The Role of Actuators in Force Measurement

One of the most common force measurement tests in the engineering and manufacturing world is called cycle testing. Cycle testing involves constant force being applied to a component or product over hours, days and even months. The goal is to test a product to find out how long it will last under the amount of force it will see in use in the real world.

Cycle testing is used throughout different industries. One of the most common applications of a cycle test is on something like airplane wings. The wings of an airplane are exposed to constant push and pull force to guarantee that they will hold up over many flights. Check out the wing fatigue testing application note here.

Another example is simple furniture tests, like a chair, to ensure it can withstand the weight of people of all sizes after years and years of use. These tests are designed to really push the limits on the product so engineers and manufacturers can confirm their designs and ensure safety and durability.

To carry out these tests, actuators are used to generate the force in cycle testing. An actuator is a component responsible for moving and controlling a mechanism or system. Actuators are small components that convert energy in a linear moment. There are a variety of different types of actuators including linear, rotary, hydraulic, pneumatic, and more. Each is designed to create force in different directions and on different axes.

Actuators are very important because force measurement is fed back into a control loop and the actuator allows you to accurately control how much force you’re putting on a test article. As a basic example, if you wanted to measure how much force it takes to close a door, you would use an actuator to provide the door closing force while the load cell measures the amount of force given off by the actuator.

Interface often integrates actuators into load cells for custom solutions to use in rigorous use and cycle testing. These types of custom solutions are used by equipment and product manufacturers, OEMs, as well as product design and testing labs. There is increasing frequency for OEMs to integrate actuators into load cells for testing their automated testing lines or products in use for continuous feedback.

For example, mobile device manufacturers use a miniature–sized load button load cell like the ConvexBT to test the pressure sensitivity of the touch screen. By using an actuator, phone manufacturers can set up an automated test lines with an actuator integrated in the load button load cell to test each screen as they go across a test line. You can read more about ConvexBT in this new white paper.

Another major application for actuators is in calibration machines. To test if a load cell is calibrated correctly, an actuator applies force to the load cell being tested and a calibration grade Gold Standard Load Cell simultaneously. These measurements can tell the user if the load cell needs to be recalibrated or not because the actuator allows the user to create a very precise force measurement. If measurements on the test load cell are not the same as the control load cell, the user knows it is off calibration and it’s time to schedule a calibration service.

From custom solutions to calibration, if actuators are necessary for your next project learn how Interface can work with you to find a solution that meets your precise needs.

Read more about Gold Standard Calibration Systems here.

Learn about how Interface is a preferred provider of OEM solutions here.

Calibration Grade Load Cells and Systems

The Interface brand has become synonymous with premium accuracy, reliability, and performance since we pioneered load cells back in 1968. Because of our reputation and commitment to quality, our Gold Standard® and Platinum Standard® Calibration Grade products are used by engineers and calibration experts in top metrology labs independently and within aerospace, automotive, medical, and industrial automation industries around the world.

Why Interface is the Gold Standard in Calibration Grade Load Cells?

Calibration grade load cells meet ASTM E74 standards, capable of 2% lower load limits. These Interface products are handcrafted in design and production for excellence in performance, meeting the most demanding calibration requirements. Accuracy is considered extremely high by precision standards.

One of the key reasons for our product’s accuracy is the fact that Interface leverages a vertically integrated design and production method. We control the entire manufacturing process, which begins with the development of our own strain gages.

Strain gages are the heart and soul of every load cell. By controlling the design and production, we can customize the strain gage in each load cell to fit the specific force measurement needs of our customers.

To develop our Gold and Platinum Standard products, the most accurate and reliable products in our catalog, we add more strain gages to improve performance and allow for a higher tolerance. We also run more intensive tests to ensure premium quality. These products are tested at 30 points and in three different positions to provide a coefficient. This coefficient allows us to use the Gold Standard Calibration Systems to get more precise performance and calibrate load cells against a more precise analysis. The final results lead to the most accurate and trusted calibration systems and calibration load cells.

Interface Calibration Systems and Load Cell Application

In nearly every major manufacturing lab in the U.S. and beyond, you will find an Interface Gold Standard Calibration System and Gold or Platinum Standard Load Cells. This is because our customers are working on some of the most advanced hardware in their respective industries and fields. These customers not only need to ensure their measurements are as accurate as possible to avoid product failure. They also need to prove the accuracy of their testing equipment for those products to pass inspection and make it to the market.

Interface Gold Standard Calibration Systems and Load Cells are used in a wide variety of applications. This includes wing and rocket tests to make sure the structural integrity of the hardware will hold up to extreme conditions and force. Our calibration systems are also used in stent stress testing to prove that an implanted stent will not fail over the lifetime of the patient. If they do, it can lead to serious medical complications and often death.

Interface Gold Standard and Platinum Calibration Grade Products

Our product line includes a wide range of Gold and Platinum Standard Load Cells and Gold Standard Calibration Systems. These products are uniquely suited for a wide number of applications and industries. Read how Interface Defines the Gold Standard in Calibration Systems here. The calibration grade products in this lineup include:

Calibration Grade Load Cells:

Calibration Systems:

For more information on Interface Gold and Platinum Standard Load Cells and Calibration Systems, contact our Application Engineers or visit

Contributor: Ken Bishop, Sales and Custom Solutions Director, Interface

Calibration Systems 101

Even with the most accurate load cells available, the toll of constant use over long periods, and in some cases accidental misuse, can impact the reliability of the output. Calibration of force measurement products is vital in performance management, and necessary for safety and compliance with ISO and industry-specific standards.

In a recent Interface customer survey, 21% of respondents are calibrating load cells in-house. This is one of the reasons why Interface provides world-class load cell calibration solutions in several design configurations, as well as custom products, for a wide range of rigid and portable systems. Interface calibration offerings include complete systems for desktop and portable configurations, load frames, signal conditioning boards, intelligent digital indicators, calibration grade load cells, and calibration adapters.

The Interface Gold Standard® Calibration Systems, using the Interface Gold or Platinum Standard® Load Cells, ensures a metrology system of the highest accuracy and lowest uncertainty available.

The GS-SYS Gold Standard® Calibration System Load Frame consists of a four-post rigid load frame, proprietary load feedback loop, signal conditioning hardware, and fully-automated calibration software for the highest accuracy and lowest uncertainty available. Portable versions of the GS-SYS system are also available for calibrating load cells and test equipment.

Features of the system include:

  • 2 channels with an option available for 3 and 4 channels
  • 9840 Intelligent Indicator
  • Less than 0.04% RDG uncertainty
  • Testing and reporting per ASTM E74 and/or ISO 376 standards
  • Automated reports, graphs, and performance parameter calculations with custom reporting options
  • Innovative fixturing allows for tension and compression calibration without changing the setup
  • Proprietary load feedback design for accurate and reliable load control
  • Data archiving

A fully automated Interface Calibration System can reduce calibration time by 50% to 90% and can be set for automated calibration runs to be completed in less than five minutes.

The top calibration grade load cells from Interface are the 1800 Platinum Standard® Calibration Load Cell in ranges of 1.1K lbf to 55K lbf, 4.89 kN to 245 kN, followed by the 1600 Gold Standard® Calibration Load Cell with options from 500 lbf to 200K lbf and 2.22 kN to 900 kN.

Interface also has a compression-only calibration load cell, the 1601 Gold Standard®, in capacities of 1K lbf to 100K lbf and 4.45 kN to 445 kN.  The 1606 Gold Standard® Low Capacity Calibration load cell is also used in metrology labs, with products available in 50 lbf to 300 lbf ad 222 N to 1.33 kN sizes.

Interface also offers calibration software included with our calibration products. The ICS-202 Gold Standard® Load Cell Calibration Software will provide exact load output at specific load points. Calibration results from other runs can be compared, measured, and displayed with current run results.

Interface provides the most accurate and reliable load cells in the force measurement industry. We are able to do this because we control the entire load cell development process from design to production, including manufacturing our own strain gauges. Controlling the complete process ensures outstanding product quality which is confirmed through our stringent calibration requirements before any Interface product is shipped to our customer.

Interface load cells are capable of lasting a very long time. In fact, we recently received a calibration service request on some of the very first load cells that we have ever manufactured, decades old. To ensure load cells last as long as possible, Interface recommends customers calibrating their load cells on an annual basis. The frequency of calibrations should also be determined by the following factors:

  • Measurement quality and allowable tolerance range
  • Subjected level of stress on the equipment
  • Stability of past calibrations
  • Required measuring accuracy
  • Quality assurance requirements

Whether you rely on Interface for calibration maintenance services or perform the services in-house, we have calibration solutions to meet your exact needs including load frames, signal conditioning boards, and intelligent digital indicators.  Contact our specialized Application Engineers to discuss the best options for your requirements.

Download or view the Calibration Systems Brochure

Contributor:  Jay Bradley, Sr. Electrical Engineer, Interface

Interface Defines the Gold Standard in Calibration Systems

Interface understands that when companies are designing and testing complex structures like airplanes, space shuttles, automobiles, and oil & gas rigs, failure is not an option. In order to reduce uncertainty and guarantee the safety of these systems, the highest levels of accuracy in the testing process is an absolute requirement before any structure is moved to final production.

For more than a half-century, Interface has set the standard for reliability in force measurement products. Each load cell that leaves our doors is precisely calibrated to the highest standards available on the market.

In fact, we are maintaining standards of accuracy acceptable by the world’s leaders in aerospace, energy, rockets, medical devices, infrastructure, automobiles and more. Assurance of accuracy and quality are supported through our proprietary Gold Standard® Calibration System, which is the defining ‘gold standard’ in our industry.

Years ago, our customers started asking how we could help them do an in-house calibration. We knew we had to ensure the same quality we used ourselves, no exceptions. So we built our system for commercial use, making it the first of its kind calibration system available to our valued load cell customers.

Interface is the only major load cell company that also sells calibration systems. In fact, many calibration labs and other load cell makers calibrate their load cells with Interface Gold Standard Calibration Systems.

GS-SYS Gold Standard Calibration System Load Frame

GS-SYS Gold Standard Calibration System Load Frame

Interface Load Cell Calibration Systems are available for a wide range of rigid and portable systems and configurations. The Interface GS-SYS Gold Standard® Calibration System Load Frame uses the Interface Gold Standard® Load Cell to ensure a metrology system of the highest accuracy and lowest uncertainty available. It consists of a four-post rigid load frame, proprietary load feedback loop, signal conditioning hardware, and fully-automated calibration software. It also comes in a desktop and portable system for more effortless mobility.

Additional features of the Interface Gold Standard® Calibration System include:

  • 2 channels (options available for up to 8 total channels)
  • SCB1 measurement board featuring <0.003% FS Nonlinearity
  • Less than 0.04% RDG uncertainty
  • The fully-automated system will reduce calibration time by 50% to 90%
  • Automated calibration run can be completed in less than 5 minutes
  • Innovative fixturing allows for tension and compression calibration without changing the setup
  • 12 in. clearance between posts allows for easy load cell installation and removal
  • Accurate and reliable load control achieved by proprietary load feedback design
  • Testing and reporting per ASTM E74 and/or ISO 376 standards
  • Automatically produces standard reports, graphs, and performance parameter calculations
  • Ability to customize reports and graphs
  • Automatically archives data

We also offer training on our systems for new users.  There are additional features that can be customized into calibration systems.  Contact our expert customer solutions application engineers here.

The Gold Standard Calibration System is the preferred choice for companies that value accuracy and reliability. If you prefer that Interface does all your calibration and repairs, contact our trusted service and cal experts today at /calibration-repair/.