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Advancing Auto Testing with Interface Measurement Solutions

What classifies as the automotive industry involves a complex and dynamic mix of suppliers, makers and designers of all types of vehicles, as well as prototypes of the changing demands and requirements of consumers both big and small.  Whether we look at where we are today with hybrid and electric motors, or autonomous rigs and people movers in test now, one thing that is constant is Interface’s role in providing vital measurement solutions for testing and real-time performance monitoring in the automotive and vehicle markets.

Automotive is one of the industries in which Interface has worked with since the introduction of our first load cells more than five decades ago. Force and torque measurement is critical to testing at every stage of design and manufacturing. Our sensor solutions, instrumentation and accessories are used across all facets of component development, including the testing of engines and exterior bodies, tires, batteries, fuel pumps and more.

Interface products are used for crash walls, brake testing, energy storage tests in the lab, seat belt and headrest testing, just to name a few. The fact is torque and force play a major role in making the vehicle move and ensuring it’s safe for drivers and pedestrians alike.  Interface is showcasing some of these solutions at the upcoming Automotive Test Expo. Registration to attend is free.

As the industry evolves, so do we. In fact, our advanced product AxialTQ was created for the automotive industry for testing of EVs. This revolutionary torque transducer is now used in all types of line production, assembly and part, including:

  • Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) Lab Testing and End of Line (EOL) Testing
  • Drivetrain Lab Testing
  • Automotive Accessory Lab Testing
  • Electric Vehicle (EV) Motor EOL and EV Lab Testing

For more about this dynamic product, you can watch our latest AxialTQ Webinar here.

Interface supplies high quality, precision load cells to automotive manufacturers, including custom one-off sensors and special application-specific designs. Standard off-the-shelf models such as our 2400 series , our 3200 series Stainless Steel LowProfile™ Load Cells, and our WMC Miniature Load Cell family are popular with machine builders and used anywhere a rugged stainless steel load cell is required.

Research and development facilities with precision applications favor our 1200 Series LowProfile™ Load Cells with their special moment compensated design. These are used in auto manufacturer assembly lines in a variety of production monitoring and verification applications. Our exceedingly accurate LowProfile™ Load Cells have been used in NASCAR and IndyCar garages for testing individual springs and entire vehicle suspensions.

A moment compensated Interface load cell has as much as 1,000 times less error from side load or moment as our competitor’s products. And many of our sensors feature 10x mechanical overload protection, which helps protect against unintended loads. Our Model BPL Load Cell is a very LowProfile™ load cell used for measuring force on gas, brakes or clutch pedals.

With a wide range of automotive vehicle load cell sensors, force and torque measurement capabilities, and features such as moment compensation, temperature compensation, and mechanical overload protection, Interface can help you design a solution perfect for your automotive application. In fact, here are a few examples of our products in action.

Airbag Connector Testing

Testing airbag connectors functionality is needed ensure perfect deployment to meet the ultimate test of saving lives. There are eight to twelve connectors installed in each vehicle, and tests are needed to be made in order to clarify the connectors are working effectively. The amount of force needs to be tested in order to see when an electrical current has triggered use.  Utilizing the WMC Sealed Stainless Steel Miniature Load Cell to the actuator of the test rig. The airbag connector is held in place at the bottom of the test rig. Forces are applied and measured using the 9330 High Speed Data Logger as the connector is pushed down to latch together.  Read more about this use case.

Seat TestingSeat Testing

During testing there was consistent overloading and replacing of the single-axis load cells. After a thorough inspection, it was discovered that this was due to bending moments that had never been quantified so a multi-axis sensor was defined as the best solution.  An Interface Model 6A68C 6-Axis load cell was installed in their existing test machine. The 6-Axis Sensor was intentionally oversized allowing the customer to measure the unidentified bending moments while preventing any damage. Data Acquisition and Amplifier BX8 was used to graph, log, & store the data collected at the sensor. Read more here.

Automotive Headrest Testing

When a manufacturer for automotive head rests wanted to test the durability of their products by conducting several fatigue tests and force tests on the head rests to make sure it meets durability and high-quality standards, Interface was able to help. The solution was to install Model 1000 Fatigue-Rated LowProfile™ Dual Bridge Load Cell to the customer’s actuator mechanism. This load cell is perfect for fatigue testing and reports highly accurate results through the fatigue cycling. The results are collected by using the SI-USB4 4-Channel USB Interface Module, which synchronizes the data directly from the load cell and the string pot (for measuring distance) to the customer’s computer. Using this system, the head rest manufacturer was able to get highly accurate data through the fatigue testing cycle. Watch the testing video in action!

 

Engine DynamometerEngine Dynamometer

Internal combustion engines are by far the most common power source for land vehicles. From a 2-stroke motor in a lawn mower, to a V-8 stock car engine, horsepower and torque are the benchmarks of engine performance. Engine manufacturers and aftermarket suppliers use an engine dynamometer (dyno for short) to accurately measure an engine’s performance. An engine dyno isolates an engine’s power output to help quantify its overall performance, applying a load directly to the engine and utilizing a load cell to measure the torque absorbed by the loading mechanism. Horsepower is then calculated using the torque and RPM of the engine. To conduct this test, a precision S-Type Load Cell is attached to a torque arm which “feels” the torque from the engine loading system. The Interface Model SSMF is a great choice because it is fatigue-rated for a number of fully reversed cycles and is environmentally sealed to withstand harsh environments. Utilizing the Model CSC Signal Conditioner provides a clear signal to a data-acquisition system. Using this test solution, the load cell reacts precisely with the amount of torque being produced by the engine and provides accurate signals to the data-acquisition system. Engineers are then able to analyze the power transfer for the engine and optimize for performance. Read more about this solution here.

For additional automotive solutions and use cases, go here.

Driving Force in Automotive Applications

Among the most highly regulated industries in the world, automotive is up there with the likes of medical and defense. Every component and system needs to be thoroughly tested and deliberately analyzed to ensure that the final product is safe for the driver, other vehicles and pedestrians. Any mistakes or failures can cause catastrophic damage and put lives at risk.

There are hundreds of thousands of different tests that car parts and software go through before they are approved for the road. Among them is force measurement testing. Force and torque tests are integral to the structural and mechanical design and build of the car. Gathering data on the build quality and safety of materials and components found within cars, trucks and more is done through a wide variety of different force measurement testing.

Interface has been a partner to the automotive industry for more than 50 years, from the major OEMs to smaller parts manufacturers and test labs. We build force and torque sensors and acquisition devices designed to provide automotive engineers and manufacturers with high-quality data to monitor and confirm the design and in-action processes of a wide variety of vehicles.

Force testing applications for the automotive industry involve everything from structural, engine, brake, seat belt and suspension tests, all the way down to individual lug nut torque testing.

Recently, Interface has also been supplying solutions to those in the growing electrical vehicle (EV) market. EV cars and other motor vehicles present a wide variety of unique challenges for engine torque and battery technology testing.

As an example of some of the products we offer to the industry, we are highlighting Interface expertise in different automotive applications. This will include specific examples of work we’ve done for our customers recently or in the past.

BRAKE PEDAL TESTING

One of the largest areas of automotive test and measurement we are involved in is brake pedal testing. Our customers need to ensure that applying certain amounts of force to the brake will slow and stop the vehicle as intended.

In this application note, Interface supplied our customer with a BPL-300-C Brake Pedal Load Cell, which was installed on the brake pedal. As the user depressed the brake pedal, force data was transmitted by our BTS-AM-1 Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) Strain Bridge Transmitter Module to the BTS Toolkit Mobile App and displayed on a mobile device. This allowed our customer to view and graph the data in real-time.

Read the application note for Brake Pedal Testing here.

EV BATTERY TESTING

In the EV market, one of the most integral pieces of technology is the battery used to run every piece of hardware and software in the car. One of the critical tests that’s performed on EV batteries in compression testing. As an EV battery is charged and stores more electrons, it swells. If the packaging that houses the batteries is not intelligently designed to compensate for this swelling, you could have a major problem.

For this challenge, Interface can supply the popular WMC Miniature Load Cell. The load cell will measure compression force as a battery goes through charge cycles on a test stand to determine the force given off as the battery swells. This allows our customers to design the proper packaging for the batteries.

Read more about Interface’s role in the The Future of Automotive is Electric.

SUSPENSION TESTING

A personal favorite of the Interface team is a suspension test we performed on a race car. As you can imagine, race car components need to be finely tuned for optimal performance. The suspension is one of the most significant factors in the tuning process.

Using an Interface Model 1200 Standard Load Cell, we were able to measure simulated motions of a racetrack including bumps, banks and other track conditions. This allowed the customer to gather highly accurate (0.04%) measurements of loads applied to individual suspension points. This type of suspension testing technology can also be performed on a regular commercial automobile, but the race car example is much more fun!

View the race car suspension testing application here.

MOTOR TESTING

In this motor test stand application, it was used in the quality control lab of a major automotive manufacturing customer that needed to test, record and audit the torque produced by a new motor design under start load.

Interface supplied a Model AxialTQ Rotary Torque Transducer that connected between the motor and the differential, on the drive shaft, which could measure and record these torque values. Based on the data collected using the AxialTQ, AxialTQ Output Module, and customer laptop, the test engineer was able to make recommendations to optimize the amount of torque created by the new motor design.

You can read more about the AxialTQ in this post.  

The wide variety of applications for automotive force testing that Interface has been involved in is significant. We have many published application notes beyond those highlighted, including Seat Testing, Engine Head Bolt Tightening and one for an Engine Dynamometer (dyno for short) use case. The examples listed above just scratch the surface.

Interface is a preferred partner to the automotive industry.  To review some of the automotive application notes we have published, please check out our website at /solutions/automotive-vehicle/. You can also give us a call to learn more about the various solutions we offer for customers in the automotive industry at 480-948-5555.