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Top 10 Trends in Test and Measurement

As a leader in force measurement, Interface is privy to the evolving landscape of test and measurement. These top 10 trends also shape our future.  Interface constantly invests in new sensor designs, technology, and tools to support our market-defining, high accuracy, quality products.

Interface offers various standard and custom sensors, instrumentation, technical support, and services for customers across various industries worldwide. The feedback we gather from the market and customers defines our priorities.

Based on the current demands of our products, requests for solution support, and incoming inquiries to our application experts, we compiled some key trends for 2023.

  1. Miniaturization: Demand for smaller, lighter sensors is increasing across industries, from robotics and drones to medical devices and lifting technologies, and continues to be the top trend in T&M. Interface’s miniature load cells enable precise measurements in compact spaces. There is also a growing use of embedding our Mini sensors into OEM products for real-time feedback, like surgical robots and fitness equipment.
  2. Multi-Axis Measurements: Analyzing forces in multiple directions is becoming essential for complex testing scenarios. Interface’s Multi-Axis Sensors facilitate comprehensive data collection and a deeper understanding of force interactions.
  3. Wireless Data Acquisition: Eliminating cables simplifies testing setups and improves data access. Interface’s wireless load cells and data acquisition systems enhance data portability and streamline testing processes. These wireless systems, including sensors like our wireless load pins and tension links, provide immediate system monitoring and maintenance technologies without cables for machines, equipment, components, and consumer products.
  4. Smart Sensors and IoT Integration: The use of sensors to make smart decisions is rising, from use in smart city projects to automating production. Interface measurement devices with easy connectivity are revolutionizing test and measurement. Interface’s sensors with digital outputs and compatibility with IoT products enable real-time data analysis, remote monitoring, and predictive maintenance.
  5. Material Characterization: Interface’s force measurement solutions are increasingly used to characterize the mechanical properties of materials, crucial for optimizing product design and performance in industries like aerospace, automotive, and construction. Material testing is also used in circular economy applications, using old materials for new inventions.
  6. Testing in Harsh Environments: Interface’s rugged and environmentally sealed sensors are finding more applications in extreme conditions, from subsea exploration to high-temperature testing. These ATEX, submersible, high-temp, and stainless steel products allow testing in critical real-world scenarios.
  7. Complex Measurement Analysis: Advanced software tools and data analysis platforms are essential for effectively interpreting and utilizing force measurement data. Interface provides software packages such as our Log100 and BlueDAQ Software to facilitate deeper insights and decision-making.
  8. Efficiency and Cost Optimization: Test and measurement processes are refined for efficiency and cost savings in product designs, building new products, and retrofitting existing machinery and equipment. Interface’s solutions contribute by facilitating faster setup, accurate data collection, and improved product quality, leading to reduced testing costs and faster time to market.
  9. R&D Driving Sustainability and Efficiency: Interface has seen an increase in customers using our sensor technologies for products and processes that positively impact the environment. This includes using Interface sensors for applications that include recycling and waste management, restructuring infrastructure, renewable energy production, electric vehicles, and battery development. Interface devices are commonly used in designing long-lasting, low-maintenance consumer products.
  10. Advancing Possibilities in Measurement with Customized Solutions: The need for customized force measurement solutions with diverse industry applications is growing. Interface’s engineering expertise and wide range of products allow it to cater to specific testing requirements and develop bespoke solutions. This includes engineered-to-order load cells, transducers, and complete system configurations like Interface Data AQ Packs.

These are just some of the trends we are observing in 2023. These trends are in addition to priority of providing industry-leading technical expertise and application support to help every customer.

With our commitment to collaboration, innovation, and accuracy, we are well-positioned to work with you as we shape the future of force measurement and contribute to the advancements in various testing and measurement projects across industries.

Interface looks forward to helping you with your inventions, research, testing, and product designs requiring precision measurement technologies in the coming year. Let’s continue the journey together.

 

Bending Beam Load Cell Basics

Bending beam load cells are a versatile and cost-effective solution for many weighing and force measurement applications. These types of miniature load cells are small in dimension, which makes them ideal solutions for compact testing environments and for embedding into machines or products for continuous performance measurement.

The use of bending beam load cells expands across industries and applications, for weighing scales, medical devices, industrial process controls, robotic designs, packaging machinery and civil engineering projects.

How Bending Beam Load Cells Work

A bending beam load cell converts a force applied to it into an electrical signal by measuring the flexure of the beam. This is done by attaching strain gages to the beam. When the beam bends, the strain gages change their resistance, which is then converted into an electrical signal by a Wheatstone bridge circuit. The output signal is proportional to the applied load.

The bending beam load cell is bolted to a support through the two mounting holes. Under the covers, you can see the large hole bored through the beam. This forms thin sections at the top and bottom surface, which concentrate the forces into the area where Interface’s proprietary strain gages are mounted on the top and bottom faces of the beam. The gages may be mounted on the outside surface, as shown, or inside the large hole.

The compression load is applied at the end opposite from the two mounting holes, usually onto a load button that the user inserts in the loading hole.

MB Miniature Beam Load Cell

MB MINI BEAM LOAD CELL

The Interface Model MB is a miniature beam load cell used in test machines and a variety of low capacity applications.

  • Standard Capacities are 5 to 250 lbf (22.2 N to 1.11 kN)
  • Proprietary Interface temperature compensated strain gages
  • Performance to 0.03%
  • Low height – 0.99 in (25.1 mm)
  • Eccentric load compensated
  • ±0.0008% /˚F – max temperature effect on output
  • Low deflection

MBI Overload Protected Miniature Beam Load Cell

Interface’s Model MBI Overload Protected Miniature Beam Load Cell has better resistance to off-axis loads then other similar load cells and is fatigue rated.

  • Standard capacities from 2 to 10 lbf (10 to 50 N)
  • Proprietary Interface temperature compensated strain gages
  • Performance to 0.03%
  • Low height – 1in max
  • ±0.0008% /˚F – max temperature effect on output
  • 10x overload protection

MBP Overload Protected Miniature Beam Load Cell

Our Model MBP series Mini load cells provide a similar performance to Model MB series with the added safeguard of internal overload protection. This patented overload protection is accomplished via hard stops that are EDM machined into the load cell flexure. This provides a greater overload protection (2.5-10lbf ±1000% of full scale capacity, 100 N ±500% of full scale capacity), giving the user added protection in more severe applications.

  • Standard capacities from 2 to 10 lbf (10 to 50 N)
  • Proprietary Interface temperature compensated strain gages
  • 10x overload protection
  • Low height – 0.99 in (25.1 mm)
  • ±0.0008% /˚F temp. effect on output
  • 5′ Integral Cable (custom lengths available upon request)
  • NIST Traceable Calibration Certificate

MBS Parallelogram Load Cell

The Interface MBS Parallelogram load cell is made of lightweight aluminum construction and highly suitable for medical and robotics applications.

  • Capacities from 2.2 to 10 lbf (9.8 to 44.5 N)
  • Lightweight
  • Nonlinearity error 0.02% FS
  • Ideal for OEM applications

Double Bending Beam Cells

A very useful variation on the bending beam design is achieved by forming two bending beams into one cell. This allows the loading fixtures to be attached at the threaded holes on the center line, between the beams, which makes the sensitive axis pass through the cell on a single line of action.

Bending Beam Load Cell Applications

Material testing is a common application for bending beam load cells. This type of miniature load cell measures the forces applied to materials with a high degree of accuracy to determine stiffness, strength and durability of the specimen.

It is quite common to find bending beam load cells in industrial automation machines and robots to precisely measure the forces required for control, safety and efficiency. In robotics specifically, bending beam load cells will measure the force applied to the robot’s arms and grippers. The data is used to control the robot’s movements and to ensure that it is not damaging the objects it is handling.

Aerospace engineering have long used bending beam load cells in design, testing and manufacturing of aircraft and spacecraft. Automotive engineering use bending beam load cells to design and test vehicles for safety and reliability.

Due to Interface’s ability to custom design bending beam solutions that meet strict size, capacity and accuracy requirements, our products are commonly used in medical and healthcare applications.

Bending Beam Application for Medical Device Testing

In this application, the medical device product lab needs to apply known forces to stent and catheters to ensure they pass all necessary strength and flexibility testing. MBP Overload Protected Beam Miniature Load Cell is placed behind the guide wire for the stent or catheter. The motor will spin the linear drive, push the load cell, and guide the wire through the testing maze. The bending beam load cell connects to the DIG-USB PC Interface Module to record and store testing data for analysis. Read more.

Bending Beam Application for Vertical Farming

Vertical farming is the production of produce in a vertical manner using smart technology systems, while indoors using an irrigation system. A wireless force measurement solution is needed to monitor the amount of water being used, to ensure the produce is being watered just the right amount. Interface suggests installing four MBI Overload Protected Miniature Beam Load Cells under each corner of the trays of the produce to accurate measure the weight during watering. A JB104SS 4-Channel Stainless Steel Junction Box connects to each bending beam cell and to a WTS-AM-1E acquisition module. The device wirelessly transmits the sum weight to the WTS-BS-1-HA Wireless Handheld Display for multiple transmitters, and the WTS-BS-6 Wireless Telemetry Dongle Base Station. Interface’s Wireless Telemetry System monitored and weighed the amount of water being used on the produce in this vertical farming system to increase yield and conversation. Read more here.

Additional Resources

How Do Load Cells Work?

The Basics Of Shear And Bending Beams

Interface Mini™ Load Cell Selection Guide

Introducing Interface Load Cell Selection Guides

The Anatomy Of A Load Cell

Mini Load Cells 101

Load Cell 101 And What You Need To Know

Introducing Interface Load Cell Selection Guides

When it comes to breadth and depth of sensor solutions, Interface has more than 35,000 products and countless options for customization. This can make choosing a specific load cell, torque transducer or instrumentation device for your next test project seem like a daunting task.

Our goal is to make your selection process easier. In addition to our global network of partners and team of Interface applications engineers, our online Interface Guides are resources designed to help you find the right measurement solution based on your exact requirements.

Recently, we have released two new selection guides to assist you in choosing the best load cell products, the Interface Load Cell Selection Guide and Interface Mini™ Load Cell Selection Guide. The two new Interface load cell selection guides offer a simple drop down menu for filtering the characteristics and model options of our extensive line of load cells. In addition, we provide a checklist for specific features that are best suited for your application and the environment in which you are utilizing the devices for testing and monitoring.

If you are not sure of what you need, we also include a helpful guide below each selection guide to walk you through the distinct types of load cells and their capabilities. Each selection will provide references to existing standard products that meet your criteria with easy links to additional specifications.

INTERFACE LOAD CELL SELECTION GUIDE

The Load Cell Selection Guide begins with criteria that will help you to narrow your options, including load cell types, options, features, and capabilities. Once you have selected one or more of the types to explore, each option will provide you a quick view of the product, capacities, and a link to detailed specifications, drawings, and datasheets. Start by selecting the model that provides the best fit based on the following types:

  • 2-Axis
  • Amplified
  • Axial Torsion
  • Calibration Grade
  • Canister
  • Column Rod End
  • Compression Only
  • Eccentric Load Compensate
  • Fatigue-Rate
  • Flange Mount
  • Intrinsically Safe
  • Moment Compensated
  • Overload Protected
  • Sealed
  • Stainless Steel
  • Submersible
  • Tension and Compression
  • Wireless

With every guide, Interface provides several technical references that are helpful in learning the ins-and-outs our load cells. As part of the Load Cell Selection Guide, you can review the technical make-up of our load cells, details about our proprietary strain gages, calibration insights, plus critical high-accuracy and quality performance parameters that set our products apart from the competition. You can also learn about the effects of temperature, moment compensation, and options available to support a variety of applications.

INTERFACE MINI LOAD CELL SELECTION GUIDE

For the Mini™ Load Cell Selection Guide, we provide a list of our popular miniature load cells with a detailed explanation of each model group. These descriptions provide an overview of the various features and capabilities of our mini products to help you choose the best solution for your use case. The products included in the Mini Load Cell Selection Guide include:

  • Load Cell Load Buttons
  • Load Washers
  • Bending Beam Load Cells
  • Double Bending Beam Load Cells
  • Sheer Beam Load Cells
  • S-Beam Load Cells
  • Overload Protected S-Cells
  • Single Point Impact Load Cells

These guides provide you with a solid baseline of information for making the right selection for your next project or for designing a sensor into your machine, product, or component. If you need further help or require an engineered-to-order or custom product, reach out to our experts. We are here to help!

For an all-time great load cell 101 reference, listen in as our top engineers detail load cell basics in this Interface Classic Series recorded webinar.

Additional Resources

How Do Load Cells Work?

Interface Load Cell Field Guide

Torque Transducer Selection Guide

Contributing Factors To Load Cell Accuracy

LowProfile Load Cells 101

Webinar Recap of Taking Measure of Miniature Load Cells

Interface Presents Load Cell Basics

ConvexBT Load Button Load Cell Featured Online at Sensor Tips

Interface’s newest product release, ConvexBT, is featured in the Sensor Tips, the respected online resource publication for electronics engineering challenges of today and tomorrow.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE COMPLETE SENSOR TIPS ARTICLE

As sensor requirements for force measurement are being utilized as miniature-sized components, the load button load cell ConvexBT is designed to give precision level performance in force measurement.  The new release is designed for accuracy and flexibility.

As shared in Industry Today, the ConvexBT capabilities far exceed what is available in these grow dimension requirements due to specifications to make devices and products more compact and convenient. Industries such as medical, industrial automation and products reliant on advanced communications technology need to validate these products with force-sensing solutions that can fit in confined spaces and provide extremely accurate data.

ConvexBT product comes in two different sizes: 3/8-inch, and 1/2-inch, which are all manufactured using 17-4 PH heat treated stainless steel. These options provide a wide measurement range from 10 to 250 lbf, a compensated temperature range of 60° to 160°F, and an operating temperature range of -40° to 175°F.

Additional specifications for ConvexBT include:

  • 2.00 ± 20% mV/V rated output
  • ± 0.25 nonlinearity as a percentage of full scale
  • ± 0.25 hysteresis as a percentage of full scale
  • ± 0.50 static error band as a percentage of full scale

Download the complete ConvexBT specifications datasheet and STP / CAD files here.

Check out introduction video for ConvexBT, the next generation in force measurement device.

Interface Mini Load Cells Growing in Product Use and Testing

One of the biggest manufacturing trends over the past decade is the miniaturization of hardware components. Reducing the size and weight of products and the components, while increasing the power of complex technology systems, is growing in use across all industry segments using force measurement in design and production.

The growing trend to utilize sensor technology in miniaturized products has been especially significant in the medical, consumer products, technology and robotics industries. These industries are looking to fit more force and measurement capabilities into a package that is the same size, or in many cases, considerably smaller than previous generations of like products.

To address this expanding trend, Interface Mini™ Load Cells were designed specifically for light touch, light weight, high accuracy, and robust performance to utilize for OEM products and smaller testing applications in confined spaces. Our miniature load cells provide exceedingly accurate measurements, similar to our full-size load cells and utilize our proprietary alloy strain gages. Capacities are available as low as 0.11 lbf / 0.5 N and as high as 100 kN.

These small-scale load cells are engineered and manufactured to provide extremely accurate output data with the same degree of precision performance as our standard load cells. OEM’s must have this sort of precision force technology because many of the devices being made today are minuscule and more complex in comparison to earlier products and testing application use cases.

In the medical device industry, innovative and often small new products are used in various life-saving applications. Any inaccuracy or miscalculation of force can have devastating effects. Take a look at how our Interface LBS Miniature Compression Load Button Load Cell and 9330 High Speed Data Logging Indicator were used to record the force measurements when designing and testing vascular clamp surgical devices. You can also read about the Vascular Clamp application note here.

In our earlier Mini Load Cells 101 blog, we discussed the features and benefits of Mini Load Cells in detail. Today, we are highlighting some of our best-selling and new Mini Load Cell solutions available from Interface.

QS48 TruckSpecial Note: A large variety of our standard miniature load cells are available today through our QS48 e-commerce site for easy online ordering. Click here to order now through our QuickShip program and get your mini’s in as little as 48 hours! If you need something specifically customized, reach out to our expert application engineers who can work with you to design custom miniature load cells that will fit your exact requirements.

INTERFACE MINI™ LOAD CELLS

MB Miniature Beam Load Cell

Model MB is a miniature beam load cell used in medical test machines and a variety of low capacity applications. Performance on this product is +/- 0.03% FS and available capacities are 5 to 250 lbf (22.2 N to 1.11 kN).

Product Features:

  • Proprietary Interface temperature compensated strain gages
  • Performance to 0.03%
  • Low height – 1-inch max
  • Eccentric load compensated
  • ±0.0008% /˚F – max temperature effect on output
  • Low deflection

MBP Overload Protected Miniature Beam Load Cell

Model MBP series load cells provide similar performance to Model MB series with the added safeguard of internal overload protection. This patented overload protection is accomplished via hard stops that are EDM machined into the load cell flexure. This provides greater overload protection (2.5-10lbf ±1000% of full-scale capacity, 100 N ±500% of full-scale capacity), giving the user added protection in more severe applications.

Product Features:

  • Proprietary Interface temperature compensated strain gages
  • 10x overload protection
  • Low height – 1in max
  • 0.0008%F temp. effect on output
  • 5′ Integral Cable (custom lengths available upon request)
  • NIST Traceable Calibration Certificate

WMC Sealed Stainless Steel Miniature Load Cell

Interface Model WMC Stainless Steel Miniature Load Cell is excellent for industrial applications because of its stainless steel, sealed, environmentally protected construction. This product is available in capacities ranging from 5 to 500 lbf (22 to 2200 N).  Submersible versions of this product are available as well.

Product features:

  • Environmentally sealed tension and compression load cell
  • Proprietary Interface temperature compensated strain gages
  • Tension and compression
  • Small Size
  • Stainless Steel Construction
  • Submersible

SSM and SSM2 Sealed S-Type Load Cells

Model SSM is a moderately priced highly-accurate sealed load cell for test machines and other general purpose applications. This product is available in capacities ranging from 50 to 10K lbf (200 N to 50 kN).

Product Features:

  • Proprietary Interface temperature compensated strain gages
  • Environmentally sealed
  • 0.02% non-repeatability
  • 0.0008%/°F (0.0015%/°C) temp. effect on output
  • 0.025% creep
  • Tension and compression

LBM Compression Load Button Load Cell

Model LBM Compression Load Button is very popular.  It is constructed from stainless steel and has a small size. This product is available capacities range from 25 lbf up to 50K lbf.

Product Features:

  • Temperature compensated
  • Integral load button
  • Small diameter
  • Environmentally sealed
  • Stainless steel

LBS Miniature Load Button Load Cell

Model LBS Miniature Compression Load Button is constructed from stainless steel and has a small size. This product is available capacities range from 5 lbf up to 1K lbf (22.2 N to 4.45 kN).

Product Features:

  • Temperature compensated
  • Integral load button
  • Small diameter
  • From 0.12″ height

LWPF1 Press Force Load Washer Load Cell

Model LWPF1 Press Force Load Cell is one of several load washer load cells available from Interface. It features a large thru-hole and short overall height. This product is available in capacities ranging from 2 kN to 100 kN (450 to 22.5K lbf).

Product Features:

  • Short height
  • Large thru hole
  • For press-force monitoring

BPL Pedal Load Cell

BPL Pedal Load CellThe Model BPL is a very LowProfile® load cell is used for measuring force on brake pedals. Interface Model BPL has the lowest sensitivity to off-center loading available and will outperform any competitive model.

Product Features:

  • Lowest nonlinearity and hysteresis of any brake pedal load cell – < 0.05%
  • Ultra-low height
  • Low sensitivity to off-axis loads
  • Mounts directly to pedal with included strap(s)
  • Interchangeable mounting plates
  • For use with gas, brake or clutch pedal
  • Storage case included

There are more than 30 different Interface Mini Load Cells and sensors available, in addition to our ability to provide modified and custom Mini Load Cells solutions. To find the Interface Mini that works for your needs, or to learn more about our expanding lineup of load cells and torque transducers, please visit /products/.

Load Button Load Cells 101

Manufactured devices, technology advancements and product designs are getting smaller and smaller as innovations demand less space to do more for their consumers. As engineers are designing products with miniaturized components, they also need high quality test and measurement solutions that produce accurate results within these smaller testing spaces.

Interface has created a series Load Button Load Cells to meet these exact requirements. These load buttons are designed and manufactured to specifically fit into small and confined spaces, providing the precision-based measurements as expected from larger load cells.

Interface Load Button Load Cells are compact strain gauge-based sensors used in a wide variety of applications, including test and measurement and for general measurement applications. Interface standard LBM and LBS Load Button Load Cells can fulfill the need for compression force measurements at a very respectable precision level for most applications.

Product diameters range from 1 inch to 3 inches, with heights from 0.39 inch to 1.5 inches. The shaped load button load cell has a spherical radius to help confine misaligned loads to the primary axis of the cell. And while these products are small, they are capable of measuring compression forces from 10 lbf all the way to 50,000 lbf. The spherical radius of our Load Cell Load Buttons also help to confine misaligned loads to the primary axis of the cell.

Interface Load Button Load Cells 

Interface’s Custom Solutions Team and Product Engineers can also help to design a specific size and capacity to fit our customer’s exact requirements. Let us know what you need by contacting us here.

Load Button Load Cells Functionality and Proper Use

Applications that use compression loads on load button load cells requires an understanding of the distribution of forces between surfaces of various shapes and finishes.

The first and most important rule is to always avoid applying a compression load flat-to-flat from a plate to the top surface of a load button hub. The reason for this is simple, it’s impossible to maintain two surfaces parallel enough to guarantee that the force will end up being centered on the primary axis of the load button load cell. Any slight misalignment, even by a few micro-inches, could move the contact point off to one edge of a hub, thus inducing a large moment into the measurement.

Minor misalignments merely shift the contact point slightly off the centerline. In addition to compensating for misalignment, the use of a load button load cell of the correct spherical radius is necessary to confine the stresses at the contact point within the limits of the materials. Generally, load button load cells and bearing plates are made from hardened tool steel, and the contacting surfaces are ground to a finish of 32µ inch RMS. If you use too small of a radius it will cause a failure of the material at the contact point, and a rough finish will result in galling and wear of the loading surfaces.

Interface Load Button Load Cells in the Real World 

The evolving world of technology and product design has created a high demand for these types of small and accurate testing equipment. Innovative industries are looking at new ways to fit more capabilities into a single device that is the same size or even smaller. OEM applications that require this type of testing equipment include medical devices, drones, industrial automation, packaging and robotics.

We have highlighted a few examples of how Interface Load Button Load Cells have been used in the medical industry to solve complex challenges related to measuring compression force in confined spaces.

Measuring Vascular Clamp Force

A customer in the medical industry wanted to test various types of vascular clamps to see which type would generate the best clamping force for surgery. Using a Model LBS Load Cell, the clamps were secured onto the compression button. A Model 9330 High Speed Data Logging Indicator provided compression force measurements and allowed the customer to determine the most appropriate clamp type. Read the full application use case here.

Optimizing Surgical Stapler Force

Another customer needed to optimize the design of their surgical stapler to make it easier and more efficient for a medical professional to use. The original equipment manufacturer mounted the surgical stapler onto a test rig to enable force verification, and then connected a Model LBMU Compression Load Cell Button to a Model 9890 Load Cell Indicator. The indicator would collect compression force data from the stapler, and that data was then analyzed to allow the OEM to determine the design changes needed to reduce the amount of force applied to use the stapler.  Learn more about this application here.

For more information on our expanding lineup of Load Button Load Cells, see the overview below. In addition, say tuned in to the IQ Blog for an exciting announcement about new Interface Load Button Load Cell technology.  Most standard Load Button Load Cells are available to ship within 2 business days. Contact us for more information or visit our QS48 now.

Click here to see the full line of Load Button Load Cells.