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Trends in Torque Transducer Applications in the Auto Industry

Torque transducers are crucial in force measurement testing, especially in the automotive industry. A torque sensor is a transducer that converts a torsional mechanical input into an electrical output signal.

Interface’s experience suggests the automotive industry’s most frequently used torque transducers are rotary torque transducers, like our AxialTQ, which measure dynamic force. These transducers are necessary for applications where the torque transducer must rotate when attached to a spinning shaft. A rotary torque transducer provides a method of getting the signal off the rotating element without an attached cable.

Automotive testing labs also commonly use a fixed-style mount instead of a floating style. This is because fixed types are ideal for high-speed applications. Fixed and supportive mounting is often mandatory. Fixed mounts apply only to sensors with bearings, which involves attaching the sensor housing to fixed support for added stability.

Torque plays a critical role in automotive testing, and Interface has more than 50 transducer models with multiple capacities and sizes. Use our Torque Transducer Selection Guide to help define the suitable model for your specific application.

Interface will demonstrate the range of torque transducer solutions at the upcoming Auto Test Expo. You can get your free pass online.

Top Trends in Torque Transducer Applications

Torque transducers create faster, more efficient, and safer vehicles. Interface transducers are designed to meet the growing demands of the auto industry.

  • Interface recognizes the growing use of torque transducers to measure the performance of electric vehicles (EVs). Torque transducers are essential for testing the performance of their electric motors and powertrains. Torque transducers are used to measure the torque output of electric motors, which is critical for ensuring that they meet their performance specifications. Read Torque Measurement for Electric Vehicles.
  • Interface torque transducers are helping to assess advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) performance. ADAS systems rely on numerous sensors, including torque transducers, to measure and control the vehicle’s dynamics. Torque transducers measure the torque applied to the steering wheel and brakes, which ensures that ADAS systems function correctly.
  • Torque transducers measure the torque applied to the wheels, which ensures that autonomous vehicles can safely navigate their environment.

Torque transducers are essential research, design, testing, and manufacturing tools. As emerging automotive technologies evaluate new components, materials, and vehicle capabilities, torque transducers provide vital measurement data to assess performance. We see this in the use cases for torque transducers in all phases of developing autonomous and self-driving vehicles, including the transition to flying cars.

Automotive Applications Using Interface Torque Transducers

AxialTQ™ Engine Dynamometer

One of our customers needed to measure the torque and the speed (RPM) produced by an engine and calculate it simultaneously. Using the Interface AxialTQ Wireless Rotary Torque Measurement System, which was developed in direct collaboration with over 30 end-users who shared their wish lists for operational priorities, user interface, design, features, real-world field issues, and more, the customer was able to measure and calculate the torque and rotational speed (RPM) of the engine in real-time while collecting the data accurately and simultaneously.

Lug Nut Assembly

Proper lug nut assembly is critical to a quality vehicle and meeting strict quality and safety requirements. Interface’s customer wants to increase productivity for automobile wheel installation while ensuring the lug nuts are installed to the proper torque values for safety. Interface supplied five T33 Spindle Torque Transducers for use in the customer’s wheel installation assembly machine, which comes standard with +/-5VDC analog output for torque measurements and a 360 pulse, 2-track encoder for speed/angle measurement. The customer could perform five simultaneous torque measurements during wheel installation in seconds using this solution.  The T33 Spindle Torque Transducer provided a +/-5VDC signal for torque and a TTL signal for angle measurement to the customer’s control system for logging, evaluating, and recording the results.

Another important consideration for testing torque with these sensors is the coupling. Couplings are a critical component of the torque transducer that ensures the isolation of torque loads. Couplings should be used in all applications, and the selection of the coupling type is based on the speed of the application. For higher-speed applications, you will want to look for high-quality couplings. The coupling helps to prevent error and damage from extraneous loads. You can learn more about selecting the proper coupling in our new blog, Torque Transducers and Couplings are the Perfect Pairing.

Every industry segment has numerous priorities as they compete to design, engineer, build, and supply new and innovative vehicles. From the focus on the extreme performance of racing vehicles to the safety focus of consumer automobiles, Interface can provide force and torque measurement solutions to help you today and in the future.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Tire Force and Measurement

Fuel Pump Optimization & Rotary Torque

Engine Head Bolt Tightening

Dual Motor Dynamometer

Accelerating Automotive Excellence in the Test Lab

Force Measurement Solutions Demonstrations at Automotive Testing Expo

 

Insights in Torque Testing Featured in Quality Magazine

With the explosive growth in industrial automation and advanced manufacturing, torque measurement is a hot topic for test and measurement applications across a multitude of industries. We see demand rising due to the use in electric and autonomous vehicle testing, as well as in building components used in robotics and for spacecraft. Demand for torque transducers is so popular, Quality Magazine asked Interface’s product and custom solutions expert Keith Skidmore to contribute an article all about torque testing and how to get the most out of the transducer’s testing data.

Interface has a deep line of innovative torque transducers used where torque measurement is critical to the success of engineering and manufacturing products and components. We provide both an extensive array of standard transducers and custom torque solutions to be used in applications as large as rocket ships, to as small as measuring the torque on a bolt wrench.

Included below is a brief overview of Keith Skidmore’s contributed article in Quality Magazine outlining the basics of torque testing and providing examples of real-world applications of Interface products used to test and measure torque.

Getting The Most Out of Torque Testing

Torque is defined as the rotational equivalent of linear force. It’s a measure of how much a force acting on an object causes that object to rotate. This is one of the key measurements for engineers doing design, test, and manufacturing across a wide variety of industries where machines, vehicles, components and parts include a spinning or rotating motion. It’s critical to understand how to measure torque if you’re doing product development with these types of systems such as engines, crankshafts, gearboxes, transmissions, and rotors.

The incredibly wide variety of torque transducers, different types of devices and tests and the accompanying accessories necessary for different projects can make it difficult to determine what is needed for each individual application. For instance, torque tests are often used in the automotive industry to assess engine torque and speed, but the products used can differ between a typical gas vehicle and newly introduced electric vehicles. Torque is also frequently used to test the tightness of a variety of lug nuts and screws, which is an entirely different measurement solution.

This article provides a brief overview of the key considerations when planning for a torque test. It includes the different types of torque testing, the different torque sensor styles, accessories, mounts, and other tips and tricks. It also provides a brief overview of the potential applications of torque tests with pictures.

The article goes on to provide the basics of torque testing, as well as providing real world applications of torque test and measurement. Here is a preview of one of the applications included in Keith’s contribution to Quality Magazine. To read the article in its entirety, please click the link here.

Engine Dynamometer Testing

In this application example, a rotary torque transducer is used to measure the speed and torque of an engine. This rotary transducer can sense the torque of the engine with high precision and provide an electrical output that is converted from an analog to a digital signal. A rotary transducer is necessary due to the spinning element involved in the engine. It’s paired with a very high-quality coupling and is mounted in a fixed position. Both are necessary to account for the high speeds used in the test. This application would allow the user to measure both torque and speed of the engine simultaneously, which will provide valuable data in confirming the design of the engine or determining if it needs to be adjusted for the vehicle it will drive.

To see the range of torque products offered by Interface, download our Interface Torque Transducers brochure.

Additional Resources

New Twist on Torque Webinar

Torque Measurement for Electric Vehicles

Dental Handpiece Torque Check

OEM: Torque Verification

AxialTQ™ Wireless Rotary Torque Transducer

 

Interface Helps to Power the Electric Vehicle Market Forward

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

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

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

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

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

Torque Measurement for Electric Vehicles

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

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

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

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Advancing Auto Testing with Interface Measurement Solutions

Driving Force in Automotive Applications

Auto Industry Applications

Automotive and Vehicle

Torque Measurement for Electric Vehicles

Test and Measurement for Electric Vehicles

Advancing Auto Testing with Interface Measurement Solutions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Airbag Connector Testing

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

Seat Testing

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

Automotive Headrest Testing

When a manufacturer for automotive head rests wanted to test the durability of their products by conducting several fatigue tests and force tests on the head rests to make sure it meets durability and high-quality standards, Interface was able to help. The solution was to install Model 1000 Fatigue-Rated LowProfile™ Dual Bridge Load Cell to the customer’s actuator mechanism. This load cell is perfect for fatigue testing and reports highly accurate results through the fatigue cycling. The results are collected by using the SI-USB4 4-Channel USB Interface Module, which synchronizes the data directly from the load cell and the string pot (for measuring distance) to the customer’s computer. Using this system, the head rest manufacturer was able to get highly accurate data through the fatigue testing cycle. Watch the testing video in action!

 

Engine Dynamometer

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

For additional automotive solutions and use cases, go here.