50 Years and Still Innovating Force Measurement Solutions

Interface is well known for premium accuracy and reliability when it comes to force measurement solutions. The product lines that Low Profile VP Brian Shaw and Mark Weathers, VP, Mini and 1923 Wireless Business Products manage range from Interface’s oldest products to brand-new ones in the pipeline.

In this new InterfaceIQ post, we highlight the different ways we are instilling innovation in both our older products and our newest designs, including optimizing efficiencies and significantly reducing production time.

Mini Load Cells

Interface was founded on the LowProfile® load cell product, what some companies refer to as pancake load cells. The next major product line to come along in our history is collectively referred to as load cell ‘minis,’ which tend to be smaller and cover a wide variety of geometries and packages. The fundamentals of our quality products haven’t changed; however, the speed at which we are able to get these products to market has improved significantly.

WMCP Overload Protected Stainless Steel Mini Load Cell

Interface minis are used for light-touch, lightweight, or limited space applications. Our miniature load cells provide exceedingly accurate measurements, similar to our full-size load cells, with proprietary alloy strain gages, full temperature compensation, and some environmentally hardened applications. Capacities are available as low as 0.11 pounds of force / 0.5 newtons and as high as 100 kilonewtons.

Most of our off-the-shelf mini load cells can be used in a wide variety of applications. Our engineers can also work with customers to design custom load cells to fit a specific need.  For example, our custom mini load cells are commonly used in the medical industry for applications like blood separation products.

Optimizing Production Significantly Cuts Lead Times

The most significant development in Interface’s mini load cell product line is the optimized production methods we have continually introduced. Inventory positioning and communication streamlining have helped to cut lead times in mini load cell production from seven to three days in our pilot product tests.

We take time to make innovation a priority in everything we do, from optimizing production methods to introducing new ways to help our clients succeed. This diversity is the reward Brian Shaw and I receive as co-managers of a department with our oldest and newest solutions.” Mark Weathers, VP of Mini and 1923 Wireless Business Products at Interface

Last week’s blog outlined efforts by leaders at Interface to improve efficiency by breaking down departmental barriers. The improvements we introduced have restructured various departments in the supply chain to allow our employees to have more direct communication with one another.

For instance, planners now sit directly on the production floor. This gives them direct access to the assembly line where they can schedule their own orders and accelerate time to market. In the past, the chain of communication was bogged down by departmental barriers that would slow down the time it takes to get a customer order into production.

1923 Wireless Series Load Cells

On the other end of the innovation spectrum is Interface’s 1923 Wireless Series Load Cell, a brand-new product in development at Interface. The original 1923 Series of load cells is one of Interface’s highest volume products. Its design and consistency have made it a popular off-the-shelf solution for many years.

The 1923 Series was originally designed for the oil and gas industry to avoid pump jacks going too fast and interrupting the capillary flow of oil. The load cell sits on the pump jack and monitors the force at which the jack pumps, providing real-time data to avoid over-pumping.

One of the challenges that sparked the development of our 1923 Wireless Series is the fact that the original 1923 Series requires a cable leading to the bridge device to relay the data to the user. In the hazardous environments where the load cell is used, the cables are subject to damage and can be inconvenient or dangerous. Our 1923 Wireless Series innovation removes the need for the cable and provides the same accurate, real-time data readings with little to no fuss.

Interface has thrived for more than 50 years because we have built a foundation for which we manufacture premium force measurement products. This enables us to look ahead and create solutions for the challenges of tomorrow.

Contributor:  Mark Weathers, VP, Mini and 1923 Wireless Business Products, Interface




Taking Flight with Interface

When the aerospace industry needs a force measurement solution provider, they’ve turned to Interface for the past 50 years. There is no room for error when it comes to the hardware that keeps airplanes and helicopters safely airborne, and therefore Interface products are the easy choice for Fortune 500 and innovators in from around the world.

Interface specializes in ground testing for aerospace vehicles. Our products are used in flight simulations, aircraft production, and structural, static and fatigue testing on fuselages and wings. We are the leader in moment and temperature compensation, and a unique differentiator of our load cells is their ability to accurately measure or isolate side loads.

The Interface force measurement standard, modified and custom products that we supply to the aerospace industry typically include:

  • LowProfile™ Load Cells
  • Mini Load Cells
  • Multi-Axis Sensors
  • Calibration Frames

The durability, reliability, performance, and accuracy of Interface load cells are what leads the market.  Unlike others, Interface’s load cells do not lose their accuracy over time. In fact, we just received a calibration order that included some of the very first load cells ever made by Interface. Simply said, our load cells are still on the production floor after 40 years of use.

Our load cells actually demonstrate improvements in performance the longer our customers have them.” – Ashish Desai, Director, Engineering and Technology, Interface

Our precision is the key to our success for aerospace, as well as all our industry solutions. To engineer high-precision load cells, we first start with the flexure. The flexure must be symmetrical, and a great deal of machining art goes into our symmetry process. We have strict control of the process, which also includes making our own strain gages. By maintaining tight control over all processes, Interface can better match the materials that go into the load cells, leading to higher performance.

Each Interface load cell is designed and manufactured at Interface corporate headquarters in Scottsdale, Arizona.  This single location benefit gives customers the added convenience of not needing to accommodate their designs to account for inaccuracies resulting from generic strain gages that are not made in the same place by the best in force measurement engineering and manufacturing.

Interface load cell features are important to the aerospace industry because not only does the longevity of our load cells save our customers money, our precision guarantees that measurements are accurate. One tiny inaccuracy in the measurement of airplane wing’s force capacity can cause critical failures and have devastating effects.

Interface also has all the necessary certifications for working with the aerospace industry including ISO17025, NCSL Z540 and ASTM E74. These standards of excellence demonstrate our ability to serve our customers to the highest degree, on the ground and for taking flight.

Contributor: Ashish Desai, Director, Engineering and Technology, Interface


Load Cell 101 and What You Need to Know

A load cell by definition is a sensor that measures and converts force into an electrical signal. In the force measurement industry, load is essentially a synonym for force, and the signal produced by a load cell is most commonly displayed in units of mass or torque. Load cells are used by all electronic scales to display weight, making them vital to the world we live in today.

Load Cell Classifications

Load cells can be classified by either the output signal they generate or by the way they detect weight. Output signals include pneumatic, hydraulic, and strain-gauge, and weight detection includes bending, shear, tension and others. To gain a high-level understanding of load cells, its best to focus on output-signal load cells:

Pneumatic: These load cells are typically used for measuring lower weights with high degrees of accuracy. They measure weight in terms of force-balance, meaning that weight is reported as a change in pressure. Key advantages of pneumatic load cells are their resistance to explosions, in addition to their low reactivity to temperature changes.

Hydraulic: As the name suggests, these load cells are used for water measurements, most notably in tanks. Like pneumatic load cells, hydraulic load cells balance force by measuring weight as a change in pressure of a fluid, and the pressure of the fluid rises as a result of an increase in force. These load cells have no electric components, allowing them to perform well in hazardous conditions.

Strain-gage: Strain-gage load cells attach to a support beam that experiences pressure. When pressure is applied to the beam, the change in tension experienced by the material places force upon the load cell, sending and electronic signal through a component called a switching unit. This signal displays a measurement of the load, which is how much force is being exerted on the beam.

Load Cell Applications

Load cells are leveraged in a wide variety of industries, including aerospace, medical, automotive, testing, manufacturing and more. Here are some of the standard ways that load cells are applied across disciplines:

Aerospace: Load cells are key for executing basic functions like aircraft assembly, brake testing, autopilot control, tire testing, jet engine thrust and more. Aircraft, spacecraft, military and defense companies like Boeing, Airbus, Lockheed, Northrop, Bombardier, Embraer, Gulfstream, NASA and Cessna are dependent on load cells for thrust, wing, static and fatigue testing.

Medical: Medical professionals rely on load cells for fitness and rehabilitation equipment, medical testing machines, laser surgical systems, fluid level monitoring for dialysis and surgery and a number of other applications. Extreme accuracy and force sensitivity are critical to providing top-notch care during surgical procedures and everyday living.

Automotive: Automotive professionals take advantage of load cells for seat testing, crash testing, steering, fuel tank assembly, suspension and more. Automotive load cells possess a wide range of capabilities and features, like moment compensation, temperature compensation, and mechanical overload protection.

Testing: The test and measurement industry provides key data for manufacturers, engineers and service personnel to ensure their products and services will hold up under designated loads. Some general applications include force, pressure, cable tension and concrete testing.

Manufacturing: Manufacturers rely on dependable measurements to carry out their day-to-day functions. Some ways load cells are used in manufacturing include bolt and rivet fastening, harness durability testing, package filling and friction testing.

Although load cells aren’t top-of-mind for most people, load cells drastically impact our everyday lives. Load cells are what keep building from collapsing, cars from falling apart, planes from crashing and medical equipment from malfunctioning.

To find out more about force measurement solutions for your business, please contact Interface.