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Envisioning the Future of Force Measurement

It is estimated that the force measurement sensor industry market, which includes strain gages and load cells, is valued at $2 billion annually. This is a result of the diverse amount of application uses for these types of sensors, whether embedded into an OEM product or for use in test and measurement. With innovations pushing product designers, this segment of the overall sensor market is growing rapidly from the advancements in robotics, semiconductors, automotive, aerospace and defense.

In these areas of growth, Interface continues to focus on the manufacturing and sales of precision force measurement products. For 52 years, Interface remains the leader in accuracy and quality. There are no plans to change that focus. What is changing is the market place and opportunities for using precision sensor technology of all sizes and capacities, whether that be for electronic vehicle testing or industrial automation, launching spacecraft or introducing new robots.

The way we develop force measurement products is continually evolving. It is our responsibility to understand trends in the engineering, testing and manufacturing, as well as identifying customer needs, in order to develop new force measurement innovations for today and into the future.

Technology is moving at a fast pace, and it’s imperative that companies like us rise to meet the demand for new innovations to solve modern and future design and testing challenges. In last week’s blog, we detailed our product development process and our evolution over the years to meet these demands. Product development has grown from a process to something that we engage in every day, especially in the customization of our standard products as well as introduction of new solutions.

The voice of our customer is instrumental in defining this development journey. We learn about new trends and opportunities for expanding our product line by listening to our customers and team members. At Interface, we know that in order to continue building upon our half-century legacy, it’s critical to keep an open mind to new solutions and continually learn how our customer’s industries are evolving too.

Interface recently had the opportunity to contribute article to two different publications that outlined our thoughts on the trends in force measurement. We were able to lean on our entire team to discover what they believe is the future of our industry. It was not only a fun exercise to take a step back and look into the future, but it was also encouraging because we realized that many of these trends are things that Interface has placed a heavy focus on in our strategic plans for the months and years to come.

Included below are links and a quick synopsis of recent articles by Interface ForceLeadersthat were published in Machine Design Magazine and Metrology News.

Machine Design Magazine: 2020 Trends in Force Measurement Sensors

Until about 10 years ago, the force test and measurement industry had been fairly unimaginative. It had developed a standard way of building analog load cells, torque transducers and other devices, and it worked for many years. However, as most of the rest of the technological world advanced and big data changed the way engineers and manufacturers work, this age-old force measurement analog technology stood out with no way to improve data collection or make it more efficient.

The digital revolution has pushed load cell manufacturers to look around and think about how customers develop products and how factories and production lines operate. Here are some of the trends force-measurement companies must get in line with or risk disappearing, as defined by Keith Skidmore, Regional Sales Director at Interface. Click here to read more

Metrology News: The Future of Force Measurement

The rise of the Internet-of-Things (IoT) and “Big Data” has had a tremendous impact on almost every industry, including force measurement. Up until about ten years ago, the industry had remained steady and predictable. There was a standard way of building load cells using analog technology that was widely accepted, and they served their purpose well. In this article Ted Larson, VP Product Management and Marketing at Interface explains the industries recent transition and what lays ahead. Read more here.

Interface will continue to remain future-focused in an effort to serve our clients force measurement needs for now and beyond. If you are interested in learning more about custom solutions or new applications, contact us here.

Faces of Interface Featuring Scott Dunne

A critical factor of becoming a successful engineer is becoming proficient at working with your hands. For Scott Dunne, Production Engineering Manager at Interface, training his brain and perfecting the use of his hands has been a passion since childhood and helped to elevate his role in the design and manufacturing of Interface’s leading force measurement products.

Growing up, Scott’s grandmother worked for Western Electric where she made telephones. From time-to-time, she would bring home parts or fully assembled phones for him to take apart and put back together. This simple example of bonding moments with his grandma fueled his desire for a career in engineering.

After high school, Scott attended the Newark College of Engineering (now known as NJIT) to pursue a degree in engineering. He was successful in earning a Bachelor of Science in industrial engineering and went on to start his career in the automotive industry with Adrionics.

At Adrionics, he assembled cables for harnesses that stretched from the back of the car radio to the steering column, most of which was done by hand. He worked there for a few years before moving into the power supply industry. While working at RTE Power-Mate, Scott made high-volume power supplies for the gaming industry. He later worked at TDI Power where he focused on low-volume, high-reliability power supplies for numerous industries.

After nearly 10 years in the power supply industry, Scott joined Ohaus Corporation, a manufacturer of digital scales and load cells. This was his first job in the force measurement industry and he quickly developed an enthusiasm for it. Scott rose through the ranks and eventually became the manufacturing engineering manager. When a major conglomerate purchased Ohaus, Scott was selected to help move the production line from New Jersey to Changzhou.

After an 18-month assignment in China, Scott returned to the U.S. and he and his wife decided it was time for a change, including a move out of the cold and into a warmer environment. He and his family moved to Scottsdale, Arizona, where he pursued a career with Interface because a former co-worker handed him a catalog from the company before he left New Jersey.

His experience building load cells made him the perfect fit for Interface and he was hired as an operations manager overseeing the production line in January 2000. After 14 years in this position, Scott became the product supply manager where he supervised Interface’s supply chain. As the Production Engineering Manager today, he is helping in the training and onboarding of Interface team members by sharing his depth of knowledge and experience in working with load cell technology.  He recently conducted a Load Cell 101 training for team members, which was sold out during every session.

“Ever since I began my career in engineering, I have been fascinated with the entire production and even sales process. One of the best things about working at Interface as a production engineer, I have a hand in everything from the start of the design to the final manufacturing of a variety of load cell and force measurement technologies. With this responsibility, I have the distinctive opportunity to learn more from a sales perspective in team meetings as to what our clients need today and even in the future. My position allows me to do what I love while expanding my knowledge of our industry.” Scott Dunne, Production Engineering Manager, Interface

In his free time, Scott continues to work with his hands doing woodworking. He is also a self-described “hockey nut,” and follows the New Jersey Devils and Phoenix Coyotes closely. He enjoys watching and attending games with his family.

Faces of Interface is an ongoing series shining a spotlight on Interface’s talented team members across the organization. Scott recently contributed a great post, Strain Gages 101. To follow Faces of Interface and to stay up-to-date on the company, please visit www.interfaceforce.com/blog/ and subscribe to the posts and newsletter.

Strain Gages 101

A strain gage is a sensor that varies its resistance as it’s stretched or compressed. When tension or compression is applied, the strain gage converts force, pressure, and weight into a change that can then be measured in the electrical resistance.

At the heart and soul of every load cell is a strain gage. This is the pinnacle technology that allows engineers to collect and analyze force data. In the industry, it is known as force measurement.

Strain gages are made through a photo-etch process using a flexible backing and a very thin foil. The way a strain gage works is when the backing and foil stretches or compresses, resistance goes up and down respectively. We know this as force. Think of stretching like a three-lane highway switching to two lanes, and vice versa for compression with two lanes going into three. As the load cell’s internal strain gage experiences force, it sends a signal with a precise measurement of the amount of force it’s experiencing.

There are many different types of strain gages for a variety of environments and force measurement needs. The major difference in strain gages is the base material used in the manufacturing process. Different materials are used when a load cell needs to perform optimally in a variety of temperatures, humidity levels, and elevations. Matching the correct strain gage and a load cell to the customer’s needs is critical to accuracy.

“Here at Interface, we pride ourselves on developing the most accurate force measurement tools, and it starts with our proprietary manufacturing of the strain gage.”  Scott Dunne, Production Engineering Manager

More than 52 years ago, when our founder Richard F. Caris started Interface, he purchased over a mile of foil, which is the base material used in strain gages. Caris understood the only way to ensure Interface customers received quality results from their force measurement products was to control every aspect of engineering design, product development, and production.

The key ingredient to our precision accuracy and reliability is the fact that we have vertically integrated the entire manufacturing process from design to production and have a deep understanding of the materials necessary to suit every client’s need for optimal results

Many load cell makers purchase their strain gages from a third party. This means there’s more variability in their manufacturing process and you often find the variances in their materials clash and diminish the accuracy, or they are not correctly suited for the customer’s project requirements.  Interface makes all their own strain gages.

We have learned everything there is to know about strain gage manufacturing and can guarantee the quality of our load cells in any environment based on this tenured expertise and having manufactured and calibrated hundreds of thousands (ok, millions) of force measurement devices. And here’s a fun fact, although we’ve manufactured hundreds of thousands of load cells and strain gages, we haven’t even used half of the original mile of foil we purchased in 1968. Good product managed well can go a long way!

For more information on Interface’s commitment to accuracy and reliability, we have written The Load Cell Field Guide, the definitive resource on load cells. It is available on Amazon. You can also download our latest technical white paper, Contributing Factors to Load Cell Accuracy, for free by clicking here.

Contributor:  Scott Dunne, Production Engineering Manager, Interface

Advanced Testing with Telemetry Systems from Interface

In product development, flexibility is a crucial facet of creating efficient workflows. Having a diverse set of flexible tools and testing instruments allows engineers and manufacturers to approach their work from a wide variety of angles and environments.

Interface is keenly aware of the growing demand for manufacturers and integrators to have advanced systems that easily replace hard-wired systems, reducing installation and maintenance costs. Based on these needs, Interface offers a variety of off-the-shelf and custom force measurement wireless solutions, in multiple capacities, capabilities, ranges, and dimensions for all types of applications.

Case in point is Interface’s two advanced telemetry systems, the Interface Wireless Telemetry System (WTS) and the new Interface Bluetooth® Telemetry System (BTS). These telemetry systems transmit high-quality data from load cells to single and multiple devices. Both the WTS and the BTS offer a wide variety of benefits, including high accuracy, high resolution, IP-rated enclosures, and multiple configuration options. The quality of Interface load cell performance is fully realized utilizing the convenience of these systems, which are acting as a data bridge between the load cell and a display device.

The WTS and BTS products are designed to provide OEMs, labs, and engineers with flexibility in where and how they conduct product testing using load cells. The WTS was designed for a controlled lab environment or engineering facility with access to Wi-Fi® or ethernet data. The BTS solution was created to allow for field testing in areas with little to no access to the internet. Included below is a more in-depth breakdown of the features of Interface’s industry-leading telemetry systems.

WTS-BS-4 Wireless Base Station with USBWireless Telemetry System (WTS)

The WTS is a high-speed, modular system that allows for data collection from long ranges. It is powerful and easily expandable for measuring multiple sensor types and can connect with up to 100 sensors within a half-mile range. The device is supported by powerful configuration software with data logging and visualization for local or remote access. It comes in a wide variety of different model types, including integrated transmitter models, repeater models, output models, display models and antenna models. It can connect with up to 100 sensors up-to a half a mile range.

To see the range of wireless WTS products, go to /product-category/wireless-telemetry-system.

Bluetooth® Telemetry System (BTS)

The BTS features high measurement resolution, which produces a noise-free resolution of 1 in 92,000 counts (16.5 bit) when used with a 3mV/V sensor and 1 in 184,000 counts (17.5 bit) when used with a 6mV/V sensor. The system also allows for advert format and encoding as well as details on connected services to facilitate simple integration of the device within custom apps for OEM applications. BTS can connect up to 12 sensors to a single mobile device or to multiple mobile devices.

The premium advantage of the BTS, above the long battery life, low cost and mobile apps visualization resources, is its ability to connect directly to mobile devices to collect data on-the-go without an internet connection. This allows engineers to complete field testing in remote locations or hard to access areas. Free iOS and Android apps are available for download and enable users to create dashboards with varying degrees of detail based on application requirements. The BTS output can be visualized on phones and tablets by using digital displays, gages, tanks, and charts.

To learn more about the new Bluetooth Telemetry System (BTS) offered by Interface, go to /products/instrumentation/bts-bluetooth-telemetry-system.

For more information on Interface’s WTS and BTS products read below.  You can access a detailed spec sheet comparing the products along with individual datasheets online by registering online at Interface.com.

WTS BTS Brochure

 

Faces of Interface Featuring Raymunn Machado-Prisbrey

Raymunn Machado-Prisbrey has spent his entire professional career at Interface. His first job was right out of high school, where he was hired to work on the assembly line at night. During the day he attended Arizona State University as a full-time student and after four years graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering.

After graduating, Raymunn was a shoo-in for an engineering job at Interface as he was already well-versed on all the products and knew all the people. He has held his current job as a Production Engineer for four years and continues to grow in his role.

His connection with Interface started long before he joined the company. It’s generational. While he was growing up, his dad worked at Interface and regularly brought him to company picnics and events. He got to know several of his father’s co-workers who would eventually become his own teammates. It’s this family atmosphere that Raymunn enjoys the most.

“The people are what make this job great.” Raymunn Machado-Prisbrey

Raymunn was always drawn to engineering and he knew right away that he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps. He has a persistent fascination for how things work and enjoyed helping his dad work on cars and ATVs. He loved school and was gifted at math. Pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering was a natural fit and working at Interface aligns with his goals of personal development and life-long learning.

In his current role, Raymunn works closely with the sales team to help turn customer requirements into reality. He designs load cells and helps in the entire process of their creation. He also handles the calibration and electrical adapters for load cells, an area he earned a unique perspective from working on the calibration floor out of high school. He strives to make a positive impact on the production personnel’s job with each new design since he’s been on both the production and engineering sides of the manufacturing business.

While Raymunn is very proud of several of the projects that he has worked on while at Interface, he notes that designing custom load cells for the Giant Magellan Telescope was the coolest. The lens on the telescope itself was 8.4 meters, an incredible feat in engineering and a unique challenge for Interface.

Raymunn loves the strategic aspect of his role. He likes collaborating with a team to solve customer problems. Many of his other favorite projects relate to unique customer circumstances, where he had to think outside the box to come up with the best solution. Load cells going on mountaintops in Chile, load cells that needed to withstand a huge temperature swing, custom load cell geometry and load cells that needed to exist in a vacuum were some of the examples he cites. Raymunn loves a challenge, and it is this aspect of his job that keeps him constantly engaged and inspired.

When not working at Interface, Raymunn is an avid backpacker and loves to camp and get away from the city. He enjoys four-wheeling, target-shooting, and mountain biking. Basically, anything that involves exploring the outdoors. He also loves to travel and has recently visited Germany and Mexico with several additional trips in the works.

Faces of Interface Featuring Joey Cavale and Nick Siegel

The key to keeping a company cutting-edge and innovative is ensuring there is a healthy balance of experienced professionals, mixed with an injection of new talent. One of the primary reasons Interface remains headquartered in Arizona is because of the diverse pool of skilled labor derived from its strong base of manufacturing companies, along with the aspiring minds coming from science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) higher education institutions.

Interface is keen to find a good balance in our staff with broad variances of expertise, experience, skills, and capabilities. Throughout the Faces of Interface blog series, we have featured some of our experienced experts and masters of their crafts. Today, we are highlighting two of our newest members of our engineering team: Nick Siegel and Joey Cavale.

Nick and Joey are both manufacturing engineers who are at the beginning of their professional careers. Nick graduated from the University of Arizona in 2016 and has been with Interface for more than two years. Joey graduated in 2018 from Fort Lewis College in Colorado and has been with Interface for less than a year.

Both engineers had a similar career path. Nick grew up with a passion for science in grade school and eventually went on to explore engineering late in his high school career and throughout college. During a four-month period working as a mechanical engineer for InterLink Engineering, he also contracted for Interface. After spending just a few weeks working with Interface, he was hired as a design draftsman, responsible for creating 3D models and technical drawings in SolidWorks.

Joey was a curious child who enjoyed taking things apart and putting them back together, especially watches. After exploring engineering in his junior year of high school, he went on to pursue a general engineering degree. Cavale joined Interface as an intern, and shortly after the internship ended, he was hired full-time to join the engineering team.

Siegel and Cavale both demonstrate enthusiasm and a strong commitment to continuous learning in their work at Interface. They work on a number of different projects side-by-side with experienced engineers and masters in force measurement. This work environment enables them to increase their skillsets across multiple disciplines.

“I have friends that work at larger Fortune 500 companies and enjoy their time, but I don’t think they are getting the same diverse and hands-on experience that I’m getting at Interface.” Joey Cavale

Both engineers enjoy the tight-knit and open team culture at Interface. They both noted they appreciate the opportunity to converse with the company leaders while getting coffee in the morning, which isn’t as easy to do at bigger companies.

Because they are both eager to develop and master new skills, there is a great deal of opportunity to learn in their day-to-day activities. They also provide fresh eyes and an eagerness to explore automation and offer new approaches, which is core to the company value: imagination.

“As one of the youngest members of the company, I’m often called upon to try out and become familiar with ‘new toys’ like the new machines Interface purchases to advance our engineering and automate production including robotics and 3D printers.” Nick Siegel

Asked about what they would tell their younger peers about a career in engineering, they both remarked that starting their professional career in a small-to-medium-sized business is smart because of the abundance of opportunities to expand skills and truly make an impact.

Interface is hiring! To learn more about job opportunities and internships at Interface, visit our careers page.

Our Greatest Resource is Our Team Members

Labor Day is important to Interface. It is our time to celebrate our most valuable resource, our talented team members. We appreciate every single person that has been part of our 51-year-old history. They are what makes us thrive, each and every day.

Our talent is diverse in skills and experience. It takes a wide range of resources to design and build the best precision force solutions in the market place.

At Interface, we are proud of the work we do and the products we provide our clients. Our force measurement tools and technology are recognized as the Gold Standard for accuracy and reliability, because of the hundreds of top-notch engineers, production team members, sales and application engineers, administrators, partners, reps, and distributors, who pour their heart and soul into their work.

On any given day, you can find our experts keenly soldering strain gages, calibrating every load cell, shipping crates of our LowProfile load cells, meeting with clients to design new OEM solutions, engineering new products and supporting our internal and external customers from our headquarter office. It takes a vast group of committed team members to do what we do, and do it well. And that is worth celebrating this Labor Day!

Our employees have been able to achieve success at such a high level because of our focus on the core values we use to define ourselves: ownership, integrity, imagination, and accountability. It’s ingrained in our culture and what we strive to represent throughout the organization.

These values dictate the way our teams interact with clients and one another, and it guides the success of our product development and R&D efforts. There are a shared vision and a common goal which makes collaboration and innovation easier, which helps us to promote a great place to work.

As a premium supplier to the critical infrastructure projects, the aerospace and defense markets, we are also happy to avowal that Interface products are “Made in America.” We take pride in leveraging American labor and contributing our economic success to the U.S. GDP. The National Association of Manufacturing (NAM) presented the following facts on the state of U.S. manufacturing, and Interface is an integral contributor to these milestones:

NAM Facts (Source):

  • Manufacturers contributed $2.38 trillion to the U.S. economy in the fourth quarter of 2018
  • Over the past 28 years, U.S.-manufactured goods exported have quadrupled
  • Manufacturers in the U.S. export nearly half of U.S. manufacturing output
  • Taken alone, manufacturing in the U.S. would be the eighth-largest economy in the world

America’s manufacturing labor force turned America into a powerhouse in the mid-1800s. They started the industrial revolution and became the backbone to American success throughout the next 150 years. It’s critical to our country’s future to celebrate and support manufacturing and labor.

We invite you to check back in every month and read our Faces of Interface blog where we celebrate the individual leaders helping us to achieve our innovation goals. The special series tells the stories and background of some of our most brilliant people. Check out the latest edition here.

Happy Labor Day, and remember to rest and relax. We appreciate all you do Interface Team!

 

 

 

Why Interface Load Cells Stand Out from the Competition

As you might expect, there’s a lot of care and attention to detail in our product development methods that allow Interface to create the most accurate and reliable force measurement tools on the market. Honed over our 51 plus years in the manufacturing of force measurement products, we have among the most refined and thorough processes in the industry. Today, we are going to reveal one of the unique testing processes in our LowProfile® load cell development which sets us apart from the competition, by a landslide!

It’s no secret, Interface LowProfile load cells are reliable and offer repeatable results. What isn’t widely known is this is because of the product’s overall capability to handle loads with minimum error due to misalignment. In plain English, these load cells are very forgiving to general misalignment when they are installed into the application. Why? Because of a process called moment compensation. This is one of the primary differentiators from other pancake load cells in the marketplace.

Moment compensation is one of the many production tests we run on our LowProfile load cells to guarantee minimal influence from off-axis loads known as “moments.” We compensate for moments by hanging a weight from a fixture and rotating it around the LowProfile load cell. The offset weights go around and take readings at specific locations. The computer records the data and identifies the highest readings and locations. The operator then modifies the geometry of the material from the beam to make the beamless stiff. Once this process is completed, we go around and repeat the process to confirm results until the product passes the specification criteria.

Moment compensation is performed on every individual Interface LowProfile load cell and most other Interface load cell models to ensure repeatability and accuracy. This is a big deal in the force measurement industry because most load cell manufacturers don’t test and compensate or have a specification for eccentric load sensitivity like we do.

Interface takes these extra steps because we understand that as product development becomes more complex, the margin for error gets smaller and smaller. Moment compensation also helps to maximize the operating life and minimize performance errors. With Interface LowProfile load cells, customers know that every step in our design and development process is conducted to ensure the premium quality which exceeds their needs and quality expectations.

Contributor: Carlos Salamanca, Interface Engineering

Are you a person that likes to learn visually? There’s an Interface video for that! Check out Interface’s Brian Peters explaining the process here:

For more information on Interface’s lineup up of our precision LowProfile load cells, please visit /product-category/load-cells/ or call to contact an Application Engineer at 480-948-5555.  You can also read about our entire line of load cells here.

Load Cell Brochure 6 Page

Interface Launches New University Program

Interface is investing in the engineers of tomorrow with our new Interface University Program.  The new STEM-focused initiative promotes innovation and education by providing access to the best force measurement products, services, and experts in the industry.

As the world’s leader in force measurement solutions, Interface created the specialized Interface University Program to provide discounted products and services, educational materials and access to renowned test and measurement expertise.

The distinct Interface University Program offers higher education institutions and students reductions on the industry’s most accurate and reliable force measurement standard products and calibration services to accelerate research and development, advance science, perform accurate testing, and promote exploration.

Through the unique program, Interface is also providing educational support in the form of internships, R&D projects, sponsored test and measurement class projects, grants, and community STEM program support.

“Our goal is to empower engineering students to achieve their educational and career goals with the help of our exclusive Interface University Program,” said Joel Strom, CEO, Interface. “The program will make critical engineering tools, services and professional support more accessible to universities and colleges faculty and engineering students. This program provides best in class test and measurement products, specialized solution bundles and discounts on products and services that will enrich engineering and metrology program experiences.”

The Interface University Program

Interface Standard Products:

  • Get Started Bundle with Interface LowProfile®, Sealed S-Type and Mini Beam Load Cells, Torque Transducer, Indicator and more at 25% off
  • Load Cell 101 Field Guide by Interface Engineers
  • 10% off all standard products and additional loyalty program discount programs

Interface Calibration and Repair Services:

  • Tiered Calibration Services Program discounts
  • Expedited repair services with special discounts
  • 25% off 3-year annual calibration services programs for maintenance

Education Support and Resources:

  • Internships for R&D at Interface HQ in Arizona
  • R&D projects
  • Sponsored test and measurement class projects or challenges
  • Failure testing projects
  • Onsite engineering hours: class, speaking, events

Interface provides force measurement solutions and services to hundreds of universities coast-to-coast and around the world every year. The company’s founder, Richard F. Caris, was a major proponent of charitable giving to STEM-focused institutions and programs. In 2015, Caris donated $20 million to the University of Arizona Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab to support the construction of mirrors used for the Giant Magellan Telescope. The Mirror Lab has utilized Interface products in its mirror polishing process for the past twenty years.

“Interface has been a long-time partner of the University of Arizona,” said Buell Jannuzi, Ph.D., Steward Observatory director and head of the Department of Astronomy, University of Arizona. “Their commitment to STEM and support of the Mirror Lab has been critical to our efforts, as well as the education of our students.”

For more information on the program and for a detailed breakdown of special offers, services, and educational support, please visit /university-program/ or contact our Application Engineers at 480-948-5555.

PRESS RELEASE

University Program Overview

University Program 2 Page