Interface ForceLeaders Summit 2024 in Arizona happens on Tuesday, January 16, Our force measurement solutions engineers and experts will share valuable tips and experience using load cells, torque transducers, multi-axis sensors, and advanced instrumentation. Register to join the live conversation, ask your questions, and learn from industry professionals. The event takes place at ASU SkySong.
ForceLeaders Summit is heading to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Interface sensor workshop brings together experts in force measurement detailing applications, products, FAQs, and technical tips. We detail load cells, transducers, multi-axis sensors, data acquisition, wireless systems, instrumentation, and more. Registration required, limited seating. The event takes place in Brookfield, just outside of Milwaukee.
The world’s largest science and engineering competition for pre-college students, the 2023 Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (Regeneron ISEF), took place in Dallas, Texas, May 14 – 19. Supporting the Society for Science and ISEF, the Richard F. Caris Charitable Trust II is a proud sponsor of this critical society and experience that focuses on the ingenuity students in STEM.
Richard F. Caris is the founder of Interface, Inc., a leader in force measurement solutions. The company started 55 years ago and continues to engineer and supply vital sensor technologies, including our renowned precision load cells. These precisoin measurement devices are used for testing and validation of global inventions across all industries, from robotics to space exploration.
Regeneron ISEF offers a prestigious platform that gathers the most exceptional young scientists and engineers from across the globe. This renowned competition serves as a catalyst for Regeneron and the Society for Science to champion and nurture the upcoming generation of talented STEM innovators. These brilliant minds not only generate groundbreaking ideas but also serve as catalysts for the transformative change required to enhance the well-being of individuals, society, and the planet.
By supporting and investing in these bright young minds, Regeneron ISEF and the sponsorship by Richard F. Caris Charitable Trust II continues to foster innovation and drive positive impact on a global scale.
Congratulations Physics and Astronomy, sponsored by Richard F. Caris Charitable Trust II Winners
Alexander Plekhanov from Portland, OR
Kaitlyn Wang from San José, CA
Kaitlyn Wang won first place for the entire ISEF competition and received the $75,000 George D. Yancopoulos Innovator Award for finding an efficient way to identify certain exoplanets that orbit very closely around their stars. As detailed by the ISEF announcement, previous techniques used to detect these ultra-short-period planets required enormous computational power but were not as effective at identifying these planets. Kaitlyn surmounted that problem by creating a special algorithm that runs on cheap hardware and results in much faster and higher-precision findings. Using her research, she says she found the smallest of these planets ever discovered.
Interface, on behalf of the Richard F. Caris Charitable Trust II, would like to congratulate Kaitlyn and Alexander, along with all the participants and winners of ISEF 2023. Interface supports the Society for Science and ISEF by also providing our Load Cell Field Guide, an essential resource for future scientists and engineers that use test and measurement to validate their inventions and experiments.
Visit the ISEF 2023 virtual fair to learn more about the project and the finalists.
Ryan Roden, one of our outstanding engineers, is our feature in today’s Faces of Interface. Ryan has been a team member at Interface for more than two years. He is instrumental in leading one of our most important product lines, the revolutionary AxialTQ wireless rotary torque transducer.
Like many of Interface’s talented engineers, Ryan’s interest in the world of electronics and design started at an early age. He remembers working on cars, building, and fixing things around the house constantly as a kid. In addition, his father owned a machine shop, so he always had the tools around, as well as the mentorship of his father.
This early interest led Ryan to pursue an educational foundation in electrical engineering at LeTourneau University in Texas. During his time in school, he also had the opportunity to join Colorado Engineering as an intern, which eventually led to his very first role in the industry as an associate electrical engineer with the same company.
In this role, Ryan worked with a wide variety of different applications, most notable military grade products involving radar. As an associate engineer, he worked on digital design, board layout, testing and troubleshooting across military and commercial applications. He worked with Colorado Engineering, Inc., for two years before moving back to Arizona.
When he came back, Ryan worked for his dad for a few months while looking for a job in the area. He found Interface had an opening and immediately saw that his skillset fit the types of things we’re doing in the area of electrical engineering, and he was excited to have a diverse set of industries and applications that can utilize his experience.
Ryan was hired and he has been an excellent member of the team. He notes that his day-to-day is always different, but typically he can be found troubleshooting electrical challenges, designing PCBs, dealing with the supply chain to source parts and materials, and working with the engineering lab on new products.
What he enjoys most about working at Interface is that it is a diverse mix of different fields of engineering including electrical and mechanical. He also enjoys the deep level of problem solving required to serve customers. He says the work keeps him on his toes and constantly shifting gears to solve different challenges.
In his free time, Ryan is an outdoors person. He enjoys boating in the summer and hunting as much as possible throughout Arizona, as well as spending time with his family. He also still enjoys being around and working on cars, a passion that never left him since he was a kid.
Ryan has proven his abilities as an engineer repeatedly over the last two years with Interface and we are proud to have him on the team!
We hope you enjoyed learning more about Ryan, and if you’re interested in getting to know the rest of our outstanding Interface team members, tune in monthly to the Interface blog for more ForceLeaders features.
Due to the influence of IoT, AI and big data, the role of production line engineer has become far more critical as manufacturers demand peak efficiency. These engineers need to stay current in automation technologies used to design, build, and monitor a production line for the benefits of decreasing speed to market, lowering costs, and improving outputs at the highest quality standards.
Among the many software and hardware solutions these individuals must also understand connected sensors are among the most important. Sensors are the nervous system of an automated production line, telling which machines must perform certain tasks, when, and how. They are a source for smart factories and smart manufacturing.
Sensors modernize manufacturing, assembly, and production lines by enabling real-time monitoring and control of the production process.
Measurement solutions provide accurate data on production parameters such as temperature, speed, pressure, force, and other relevant variables, which can then be used to optimize the production process, detect, and resolve problems in real-time, and prevent downtime. Additionally, sensors can be integrated into industrial IoT systems to provide valuable insights and analytics that can help manufacturers make data-driven decisions.
One of the sensor types that play a key role in these automated production lines are force sensors. Force sensors can be used by production line engineers across several different facets of an automated line. When designing a manufacturing line, there are quite a few factors that go into the full system. This includes process monitoring, quality control, predictive maintenance, energy management and inventory management. Force sensors play a role in each of these types of data points and processes.
For instance, a production line engineer can install sensors onto a machine that outputs a great deal of torque and monitor that torque to ensure the components creating that force are running smoothly, or if there are certain indicators that say it needs to be pulled off the line briefly for maintenance. When products on the line trigger certain force parameters such as weight, this can also tell the automated production line it is ready for the next stop in the process. Production line engineers design these lines around the sensing capabilities available and connected force sensing products have made a major difference in helping things become more efficient.
There is another automated process that also requires force sensors that is used as part of a manufacturing line, or as a standalone system – robotics. Production line engineers are doing a great deal of research and development into robotics to automate process that are repetitive, or far too delicate for human hands. Force sensors, in this use case, are used in both the testing of robotics to ensure accuracy or developed into the robotics to monitor certain functions over time.
Robotics can improve assembly and production processes, leading to higher efficiency, improved quality, and reduced costs. As technology continues to advance, the use of robotics by production line engineers in assembly and production is likely to become even more widespread.
Here at Interface, we have a great deal of experience in developing solutions for industrial automation and manufacturing lines. We have developed a few application notes to outline how production line engineers use our sensor solutions and force measurement products.
6-Axis Force Plate Robotic Arm
A customer wanted to measure the reaction forces of their robotic arm for safety purposes. The reaction loads occur at the robotic arm’s base; therefore, they needed a force measurement system at the base of the robotic arm. Interface suggested using their force plate option to install at the base of the robotic arm. Four 3-Axis Force Load Cells were installed between two force plates, then installed at the bottom of the arm. This creates one large 6-Axis Force Plate. The sensors force data is recorded and displayed through the two BX8 Multi-Channel Bridge Amplifier and Data Acquisition Systems onto the customer’s PC or laptop. Interface’s 6-Axis Force Plate was able to successfully measure the reaction forces of the customer’s robotic arm. Read more here.
Press Load Monitoring
Press forming is a method to deform varied materials. For instance, materials such as steel can be bent, stretched, or formed into shapes. A force measurement solution is required to monitor the forces being applied by the press forming machine. This ensures quality control and traceability during the production process. For large press forming machines, Interface recommends installing the 1000 High-Capacity Fatigue-Rated LowProfile™ Load Cell. When the material is placed under the punch plate to form a shape, the force applied is measured by the 1000 Series Load Cell. The force results captured is sent to the INF-USB3 Universal Serial Bus Single Channel PC Interface Module, where results can be graphed and logged on the customer’s PC with provided software. Interface’s force measurement products and instrumentation accurately monitored and logged the force results of the press force machine, ensuring zero-error production performance. Learn more about this application here.
Snack Weighing and Packaging Machine
A snack manufacturing brand wanted to weigh the amount of their snacks that is automatically dispersed into the bags during the packaging process. In this case, they wanted to weigh their potato chips being packaged. The company also wanted to ensure the potato chips are at the exact weight needed due to regulatory standards to be distributed out to consumers in the public. Interface’s solution was to use multiple SPI Platform Scale Load Cells, and install it to the potato multi-head weigher and packaging machine. The SPI Platform Scale Load cells were installed inside of the mount that attaches the head weigher to the packaging machine. Force results from the potato chips were read by the load cells and sent to the ISG Isolated DIN Rail Mount Signal Conditioner, where the customer is able to control the automated production from their command center. Using this solution, the customer was able to determine the weight of the potato chips being distributed into their bags with highly accurate results. They also were able to control the automated production process with the provided instrumentation. They will use this same weighing method for other snacks that need to be packaged. Read about the solution here.
Production line engineers turn to Interface due to our quality, accuracy, and reliability. Our products are used to test, monitor in real time, and created automated processes within a manufacturing line. As automation and robotics grow, you will continue to see new applications for sensors in this sector.
In the global marketplace, Interface is well known as providing the force measurement industry’s most reliable and accurate products. One of the key reasons that Interface consistently earns this recognition is because we manufacture our own strain gages. Products engineered and manufactured at Interface use our proprietary strain gages, and each designed for the specific transducer model based on the application type and environment for use.
As an example of our dedication to quality and excellence in performance as it pertains to strain gages, I recently shared a technical presentation on the negative effects of eccentric load and how strain gage design can reduce these challenges.
Below is a brief recap of this presentation made to the attendees of the Western Regional Strain Gage Committee meeting that took place in Tempe, Arizona in October 2022. The summary explains why strain gage design can make all the difference in quality versus poor performance with load cells.
Interface redesigned the strain gages on one of our mini load cells, the LBSU Miniature Load Cell Load Button, also known as our ConvexBT – The Most Innovative Load Button Load Cell. Our goal in the redesign was to create more controlled and repeatable loading, in turn creating a more predictable output. Our research focused on strain gage designs for load cells where mechanical moment compensation is not feasible.
The main challenge with this initiative was overcoming the errors associated with eccentric loading by making the installation process smoother through a redesign. This is difficult because strain gages are very small in size and therefore more difficult to work with, in addition they are extremely sensitive to the environment with factors like temperature, humidity, cleanliness and electric interference all potentially effecting performance.
Before diving into the redesign, I would like to touch on eccentric loading and the errors it will cause, as well as the varied factors in strain gage manufacturing that can lead to errors causing eccentric load. There are two types of eccentricity: loading and mounting. Eccentric load results from improper loading or mounting of the strain gage, which leads to off-axis loads and bending. This causes several problems including distorted measurement results, decreased load cell accuracy, and diminishing life of the load cell.
When a strain gage is mounted on the load cell incorrectly or gages are badly bonded, it will almost always be an error source and contribute to mounting errors. Also, when strain gages are not bonded to the load cell at appropriate temperature and humidity, it leads to bubbles under the gage. Chemical composition of the strain gage is critical, such as the adhesive between the foil and backing, based on the application in which load cell will be used in a lab, machine, or testing program.
With these factors in mind, we set out on a redesign continuous improvement project. The previous design of this products strain gages was rectangular in shape. So, when the load cell was loaded, eccentrically or not, the strain field would not pass through because of shape. Therefore, we began to look at other shapes for our strain gage design, ultimately landing on a circular “diaphragm” style strain gage that allow strain fields to pass through.
One of the features of this newly designed strain gage is the proprietary adhesive foil we used to adhere the foil to the backing. This adhesive provided a great deal of benefit including a lower modulus of elasticity making it resilient to adhesive failure, and the elasticity also allows for better flow.
Another feature is the full bridge gage pattern we used that provides three key advantages. This includes fewer solder joints and reduced risk for electrical shorts due to simplified wiring, reduced symmetry error, and consistent thermal performance.
One process improvement we wanted to point out was that in our calibration process we only used 5V excitation voltage. Most manufacturers use 10V to calibrate their load cells. Due to lack of thermal mass in the thin diaphragm design of our strain gage, the zero will shift due to high voltage and low poor heat dissipation with 10V. We use a 5V excitation voltage to calibrate these miniature load cells instead of the alternative to prevent overheating of the cell.
To further improve the design, we enhanced the inspection process. Our diaphragm gages are quality inspected for accurate mounting with visual and electrical testing. Visual testing includes checking for air bubbles under the gage, badly bonded edges, unreliable solder connections and flux residues. Electrical tests include checking for electrical continuity and insulation resistance.
We then moved our attention to the circuit board. Some manufacturers use a circuit board in the cable due to the limited space within the cell to improve zero balance zero balance and to better compensate for temperature. However, bending or moving this cable would put pressure on the board and shift the zero. Therefore, we elected to install an abradable compensation resistors inside the flexure instead of the cable. This keeps the compensation resistor close to the gages and is intimately bonded to the body of the sensor to improve the reaction time of the cell to temperature.
To evaluate and confirm that our design was superior, we assessed three different strain gage styles: the rectangular gages (discreet gages), patch gages, and our diaphragm gage. Each of the gage styles were placed on three different load cells and loaded at one degree centricity. This test was run at 45 degree increments eight times. The results showed diaphragm style provided more reproducible result under eccentric load compared to other gages.
This was an interesting undertaking that taught the project team a lot about strain gage design and eccentric load. What I took away from this experience, other than a superior design for our ConvexBT Load Button Load Cells, is that any commercially successful product has a strong process behind it. You also need to have a clearly defined process that includes a continuous improvement plan. Interface Minis are a popular product line that has been around for many years. As soon as a product like this hits a point of stagnation, it will lose its hold on the market. I am proud of our team’s ability to avoid stagnation by taking critical steps to improving the Mini product line, maintaining our reputation for having the best quality, accurate and reliable products no matter the capacity available for precision force measurement.
Western Regional Strain Gage Committee (WRSGC), a technical division of the national Society for Experimental Mechanics (SEM), was established to promote a free interchange of information about strain measurement techniques using strain gages.
Interface is a proud member and sponsor of WRSGC. Our engineers participate in the technical conferences, in both presentation and attendance. Interface’s Product Design Engineer Ashlesa Mohapatra presented at the event held in Arizona, October 17-19, 2022.
In our ongoing commitment to provide valuable resources through self-help guides and online reference materials, we are introducing our 101 Series.
This new online resource is an easy-to-use guide for load cell basics and force measurement topics. The series is a collection of content in various formats that detail subjects related to test and measurement.
Interface prioritizes helping our customers understand the inner workings of our expanding line of sensors, accessories, and instrumentation by creating guides, technical manuals, and solution applications for force measurement.
The Interface 101 Series will introduce you to relevant subjects about our products and how we can help you get the most accurate and reliable force data in the industry by using our solutions.
Our new 101 Series guide is an effortless way to navigate through high-level test and measurement topics. Each section of the new 101 Series includes a featured 101 IQ blog on a single subject, as well as quick links to videos, case studies, white papers, application notes, product information, technical specifications and more related to that subject.
The goal in creating the 101 Series is to provide a basic understanding on how our products are used for various test and measurement applications across all industries. The references are an effective way to learn about the broad depth of Interface products like our precision load cells, torque transducers, multi-axis sensors, calibration systems and instrumentation. We also provide relevant test and measurement content related to types of force measurement testing, components, systems, and materials used in engineering highly accurate measurement technologies.
There are thousands of references found throughout our site, like our design files for product engineers and digital instrumentation set-up videos for lab techs. It is our pledge to develop material that support our 35,000 products, as well as provide educational content like the 101 Series and our ForceLeaders Webinars you can watch on-demand.
Included below are the current 101 IQ Blogs you will find featured on the 101 Series online guide. We will add additional references to this 101 Series, as we post new subjects. Go to Force Measurement 101 Series to bookmark this reference.
101 Series IQ Blogs
- Force Measurement Instrumentation 101
- Types of Force Measurement Tests 101
- Load Cell 101 and What You Need to Know
- Torque Transducers 101
- Multi-Axis Sensors 101
- Mini Load Cells 101
- Force Measurement Accessories 101
- Calibration Systems 101
- Strain Gages 101
- Load Button Load Cells 101
- Load Pins 101
- Load Shackles 101
- Tension Links 101
- Couplings 101
- Load Washers 101
- S-Type Load Cells 101
- Interface Calibration 101
- Shunt Calibration 101
- TEDS 101
- Stainless Steel Load Cells 101
You can find additional reference materials related to our products and services including manuals, product catalogs, technical references, and events. Go to our online support to find helpful educational and advanced resources like our technical glossary, engineering tips and installation guides.
If you are mostly interested in why you should choose Interface, here is a good reference to start.
If you are not able to find the information you need or you have a specific question about our products or services, be sure to contact us to help.
Interface has a long history of collaborating with colleges and universities around the world. From individual engineering students testing the force of launching miniature rockets to supplying onsite test labs with load cells and equipment for R&D, we are a resource for higher education learning and experimentation.
In our view, innovation and exploration have no boundaries. What validates new ideas and manifests problem solving requires modern and reliable tools that support student’s projects and activities. Its key to any program’s success. It is also why we are proud to be known around the globe as a leader in building and designing force measurement products that facilitate these initiatives through higher learning.
It is very inspiring to see new engineering students, future metrologists, and soon-to-be graduates designing new medical devices, creating new spacecraft and interplanetary vehicles, testing materials used for miniature consumer products and of course, building plenty of new robots and AI machines.
In our view, every university or college should have Interface force measurement products on hand to support these types of educational test and measurement research projects. Here is a simplified list of basic sensor products to get started.
Force Measurement Essentials for Higher Learning
- Precision load cells in diverse designs and capacities
- S-type load cells (load beams)
- Miniature load cells and load buttons
- Multi-axis sensors
- Calibration grade equipment
- Wireless sensor technologies
- Rotary and reaction torque transducers
- Verification load frames
Our investment in supporting educational programs runs deep into our history as a company. You will find our founder’s name on the Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab at The University of Arizona. Following in his commitment to education, the Richard F. Caris Charitable Trust II continues to support STEM programs including sponsorship of the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF).
We drive to ensure that students who have a passion for science, technology and engineering have access to the best force measurement sensor technologies. It is why we offer a standard discount to all students and education institutions. You can learn more about our education support here. We know that learning requires the best tools, and we want to make sure that every student has the most accurate, quality and precision load cells available today.
As with all inquisitive minds, we thought it would be interesting to share what are other university and colleges buying for their learning programs and campus labs.
Top 10 products for testing projects and campus lab studies:
- 1200 LowProfile Load Cells are our most popular load cell, available in standard and high-capacity features.
- 1010 Load Cell model is a fatigue-rated low profile load cell in our 1000 product family, offering various capacities and functions.
- 2420 Load Cell is one of our stainless-steel standard and high-capacity load cells in our 2400 model series.
- 1500 Low-Capacity Load Cell designs are common requirements for applications where low sensitivity to eccentric load is important.
- WMC Sealed Stainless Steel Miniature Load Cell has an environmentally protected construction that comes in a variety of model capacities and configurations. It is great for small spaces and industrial applications.
- 3-Axis Load Cells are extremely popular multi-axis sensors designed to provide more testing data and often paired with BSC4 instrumentation. They are ideally suited for aerospace, robotics, automotive, and medical research testing applications.
- 6-Axis Load Cells are growing in popularity, for cost benefit and their unique ability to simultaneously measure Fx Fy Fz Mx My Mz.
- SSM Miniature Load Cells are one of many popular general-purpose s-type designed load cells. You call learn more about all our s-type models here.
- Torque Transducers of all types are used by university programs, engineering departments and metrology labs. There are many different options including rotary and reaction torque solutions. For all options, start here to choose the right one.
- Load Washer Load Cells are used because of the unique through-hole designs. They come in various models and dimensions, along with capacity options.
As with any project, the questions of what you want to measure, the applications, and where you are sending the data, are all core to choosing the sensor and instrumentation that is best suited for the learning environment or program.
Speaking of where to send the data for performance monitoring and analysis, the five most favorite types of instrumentation selected by university students and engineering labs include:
- DMA2 Signal Conditioner
- 9840 4-Channel Intelligent Indicator
- 9825 General Purpose Indicator
- BX8-AS BlueDAQ Series Data Acquisition System
- SGA AC/DC POWERED SIGNAL CONDITIONER
If you are heading back to school and thinking that it is time to revamp the testing lab or need new force measurement equipment, be sure to reach out to our education application engineers. They have years of experience and can help you get exactly what you need for your project and programs.
Be sure to tune into our Load Cell Basics, for answer to common questions about using these highly accurate sensors for your test and measurement projects. You can find all our Interface videos on our YouTube channel here.
If you are looking to explore more technical resources, be sure to go to our online support area and subscribe to our blogs for weekly updates.
ADDITIONAL EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES
Today’s Faces of Interface features a person who might possibly hold the most titles in the company, and for good reason. Tin Nguyen is our calibration engineer, manufacturing engineer and business unit manager for calibration. Tin has earned all these titles along with the important responsibility through his relentless ability to take on and excel in new tasks, as well as his desire to learn. Check out his story.
Since he was about the age of eight years old, Tin had a proficiency for learning how to design and build things. It all started growing up on his grandparent’s farm where he would theorize ways to make tools and machines around the farm easier to use or more efficient. He vowed then that when he grew up, he would find a way to build things to make life easier for people.
Tin went on to attend Arizona State University (ASU), where he received a bachelor’s degree in manufacturing engineering and in technology in 2000. He really enjoyed the ASU engineering school experience because it was hands on and he got to work with the latest technology, preparing him for the real world. While attending school, Tin also served as an auto mechanic for racing cars to earn some extra money on the side and because he really enjoyed the work.
Tin joined Interface in September 2001. He began his career as a calibration associate in the calibration lab. After a few years in the lab, Tin was then promoted to manufacturing engineer. A year later, he was promoted to calibration supervisor followed by the calibration departments business unit manager. His success in each of these roles allowed him to retain some of his titles and work throughout the company to lend his skills and expertise.
Today, his role covers quite a bit of what we do here at Interface. His day-to-day responsibilities include developing and maintaining tooling for calibration, fixturing, improving production processes, auditing equipment, figuring out ways to reduce costs, training calibration techs, maintaining calibration standards, looking after 20 different rigs, to highlight a few. His depth of experience and expertise lends to supporting and helping the company meet the growing demands for Interface’s quality products.
What Tin enjoys so much about working at Interface and continuing to take on new roles is that he loves to learn everything there is to know about the company and serving customers. Tin noted, there are a lot of talented people around him to provide that knowledge and support. After more than 20 years with the company, Tin still feels that he has more to learn. He’s also very honored by the trust that Interface and its leadership have placed in Tin to take on all of his important roles.
In his free time, Tin loves to travel and explore the great outdoors. He enjoys hiking, camping, fishing, boating and more. And, as if he doesn’t already have enough projects in his work life, Tin is also very fond of upgrading and remodeling his home. He takes a lot of ownership over the process and will do everything that he can before hiring somebody to help.
With all the hats Tin wears, he knows Interface inside out and we’re thrilled to have him and his cross-departmental expertise as part of the Interface family! We hope you enjoyed the newest entry into our Faces of Interface and if you’re looking to learn more about our talented staff, visit our ForceLeaders feature here.