” to each other, such as traffic signals and other systems, and providing this information to decision‐makers will provide unprecedented data and insights to identify and fix mobility problems. Newer model vehicles sense and adjust to their surroundings, increasing the safety and efficient movement of goods and people. Other technologies, such as The Internet of Things (IoT), 3D printers, Blockchain, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) will impact transportation systems of the future.”

As technology leads the way in urban mobility, the safety and performance of the vehicle are of utmost importance. There is no room for failure. The point is, the advancement of robotics, sensor technology, and computing power are becoming a driving factor behind a fully autonomous world in terms of how people and products move about the world.

Another area of increased T&M product demand at Interface is coming from the application of our force measurement products for moving objects in unmanned vehicles above ground. The advancement of drone technology for commercial purposes is seen through the adoption across diverse applications such as mapping, logistics, and surveillance. Interface load cell technologies have been used for flight and wing testing, load testing and a variety of force measurement projects. The drone market, for commercial applications,  is expected to grow to more than $7B through 2022.

Interface is well known throughout key global industries as the premier manufacturer of the most accurate and reliable force measurement products on the market. For urban mobility, accuracy is critical to maintaining safe, pilot and driverless, vehicles and with the advancement of high-quality robotics.

Our load cells and torque transducers are used to test and measure key data points such as balance and weight distribution, thrust and lift, and to optimize movement on robotic arms and legs.

Here are a couple of application examples where Interface is providing critical components to advance innovation in urban mobility

Aerospace and Defense

The aerospace and defense industries are among the earliest adopters of urban mobility technology. The defense sector has utilized drones for surveillance, tactical advantage and battle since the advent of the technology. Aerospace manufacturers have also implemented autonomy into many of their commercial and defense planes. Interface has been a longtime partner of the aerospace and defense sector, working with some of the largest OEM’s across the U.S., as well as internationally. Some of the capabilities of our products in the aerospace and defense industry include thrust tests, wing and fuselage balance, weight distribution and fatigue testing, landing gear tests and parcel delivery weight testing for drones.

Automotive

In the automotive industry, autonomous vehicles have been a critical focus for the past 10 years. The technology really exploded onto the scene over the past five years with key players like Google, Tesla, GM, and others making significant investments in the development and testing of autonomous vehicles. Interface products are used by most of the major automobile OEM’s throughout the world. In 2018, we released one of our most advanced products to date, the Axial TQ™, which includes capabilities uniquely designed for autonomous vehicle testing. Our services in automotive include bolt fastening, brake pedal force testing, engine torque testing and more.

Here are a couple of application notes and a case study that outlines how Interface products are used in this sector:

As the urban mobility sector continues to grow, more advanced travel and delivery systems will require precise weight and torque testing to ensure unwavering reliability. The less control humans have over land and air vehicles, the more we need to trust the construction and design of these vehicles using proper force testing. Interface will continue to grow as a key player in the space as more OEM’s turn to our services to optimize the development of drones, autonomous vehicles, and other urban mobility innovations.

Contributor: Kim Williams, Interface Business Development Manager