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Interface Solutions for Production Line Engineers

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.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

IoT Industrial Robotic Arm App Note

Quality Engineers Require Accurate Force Measurement Solutions

Vision Sensor Technology Increases Production Reliability

Force Measurement Solutions for Advanced Manufacturing Robotics

Robotics and Automation are Changing Modern Manufacturing at Interface

Industrial-Automation-Brochure-1

 

Data Acquisition Systems 101

Engineers and testing professionals use data acquisition systems to enable smart decisions. The data retrieved through DAQ systems empower users to identify points of failure, optimize performance, and create efficiencies in products and processes.

When it comes to measuring force, the accuracy and reliability of the sensor is a critical component to receiving quality data. The data acquired from measurement devices, including load cells, torque transducers, and other types of force sensors, is valuable for product development, research, and robust testing to ensure performance and durability of all types of innovations. Ultimately, utilizing precision-based data provides enhanced control and response for all types of applications and use cases. Interface provides a wide range of data acquisition instrumentation that is easily paired with our force measurement products.

By definition, a data acquisition system is a collection of components used to acquire data via analog signals and converting them to digital form for storage, research, and analysis. Data acquisition systems, also called DAQ systems, typically are made up of sensors, signal conditioners, converters, plus computer hardware and software for logging and analysis. Interface experts are available to help pair the transducers with the right instrumentation.

The data acquired through the measurement device is only useful if it is logged for analysis and traceability. This is where instrumentation, in particular DAQ systems come into play, in not only transferring data, but also obtaining the right type of data in a format and data transfer method that works with existing user systems.

Data acquisition that utilizes analog output has long been the standard in the industry. As new requirements for use cases and applications grow, test and measurement professionals and engineers find these systems advantageous because of the lower cost, easy integration, and scalability. They also like the advantage of daisy-chaining multiple sensors together on a single cable run to maximize the amount of data through single tests. More data improves the quality of analysis and monitoring.

Advancements in sensor technologies coincide with growing demands for digitalization and to gather more testing data. This is seen using multi-axis sensors, along with requirements for multi-channel acquisition that can integrate into existing systems already designed with specific digital connections and protocols.

In addition to improving speed of data output, acquisition systems offer an abundance of value-added benefits. This is primarily due to the digital signal, as they are less susceptible to noise and are more secure. The systems also typically have built in error detection. Digital signals are best for transmitting signals across longer distances or when you need to allow for simultaneous multi-directional transmissions. Many people like the ease of integration, both into existing networks as well as with other testing devices.

Data acquisition systems and accessories come in many shapes and sizes, wired and wireless and there are also a handful of different software options in different systems. All these various products such as digital instruments, input and output modules, cables, monitors, and accessories. Interface offers a range of DAQ products, including full systems including the sensors.

Interface Complete Data Acquisition Systems

BlueDAQ Data QA Pack

Force sensors can easily connect via the BlueDAQ Family Data AQ Pack for fast and accurate data acquisition. This solution provides a convenient way to view the test results from transducers including single axis, dual axis, 3-axis, and 6-axis multi-axis sensors. Check out our BX8-HD44 BlueDAQ Series Data Acquisition System for Multi-Axis Sensors with Lab Enclosure.

T-USB-VS Rotary Torque Transducer Data AQ Pack

Connecting dynamic torque transducers to the T-USB Rotary Torque Transducer Data Acquisition Pack will provide you with convenient way to view the test results for your torque transducers that have internal USB functionality.

WTS Wireless Data AQ Pack

Utilizing the popular WTS Wireless Data Acquisition Pack provides convenient wireless communication with speeds up to 200 samples per second. Learn more in our Interface Wireless Telemetry System Review. See the complete line Interface WTS here.

DIG-USB PC Interface Module Data AQ Pack

Interface’s DIG-USB Data Acquisition Pack enables a straightforward way to view the test results our load cells or torque transducers. Check out the popular DIG-USB Output Module and the DIG-USB-F Fast USB Output Module.

9325 Portable Display Data AQ Pack

Interface’s 9325 Data Acquisition Pack makes your system portable. The 9325 allows simple display of strain bridge based measurements such as load cells, torque transducers, and other mV/V output transducers with sensitivity up to +/-1 V/V.

INF-USB-VS3 PC Interface Module Data AQ Pack

Our INF-USB-VS3 Data Acquisition Pack connects Interface mV/V load cells or torque transducers to provide real-time data analysis.  Here is more information about the INF-USB3 Universal Serial Bus Single Channel PC Interface Module.

Interface Data Acquisition Systems are modular. We offer the complete system, including enclosures, along with single components to complete a system. Consult with our application engineers to learn what system would be best for your test and measurement programs.

Data AQ Pack Brochure

 

 

 

Interface Fall 2022 Customer Survey Results

Interface recently conducted our semi-annual customer survey. We appreciate everyone that took time to share their experience based on collaborating with us over the past year. We prioritize all the individual and collective input and share all feedback and results across our entire company. Customer experience is a top initiative at Interface, and direct feedback is a critical measure of how we are doing to meet and hopefully exceed expectations.

We asked six questions in the latest survey to gather valuable insight and feedback about products, vendor selection, lead times and overall satisfaction. For four years, we have asked the most popular and standard question that measures customer satisfaction and reliability across all industries, “How likely are you to refer Interface to a friend or colleague.

The importance of this question is to measure consistency. The responses to this question tell us how we are performing based on customer loyalty and brand recognition. The results of how people answer this question produce what is known as a Net Promoter Score (NPS). For this past survey, this question resulted in a +52 NPS. We are incredibly pleased to learn that the majority of respondents did select 10, on a scale of 0-10. We value the confidence.

Our trend for the past eight NPS surveys tells us that we are consistent in how we are operating as a company based on the feedback from our customers. Interface remains in the higher rankings of a NPS, where top performing companies are above +30. Most respondents also selected they were “exceedingly satisfied” with Interface when we asked, “How satisfied are you with Interface and your customer experience? to measure overall customer satisfaction. What we also learn in every survey that is there is always room to improve. As a customer-centric company, we are equally focused on being quality-driven as a precision manufacturer of force measurement solutions on which you can depend for accuracy and quality.

We also asked a question related to lead times on products. We learned that the faster we can deliver the products you need, the better. This is helpful as we plan our production for 2023 and beyond. We’ve been manufacturing more of our standard load cell product inventory for availability in our QuickShip48 program. The QS48 program is an online ordering program that guarantees delivery within 48 business hours. We are continually growing stock of these products that do not require any customization. Be sure to check out the QS48 products available here.

Our team also asked the Fall 2022 Customer Satisfaction Survey respondents to tell us what criteria they use for selecting a force measurement product and service company. We asked, “What factors help you decide to continue using Interface as a supplier of force measurement solutions? Here are the top five selected category responses:

  • #1 – Quality of Products
  • #2 – Accuracy Specifications of Measurement Devices
  • #3 – Past Buying Experiences (Relationship)
  • #4 – Services
  • #5 – Breadth of Product Offering

The other selections included: Customization and Modification of Products, Convenience, Lead Times, Product Fit and Test & Measurement Expertise.

Customer experience matters to us. We do value all the input and will use this direct feedback to measure how we do in growing your loyalty and satisfaction in 2023 and beyond.

Strain Gage Design Under Eccentric Load WRSGC Presentation

By Ashlesa Mohapatra, product design engineer, Interface

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.

Quality Engineers Require Accurate Force Measurement Solutions

In engineering and manufacturing, when introducing a product onto the market the requirements and regulations can be immense. Each industry has strict guidelines to ensure safety, durability, quality, and overall customer satisfaction. To meet these requirements, most product and component maker will have experienced quality engineers to help meet the necessary requirements in production.

Quality Engineers work in a variety of industries including automotive, transportation, infrastructure, aerospace and defense, industrial automation, medical and healthcare devices, and consumer product manufacturing. Their role is to monitor, test, and report on the quality. They are also instrumental in strategy, process development, and increasing output. Depending on the position, they are responsible for inspecting and testing raw materials, components, mechanical systems, hardware and software, as well as final products.

The Quality Engineer works with manufacturers, developers, project managers. Commonly, they are aligned with quality assurance and quality control teams to develop processes, test procedures and implement systems that ensure manufactured products and fabrication processes meet quality standards, safety regulations, and satisfy all stakeholders. They are the safeguard for companies that are creating, building and distributing products and materials.

Accuracy of testing and measurement data is fundamental to quality engineers. Critical to quality assurance and control processes, quality engineers rely heavily on all types of Interface high-accuracy load cells, weighing systems, and instrumentation for force measurement quality systems. Manufacturing quality engineers rely on products from Interface to test both products and equipment on a manufacturing line to ensure they perform reliably and meet certain safety standards.

Force measurement systems also make role of a quality engineer easier through the use of accurate data. This is because force measurement often enables automated, real-time monitoring of many processes used in the making of things. Interface precision load cells are used to monitor assembly line machine processes, test and monitor automation equipment like robotics, and weighcheck systems, and ruggedized equipment for quality control onsite and in remote locations.

Included below are a few examples of how force measurement systems are used in quality engineering.

Medical Device Interventional Guidewire Quality Inspection

A medical device manufacturer needs to do quality checks on threaded ends of their interventional guidewire devices. The threaded end of the guidewire contains an extremely small 000-120 thread that needs to be tested with go and no-go gauges in order to see if it will mate with other critical subassemblies. They requested a custom made turnkey test stand that is both inexpensive and flexible for varying lengths and models of guidewires.  Interface suggests a system where the customer can axially load and insert the guidewire through the MRT Miniature Flange Style Reaction Torque Transducer, secure it, and use an automated stepper motor on a slide base to test the thread quality. When in use, the MRT measures the torque magnitudes of both no-go and go gauges which indicate quality of the threaded guidewire.

Snack Weighing and Packaging Machine Quality Monitoring

One aspect of quality in the consumer packaged goods space is ensuring equal distributions of individually wrapped snack bags such as chips or candy. When snack manufacturing brand wanted to weigh the amount of their snacks that is automatically dispersed into the bags during the packaging process, Interface offered a solution. We suggested multiple SPI Platform Scale Load Cells, and installed them 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. 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 utilizing this machine.

Vehicle Crash Test Load Cell Wall Quality Inspection

A facility wanted to do crash tests on their vehicles for quality inspection. There are multiple tests such as structural testing of the vehicle, developmental tests, and regulatory and compliance tests and they needed to measure the force of the vehicle crash tests, on all axes. Interface’ suggested using multiple 3A400 3-Axis Force Load Cells, and attach it to the back of a cement crash wall. When connected to the BX8-HD44 Interface BlueDAQ Series Data Acquisition System, force result measurements will be recorded and displayed with the customer’s PC or laptop. The customer was able to measure the force of impact for all of their different vehicle crash testing demonstrations.

The applications of force measurements for quality engineers are large, and the necessity of obtaining this data is critical to creating, safe, reliable and high-quality products.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Interface Solutions for Material Testing Engineers

Why Civil Engineers Prefer Interface Products

Why Product Design Engineers Choose Interface

The Five Critical Factors of Load Cell Quality

Our Reputation is Defined by Our Industry-Leading Quality

Interface Solutions for Research and Development

Top Five Reasons Why Calibration Matters

Applied metrology is the measurement science developed in relation to manufacturing and other processes, ensuring the suitability of measurement instruments, their calibration, and quality control.

Calibration is the practice of evaluating and adjusting equipment to ensure precision and accuracy. Calibration for force measurement determines whether a sensor is working properly, as well if it needs repair or replacement.

Calibration is critical in the application of test and measurement because it provides controlled methods using equipment and systems that ensure reliability, accuracy, and quality.

We recently shared in our Accurate Report on Calibration seminar, the top five reasons why calibration matters. Below highlights each why.

#1 Reason Why Calibration Matters – Understanding Uncertainty

  • Measurement uncertainty is defined as an estimate of the range of measured values within which the true value lies or, alternatively, the degree of doubt about a measured value.
  • In every application, there will be an uncertainty requirement on the force measurement.
  • The equipment used to make the measurement must be traceable to a realization of the SI Newton unit of force within this required uncertainty.

#2 Reason Why Calibration Matters – Quality and Specifications

  • Calibration ensures the transducer is performing to listed specification.
  • It avoids costly impacts or escapes to manufactured goods and products.
  • Maintaining quality of manufactured device to original specifications is an important reason why calibration matters.
  • It certainly minimizes the cost of poor quality.

#3 Reason Why Calibration Matters – Minimize Downtime

  • Proactive maintenance will always take less time than reactive problem solving and repairs.
  • Identify and repair or replace system components before they fail through regular calibration.
  • Plan calibration intervals to minimize downtime, as a schedule is preventative maintenance.

#4 Reason Why Calibration Matters – Data Accuracy

  • All load cells are subject to potential performance degradation due to mistreatment or drift, impacting data integrity.
  • Pre and post test verification provide assurances in data validity.
  • Confidence in critical measurements is imperative.

#5 Reason Why Calibration Matters – Accreditation and Certifications

  • Calibrations provide adherence to quality management systems and requirements, especially ISO certifications and compliance.
  • It assures that measurements gathered within the valid calibration period are reliable, trustworthy, and defensible.
  • Traceability of measurement is guaranteed with certifications.

To start, every sensor Interface manufactures is calibrated and certified in our fully accredited calibration labs before it leaves our facilities. We do so under ISO 17025 standards with full NIST traceability for quality assurance. Annually, we provide more than 100,000 calibrations on force and torque measurement devices.

We also provide complete calibration services and repair on any sensor we make, as well as other manufacturer’s equipment. Our experienced calibration lab technicians offer a complete range of calibration services for load cells, torque transducers and other force measurement devices, including:

  • Scheduled Repairs for Ongoing Inventory Management
  • RMA Tracking and Permanent Archive of Test Data
  • Custom Calibration Services
  • Certification

Calibration is a necessity as any product can degrade, resulting in a decline in accuracy. Interface recommends every device go through a calibration service annually to maintain the integrity of the sensor performance. If you need assistance in scheduling a calibration service or requesting help, contact us here.

We also offer a range of calibration grade equipment for labs and to use for self-service calibration.  This includes our verification load frames, calibration systems, calibration grade load cells and lab instrumentation. Read Calibration Grade Load Cells and Systems and Additional Interface Calibration Grade Solutions to learn about these and other products.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Recap of Accurate Report on Calibration

Interface Calibration 101

GS-SYS04 Gold Standard® Portable E4 Machine Calibration System

Shunt Calibration 101

Extending the Calibration Range of a Transducer

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Exploring Interface Capabilities and Differentiators

Interface is the largest producer of load cells defined by a particularly important core differentiator. The Interface difference is precision.

How do we maintain this standard of excellence? Interface is directed by our foundational 4-pillars for success: quality, service, accuracy, and innovation. This applies to anything and everything that we do, including manufacturing premium force measurement products, engineering and design, custom solutions, providing calibration and repair, and in our commitment to service.

Interface has long been known for providing accuracy-based sensor technologies, innovative solutions, engineering excellence and quality products that our customers trust. We have detailed our breadth and depth of capabilities and differentiators for our products that are designed to serve customers across a growing number of industries.

In our online capabilities statement, you can find:

  • Interface differentiators
  • Interface core products and expertise
  • Certifications
  • Industry NAICS and PSC Codes
  • Interface’s Company Snapshot

Our customers around the world are innovators, market leaders, boundary-breaking, finding ways to do things differently, make things safer, improve products and create new all through the measurement of force. We provide solutions for test and measurement, as well as OEM. This includes companies in aerospace and defense, automotive and vehicle, medical devices, energy, industrial automation, entertainment and amusement, agriculture, maritime, infrastructure, and equipment manufacturing.

As world’s trusted leader in force measurement technology, design, and manufacturing, it is important that we guarantee the highest quality performance of load cells, torque transducers, multi-axis sensors, wireless telemetry, instrumentation, calibration and more. To do this, it is the Interface people, technology, manufacturing, engineering, and force measurement solutions that make the difference.

Here are just a few of Interface’s key differentiators and capabilities:

  • PROPRIETARY STRAIN GAGES: We make our strain gages and assemble them in the same buildings as our final sensor testing is performed in-house to ensure the quality and accuracy.
  • THE STANDARD: Interface is the standard for all load cells. Since 1968, our LowProfile® load cells have been used throughout the world because of their accuracy and dependability.
  • CALIBRATION: Our trademarked Gold Standard Calibration System is the industry ‘gold standard’ for test and measurement.
  • SYSTEMS: Interface is the only major load cell company offering a comprehensive system for customers to calibrate their own load cells.
  • CERTIFICATIONS: Every load cell we make is individually calibrated and tested through a series of performance tests before it leaves our facility.
  • STANDARD, ENGINEERED-TO-ORDER AND CUSTOM: We design and build our force measurement solutions, delivering the broadest variety of available options in the industry.
  • TEAM: Our team is an extended network of professionals that design, build, administer, sale and support our customers with the best force measurement solutions that fit their exact requirements based on expertise and experience.

You can see all the Interface differentiators in our capabilities statement.

We’ are proud of the Interface brand, our five-decade legacy as a leader in the industry and fact that we are a women-owned manufacturing company. We guarantee our products quality because every employee and partner take pride in our work. It is our dedication to deliver on our promise.

Capabilities-Statement

Types of Force Measurement Tests 101

There are distinct types of force tests that engineers, product designers, manufacturers, and test labs perform to accurately measure factors that control quality, safety, and reliability.

Testing force helps to qualify how something will react when applying load, either by a normal application or by pulling and pushing it fails. The type of force measurement classifications are compression, fracture, tension, flexure, and shear.

Interface provides a broad range of solutions for static and dynamic force measurement tests including standard and custom transducers, instrumentation, accessories, frames, calibration equipment and other components used for in force testing.

The most common categories of force testing include:

  • Tensile testing
  • Shear testing
  • Compression testing
  • Fatigue testing
  • Torque testing
  • Hardness testing
  • Static testing
  • Mechanical strength testing
  • Material testing
  • Proof load testing
  • End of line testing

There are variations to each of these test classifications, such as cycle testing is often a subset of fatigue and mechanical strength tests. Hardness testing is frequently referred to as nondestructive testing. Initial R&D tests typically center around choosing materials, strength and durability tests, compression ergonomic and abrasion tests.

Here are the general characterizations of the most popular types of force tests.

Tensile Test

Tensile strength is the ability of a metal to withstand a pulling apart tension stress. Performing a tensile test, sometimes referred to as tension testing, applies uniaxial load to a test bar and gradually increasing the load until it breaks. The measurement of the load is against the elongation using an extensometer. The tensile data is analyzed by using a stress-strain curve. Interface load cells are commonly used for various tensile tests when accuracy of measurement matters.

Compression Test

Compression is the result of forces pushing towards each other. The compression test is like the tensile test. Place the object in a testing machine, apply a load and record the deformation. A compressive stress-strain curve is drawn from the data. Interface provides load cells that measure compression-only or tension and compression measurements from the same device.

Torque Test

Torque measurement determines how an object will react when it is turned or twisted. There are two common use cases, fastening tests of objects or by testing rotating parts in an assembly. The two types of torque measurement are reaction and in-line, which are important when selecting the type of torque transducer to use in your test. The wrong torque can result in the assembly failing due to several problems, whether that is by torque testing bolts or engine parts. Parts may not be assembled securely enough for the unit to function properly, or threads may be stripped because the torque was too high, causing the unit to fail. Torque is a force producing rotation about an axis. This type of testing is also extremely popular in automotive to measure a variety of components.

Shear Test

Shear strength is the ability to resist a “sliding past” type of action when parallel, but slightly off-axis, forces, applied in the test. Shear force is directional force that is over the top of a surface or part. Shear is measured by tension or compression using a shear or bending beam load cell.

Hardness Test

Hardness testing, which measures the resistance of any material against penetration, is performed by creating an indentation on the surface of a material with a hard ball, a diamond pyramid or cone and then measuring the depth of penetration. Hardness testing is categorized as a non-destructive test since the indentation is small and may not affect the future usefulness of the material. There are a wide variety of hardness testing types as well.

Examples of Testing Types

Compression Test Example

Interface’s customer wanted to measure the amount of compression force a piece of candy could withstand to ensure its label is marked correctly. The purpose of the test was to correctly calibrate the equipment to provide the same stamping force each time without breaking the candy apart. An Interface Model WMC Mini Load Cell and 9330 Battery Powered High Speed Data Logging Indicator are used to measure the results. Read more about this compression test here.

Torque Measurement Example

In this example torque testing accurately measures the forced needed to securely fasten a bolt. This type of test is critical in highly regulated industries like aerospace and automotive to ensure every screw and bolt are not over or under-tightened. Interface’s LWCF Clamping Force Load Cell along with Interface’s INF-USB3 Universal Serial Bus Single Channel PC Interface Module provide a solution that monitors the force being applied during bolt tightening.

Shear Test Example

This example shows how aerospace manufactures use shear testing to measure the affects of wind as it moves past the wings, hull, and other components of a plane. Interface measured this force using a Model 6A154 6-Axis Load Cell mounted in the floor of the wind tunnel, and connected  to the scaled model by a “stalk”. A BX8-AS Interface BlueDAQ Series Data Acquisition System was connected to the sensor to collect data.

As products become more complex and technologically advanced, the test and measurement industry must provide solutions to monitor a wide variety of factors. This is no different in force measurement.

Interface has been involved in every type of force measurement type across a variety of applications both large and small. To learn more about our more than 36,000 product SKUs designed to conduct all these tests, from single load cells and torque transducers to complete testing rigs and systems. We also provide calibration services for all types of force measurement transducers. Contact us if you are unsure which force measurement solution best fits your testing plan.

Additional Resources

Tensile Testing for 3D Materials

Material Tensile Testing

Interface Solutions for Material Testing Engineers

Bike Handlebar Fatigue Testing

Interface Specializes in Fatigue-Rated Load Cells

Specifying Accuracy Requirements When Selecting Load Cells

Spring Compression Testing App Note

Insights in Torque Testing Featured in Quality Magazine

Interface Solutions for Material Testing Engineers

Force measurement inherently is part of all types of engineering throughout the entire development process of products, structures, consumer goods, and the materials used to construct them.

In the beginning of the design and development processes, material testing engineers utilize sensor technologies and instrumentation to measure the durability, fatigue, safety, and quality of the materials used for their projects.

The role of a materials engineer is to develop, process, combine, and test materials to be used in production. Based on data gathered, combined with their expertise, the materials engineer will identify and recommend the appropriate materials for specific applications. Ultimately, they are the foundation of product development because it is their responsibility to select materials based on the use of the product, its ability to perform its task and function, and durability of materials to hold up over time. They also test for environmental impact and exposure considerations.

Five Categories of Material Testing

  • Mechanical testing
  • Testing for thermal properties
  • Testing for electrical properties
  • Testing for resistance to corrosion, radiation, and biological deterioration
  • Nondestructive testing (NDT)

Force measurement is most often used is in the material testing category of mechanical testing. This applies to testing materials used in all types of industries, including infrastructure, aerospace, automotive, industrial automation, manufacturing of consumer goods and in the machines used to assemble products. In mechanical testing, Interface sensors are commonly used to conduct:

  • Hardness Testing
  • Tensile Testing
  • Impact Testing
  • Fracture Toughness Testing
  • Creep Testing
  • Fatigue Testing
  • Nondestructive Testing

Interface Material Test Engineer Solutions

Material testing has been around since the first invention, to determine quality, durability and resilience of products and parts. What has changed over the centuries and decades is the sophistication of force testing and measurement. Interface’s robust line of load cells, torque transducers, multi-axis sensors, and instrumentation are used in about every industry for material testing. If it must be measured, Interface has a solution.

Interface’s force measurement products are being used to gather data from testing materials in applications used for industrial automation, structures, medical devices, vehicles on the ground and in the air, packaging, sports equipment and more. Material testing engineers ensure reliability and safety of the chosen materials. Here are examples of how material testing engineers use our products.

Tensile Testing of 3D Printing Materials

Interface was contacted by a test engineering team in search of a solution for conducting a tensile force test on different 3D printing materials until failure. They wanted to test several types of material types. The 3D printing materials to be tested to see how it performed included PLA, PETG and ASA.  The test of the materials was to assess strength, quality, ductility, and stiffness. Interface supplied our most popular load cell, the 1200 Standard Precision LowProfile™ Load Cell, to install into the engineer’s test frame. The tensile test gathered the force results from the load cell that was synced through Interface’s instrumentation solution, the INF-USB3 Universal Serial Bus Single Channel PC Interface Module. The results were displayed on their computer with supplied software from Interface. Read more about this material testing application solution here.

Bike Frame Fatigue Testing

Fatigue testing is a critical material test used to ensure the materials used in a product hold up over time. A bike manufacturing company wanted to perform a fatigue test on their bike frames to analyze the strength of their frames, ensure durability and high-quality standards. Interface suggests installing Model 1000 Fatigue-Rated LowProfile™ Load Cell to the customer’s bike frame fatigue tester. This load cell will provide the customer highly accurate results through the fatigue cycling. Results are collected using the INF-USB3 Universal Serial Bus Single Channel PC Interface Module and displayed on the customer’s computer with Interface’s provided software. The bike manufacturing company successfully had their bikes undergo fatigue frame testing, receiving highly accurate results with Interface’s load cell and instrumentation. Watch the fatigue testing of the bike frame in this animated app note.

Spring Compression Testing

A customer wanted to evaluate the performance of their springs, but also the functionality of their spring test stand with a wireless solution. Interface suggested using one of their WTS-5200XYZ 3-Axis Force Moment Load Cell which has three integral WTSAM-1E Wireless Transmitters and installing it into the customer’s spring compression frame. The WTS-5200XYZ 3-Axis Force Moment Load Cell measured the force compression of the spring. The integral WTS-AM-1E Wireless Strain Bridge Transmitter Modules transmitted and displayed the information wirelessly to the LCCAXXX Wireless Instrument Enclosure. Using Interface’s solution, the customer was able to wirelessly get compression results on the spring being tested. They were also able to verify their spring compression test stand was working effectively.

Selecting the right material is critical to product develop and material testing engineers rely on Interface due to the accuracy and reliability of our solutions. If you have questions on what products are best suited for your material testing applications, please contact us.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Tensile Testing for 3D Materials

Furniture Fatigue Cycle Testing

Bike Handlebar Fatigue Testing App Note

Aircraft Wing Fatigue App Note

Material Tensile Testing

Why Civil Engineers Prefer Interface Products

Beam Stress Test