Posts

Interface Solutions in the World of Sports

With our headquarters in the golf capitol of the U.S., it is easy to see why Interface test and measurement solutions rank top for engineers and golf manufacturers to test the force of golf balls, range equipment, clubs, and even the carts that roam the course. But our sensor technologies have a much broader reach, in both sport and geography.

Why is force measurement so heavily involved in the making and designing of sports equipment? It is obvious even by definition; sports are considered an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.

The physical exertion often utilizes some type of apparatus, device, tool, material, equipment, or gear that requires measurement of tension, compression, or rotation. Every sport differs and type of testing also will vary, whether from initial fatigue testing or actual designing sensors into the fitness equipment like a treadmill.

Our force measurement sensors are used across a wide variety of sports equipment to evaluate performance, lifecycle, durability, and quality.

Our specialty is building high accuracy solutions for the testing and monitoring of parts and total systems that move and create force, which is vital to makers and product designers of sports equipment and machines. Our force measurement solutions are ideal for stand-alone testing rigs, production equipment, as well as to embed in sports products in order to increase operability and reliability for end users.

Interface force measurement solutions are commonplace in sports gear and equipment R&D labs, design houses, manufacturer test and production facilities. The range of products we provide is as broad as the variety of sport categories, both individual and team. This applies to products used by consumers, as well as by professional athletes, trainers, and pro sport teams. We also collaborate with several engineers and manufacturers that build exercise and training equipment.

Interface has a history of providing our low profiles, s-types and miniature load cells for testing products used in individual sports such as running, weightlifting, mountain climbing, skiing, skating, bowling, fishing and cycling. We have created solutions that measure force and torque for gear used by competitive team sports including football, soccer, hockey, rugby, tennis, baseball, water sports and more. We have even seen an extended use in tools and equipment used in auto racing and even esports, who are using our sensors to test the actual gaming devices like brake pedals, driving gear and touch screens.

Interface is a global supplier of load cells, torque transducers, multi-axis sensors, and instrumentation for sport and fitness equipment. Here a few examples of where Interface solutions were used to influence the design, test, quality, and user experience.


Fitness Equipment Testing

A premiere maker of machines used in training and gyms around the world needs multiple load measurement systems for their different fitness machines. These machines included elliptical, leg press, rowing machine, and the cable machine to start. They want to ensure the machines functioning properly to prevent injuries. It can also be used for trainers who want to conduct strength and endurance tests.  A combination of products such as the WMCFP Overload Protected Sealed Stainless Steel Miniature Load Cell, SSB Sealed Beam Load Cells, and AT103 Axial Torsion Force and Torque Transducers. Paired with Interface’s proper instrumentation, the forces can be measured, graphed, and displayed during the testing stage. Read more about these solutions here.

Golf Club Swing Accuracy

Golfers undergoing training or practice wanted a system that will monitor and record their striking accuracy and swing movement. Interface created a custom made SSB Sealed Beam Load Cell that can be attached in line with the golf handle. When a golf ball is struck, force measurements are recorded, logged, and graphed using the WTS-AM-1E Wireless Strain Bridge Transmitter. The results transmit directly to the WTS-BS-6 Wireless Telemetry Dongle Base Station when connected to the customer’s PC or laptop. Using this solution, the customer was able to successfully record, graph, and log a golf player’s striking accuracy and swing movement with Interface’s wireless force system. Read more here.

Mountain Bike Load Testing

A mountain bike manufacturing company wanted a system that measures their bike frames load capacities and vibrations on the frame. They want to ensure the bike’s high quality and frame load durability during this final step of the product testing process for their future consumers. Interface suggested installing Model SSMF Fatigue Rated S-Type Load Cell, connected to the WTS-AM-1E Wireless Strain Bridge, between the mountain bike’s seat and the bike frame. This will measure the vibrations and load forces applied onto the bike frame. The results will be captured by the WTS-AM-1E and transmitted to the customer’s PC using the WTS-BS-6 Wireless Telemetry Dongle Base Station. With this system, the mountain bike manufacturing company was able to gather highly accurate data to determine that their bikes met performance standards through this final testing. Learn more here.

 

Golf Ball Tee Testing Machine

A customer wanted to ensure their golf ball automatic tee mechanism is working for their consumers- both buying their tee’s for home use or for golfing ranges. They needed a system that will sense the presence of a golf ball, which will trigger and automatically dispense new golf ball to the tee. Interface’s WMC Sealed Stainless Steel Miniature Load Cell was installed within the golf tee, which would measure the golf balls pressure on the tee when loaded or unloaded. This load cell is electrically connected to the motor which initiates the cycle to release another ball onto the tee. Force measurements can be measured using the 9330 High Speed Data Logger when connected to the customer’s PC or laptop. With Interface’s products, the customer was provided a force solution that was able to measure the presence of a golf ball on their auto-tee machine. Get more information here.

These are just a few examples of Interface’s work in the sporting goods and fitness industry. If it moves, rotates, pushes, or pulls, chances are that Interface has a solution that can help perfect the performance. To learn more about our work in sports and consumer goods.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Interface Measures Fitness Equipment with Extreme Accuracy – Case Study

Why Product Design Engineers Choose Interface

Race Car Suspension Testing

CPG Treadmill Force Measurement

CPG Gaming Simulation Brake Pedal

CPG Bike Power Pedals

CPG Bike Helmet Impact Test

Mountain Bike Shocks Testing

Fine-Tuning Testing Solutions for Championship Racing Vehicles

Considerations for Steel, Stainless Steel and Aluminum Load Cells

In the world of force measurement and load cells, one size certainly does not fit all. There are thousands of different options for size and force ranges, and our load cell configurations vary widely based on the requirements of your project. Whether you are designing and testing products for the medical industry, or measuring force deep within a mine shaft, users need to be aware of certain force product details to ensure their getting the right tools for the job.

One of the critical considerations in the load cell selection process are the materials used in the construction of the load cell. If you did not already know, load cells can be made from several different metal materials. This list includes aluminum, steel, stainless steel, titanium, Inconel®, and even glass or carbon fiber.

Each material used depends on the end-use requirements and the need for strength, resistance, hysteresis, environmental concerns, output signal, size and weight, and budget.

For this post, the focus is on the three most used materials for load cells: aluminum, steel and stainless steel. Below is an outline comparing the different factors that make one material better than the others based on the testing requirements and use case.

Aluminum

Aluminum is a light and inexpensive metal, making it the most budget-friendly of the three. It is also the easiest to machine, as it does not require a heat treatment or secondary machining. Aluminum has a higher thermal conductivity, which can be a good or bad thing depending on your need. The hysteresis of aluminum load cells is also the lowest on this list. The most prominent benefit is that it can be used for constructing smaller load cells, so if size, weight, and total volume of the load cell is a key consideration for your project, aluminum would be the metal we’d recommend.

In adverse, when dealing with aluminum load cells it is important to understand that it is the softest material on this list, which means it is more susceptible to damage. This also means that it cannot handle as much stress, resulting in a lower output signal.

Steel

Steel is a stronger metal, so it is a bit more expensive than an aluminum load cell. It is still comparatively cost-effective. It also has the highest strength of the three materials outlined here. This means it is the least susceptible to damage and has the highest signal output. It also has higher environmental resistance than aluminum and less heat conductivity, which once again can be good or bad depending on the project.

The downsides to steel include the fact that it is more complicated to machine and requires a multi-step heat treatment operation. Compared to aluminum, the hysteresis is generally slightly higher for certain load cell designs. This can be remedied with additional engineering. It also does not provide the benefit of size, weight, and total volume flexibility that lighter aluminum provides.

In our opinion, steel provides the best value for a load cell in terms of money and performance, if size, weight and total volume is not an issue with your project or application.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is a stronger material than aluminum; however, it is not as strong as steel. The output signal performance for stainless steel load cells is somewhere in the middle of steel and aluminum. The main benefit of stainless steel is that it is the best material to use in a corrosive environment because of the metal’s environmental resistance properties.

The downside to stainless steel is that it is a bit more difficult to machine but does only requires a simple heat treatment process. It is also the most expensive metal of the three and has the highest hysteresis. We would recommend stainless steel when the user needs to collect data in a hazardous environment. Read more here about our Ex Rated products.

Understanding the difference between these materials is critical to getting the most accurate data from your force tests based on the environment and the nature of the product or system you are testing.

If you’re unsure about the requirements your project demands, be sure to reach out to us at 480-948-5555, or visit our website to be connected with an application engineer. We can discuss your specific challenge and help you select the load cell with the right material for your needs.

Contributor Ken Vining, Chief Engineer at Interface