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Force Measurement Solutions for Advanced Manufacturing Robotics

One of the most significant trends in advancing manufacturing is the use of robotics for smart factory automation. These types of machines are designed and coded to perform a variety of mundane and repetitive tasks on a manufacturing line or within an industrial facility. This allows humans to utilize their skills to work on more complex and productive tasks.

These activities are often characterized as picking, assembly, labeling, packaging, finishing work and inspection. Integrating robotics into manufacturing has many benefits including improved workplace safety, increasing productivity, and reducing material waste and costs. Interface uses robotics in our advanced manufacturing efforts in the assembly and building of world-class sensor technologies that are used around the world.

As with all points within a factory, there are many tasks that are very simple, while others can be very intricate requiring precision. As tasks become more difficult, the accuracy of the robot’s functionality is incredibly important. This is when sensors and precision measurement become instrumental to automation.

To ensure supreme accuracy, force measurement sensors are being used to improve processes as well as designed into robotic systems for monitoring performance data in real time. Force measurement sensors help manufacturers optimize the activities and tasks assigned to automated functions.

Popular types or robots used in advanced manufacturing environments using Interface load cells and our force measurement solutions include:

  1. Articulated – Often used in assembly, these robots have rotary joints to allow for a range of motion. Sensors such as mini or load button load cells are used in the testing and actual embedded in the joints to measure force and pressure.
  2. Gantry – These robots have three linear joints that move in different axes The X, Y, Z measurements are often tested with multi-axis load cells as this cartesian robot requires accuracy and precision.
  3. Cylindrical – This type of single robotic arm moves up and down, often stabilized by a cylindrical rod. They often are used in assemblies, welding, and handling of materials. These are tested with load cells for their ability to articulate the movement with exactness.

Interface products are playing a big role in manufacturing automation, especially in the design and development of robotics that use measurement in performance. They are used in all types of industries including automotive, medical, agriculture, and of course general manufacturing.

We supply a wide variety of sensors that measure force, torque, pressure, pulling force and more. We also are well-known worldwide for the accuracy and reliability of our products, making us the perfect fit for high-precision robotics applications.

Here are a few application examples where force measurement provides enormous value in testing and using robotics to advance manufacturing.

Industrial ArmIndustrial Robotic Arm in Production Line

Robotic arm solutions are becoming commonly used on production lines. When a manufacturer of a robot arm needed to measure force and torque when the arm picks up and places objects, Interface supplied a Model 6A40A 6-Axis Load Cell with Model BX8-HD44 Data Acquisition and Amplifier. The 6A40-6 Axis Load Cell was able to measure all forces and torques (Fx, Fʏ, Fz, Mx, Mʏ, Mz) and the BXB-HD44 Data Acquisition Amplifier was able to log, display, and graph these measurements while sending scaled analog output signals for these axes to the robot’s control system. This helped the customer optimize the multiple forces on the robot needed for moving objects on the production line. Read more about this solution here.

Robotic ArmRobotic Arm

This customer needed to lift and move delicate objects, like a glass bottle, in an automated environment with a robotic arm without causing damage to the objects that are being lifted and moved. Delicacy was the key here. Two ConvexBT Load Button Load Cells were used in the grips of the robotic arm to measure the amount of pressure being applied to the object it is lifting and moving. The DMA2 DIN Rail Mount Signal Conditioner converts the signal received from the 2 ConvexBT Load Button Load Cells from mV/V to volts to the PLC Controller which tells the robotic arm to stop clamping pressure when a specified amount of pressure is applied to the object. The two ConvexBT Load Button Load Cells accurately measured the amount of pressure applied to the object the robotic arm was lifting and moving without causing any harm or damage to the object. Watch Robotic Arm Application Note and read more here.

More robotic applications are being tested every day. Interface is proud to be able to supply the necessary technology to enhance production lines, improve shipping and logistics operations and speed up repetitive processes with robotics so workforces can thrive and develop skills that advance manufacturing overall.

Additional Resources

OEM Industrial Robotic Arm App Note

Automation and Robotics Demands Absolute Precision

Robotics in Play with New Animated Application Using ConvexBT

Interface Solutions for Robotics and Industrial Automation

Interface Supplies Agriculture Industry with Sensor Technologies

The global agribusiness industry is estimated to be $5 trillion and growing rapidly. The Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) notes that agriculture innovators and product development are contributions to quality of life, economic growth, employment, and environment in a big way. Interface is proud to be a supplier of sensor solutions, from load cells to instrumentation, to the agriculture industry.

Any time you are manufacturing tractors, self-propelled harvesting combines, robotics, silo structures, monitoring technologies and other equipment used for crop production and farm animal management, test and measurement has an important part. T&M is essential in validating performance, functionality, and safety. Interface load cells, torque transducers, multi-axis sensors, instrumentation and data acquisition systems are essential for these different kinds of agricultural applications. These products can be paired together to ensure efficiency, sustainability, and proper production planning. Interface sensors can also regulate through harsh weather conditions often experienced on a farm such has rain, humidity and unbearable temperatures, both low and high, while still maintaining a high testing and measurement performance.

In the case study Interface Solutions Used in Growing Agriculture Innovation, we outline how our sensors and data acquisition devices are designed to provide engineers with high-quality force and torque data to monitor and confirm the design and in-action processes of a wide variety of equipment. Interface products are ideal for manufacturers that develop agricultural machinery. Load cells and torque transducers, as well as DAQ and instrumentation solutions provide accurate force and torque data to monitor and confirm the design and in-action processes. This applies to a wide variety of agriculture equipment used to push, pull, lift, contain, and move things ranging from seed to cattle. To perfect these inventions and ensure safety, Interface sensors play a pivotal role.

If you would like to dig into a series of use cases that for the agriculture industry, we’ve included links below:

Force Sensors Advance Industrial Automation

Industrial automation heavily relies upon the use of sensor technologies to advance production and manufacturing. In the next phase of the industrial revolution, also referred to as Industry 4.0, gains in operational efficiencies are often rooted in innovative tools, robotics, and equipment renovations. These types of enhancements require use of interconnectivity, automation, machine learning, and real-time data. Interface is playing a significant role in enabling these advancements with smart force and torque measurement solutions.

Randy Franks at Sensor Tips poses the following question in a recent article: How can force sensing be integrated for Industry 4.0 upgrades?

“Upgrading facilities to industry 4.0 standards is one of the most significant trends in the manufacturing industry today. To do this, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are pushing hard to renovate their facilities with connected, automated devices and machines to create greater efficiency and cost savings. Smarter devices can ease the transition.”

He continues in his post to note, “For Industry 4.0, force measurement solutions providers are integrating actuators that move and control a mechanism or system with load cells to create fully automated force test systems.”

Illustrating how this work, Randy writes about manufacturers of mobile devices using force measurement testing automation to pressure test touch screens with the new Interface ConvexBT miniature-sized load button load cells

Click here to read the rest of the article.

Robotics in Play with New Animated Application Using ConvexBT

Numerous factors are driving the industry 4.0 revolution. From big data to IoT technology, industrial facilities and manufacturing plants are looking at new ways to automate their process and create a more efficient and cost-effective environment. One of the most important technology advancements in this mix is robotics.

Robotic equipment is a common industry 4.0 innovation used to create an autonomous or semi-autonomous machine capable of carrying out a variety of repetitive tasks that used to take up the time of skilled labor. Some of the tasks or processes that robotics enhance include stock management and logistics, manufacturing automation, janitorial duties and, there are even robotic applications called co-bots that assist human workers when ultra-high precision is needed.

To facilitate the demand for robotics, a variety of sensor and measurement components are necessary to ensure the highest quality and reliability of these application. Many tasks carried out by robotic applications are ultra-precise and require more accuracy than what a human hand or eye can handle.

Sensor technologies embedded in the actual robotics instrument must also be used to constantly calibrate or monitor the robotics. If robotics is used on an automated manufacturing line, any issues with the robotics can disrupt and compromise the entire process. Therefore, robotics manufacturers utilize Interface solutions when they need quality sensors that can monitor the precision of the robotics and ensure that their accuracy and reliability is maintained.

Interface develops high-quality test and measurement solutions designed for hardware testing of all kind. For robotics, our products are frequently used as a component within an OEM device. We understand the premium accuracy and reliability necessary to help develop robotics solutions and have provided both off-the-shelf and custom force measurement solutions designed to meet a variety of applications. We recently created an animated application note on an industrial automation robotic arm using our new light weight, light touch load button load cell, the ConvexBT.

The ConvexBT is designed for testing and also for full integration into the robotic element to measure the force pressure during use.  ConvexBT is available in multiple capacities, including our latest release of the 500lb and 1Klb models.

NEW! Interface Robotic Arm Application Note

A customer came to Interface with a robotic arm product that would be used to lift and move delicate objects, such as a glass bottle, in an automated environment. The goal in using Interface was to find a force measurement product that could ensure the robotic arm did not damage the products it was moving by applying too much force. The main component that Interface products would be applied to is the robotic arms’ clamp. The objective was monitoring the grabbing pressure of the clamp and ensure that the device would stop applying pressure when the necessary force was used to pick up the object without doing damage.

Using its new line of Load Button Load Cells, ConvexBT, and a DMA2 DIN Rail Mount Signal Conditioner, Interface provided a solution that would produce an electric signal on the clamping process that tells a controller to have the device stop applying pressure. Two ConvexBT products were connected underneath the rubber pads on both sides of the robotic arm clamping device. When the clamps made contact and applied pressure, the DMA2 Signal Conditioner converted the signal from the ConvexBT from MV/V to volts to a PLC controller. This signal tells the controller when to have the robotic arm stop applying clamping force.

Ultimately, the two ConvexBT Load Button Load Cells were able to accurately measure the amount of pressure applied to the object the robotic arm was lifting and moving without causing any harm or damage to the object.

This is just one of many examples of force measurement products being used in the robotics and automation industry. As the demand for robotics grows and a wider variety of applications are introduced, Interface will continue to engineer the best solutions to help customers reach the age of Industry 4.0.

To learn more about Interface solutions for the robotics and automation industry, please visit /solutions/. You can also check out our case study on the for industrial automation and robotics use here.

Looking Forward to the New Year

2020 has been a challenging year for most. Despite the disruption every person and industry has faced this past year, Interface continues to keep our eyes on the future. What can we do to meet our customer’s needs today and tomorrow?

One of the ways that Interface has accomplished this intense focal point is by setting our sights on the increasing number of requests for specific drawings and engineered to order force, torque, and specialized product lines. These requests provide us unique visibility in evolving product development concepts and the overall T&M landscape for the customers we serve.

Through Interface’s continued investments in R&D, analyzing the marketplace, and anticipating customer needs, we’ve identified key trends that we believe will have a significant positive impact in meeting our customer’s current requirements and preparing for future demands.

The first trend we see today is our customer’s increased focus on miniaturization. Innovation using sensor technologies continues to shrink in dimensions yet require the same or greater level of precision performance. We see this in all types of devices and hand-held technologies, industrial automation, robotics, as well as in automotive and consumer product inventions.

The trend towards miniaturization in the medical device industry has been happening for quite some time; however, the capabilities and precision requirements continue to become more stringent and demanding of higher levels of performance. For example, with trends in at-home care remote monitoring has caused medical device manufacturers to develop mobility for devices. They’re also taking diagnostic machines and turning them into a handheld version so doctors can administer medical tests quickly and efficiently at the point of care, rather than sending patients out of home for administering or tracking.

To address product development challenges related to devices that becoming more compact, Interface is engineering and manufacturing precision components that excel in confined space. We’ve already begun to address this in 2020 with the release of our ultra-precision ConvexBT™ Load Button Load Cells.

ConvexBT is a first of its kind load button load cell, providing better temperature resistance and more enhanced eccentric load rejection than other competitive products. For many years, miniature load cells categorized as load buttons have been sensitive to off-axis, eccentric or misaligned loads. This means if the load is not exactly perpendicular to the surface it is resting on, the data could become skewed or inaccurate. Interface designed the ConvexBT load button load cell to confine misaligned loads to the primary axis of the cell providing superior performance in comparison to similar products on the market. Read more about the product release here.

The next key trend we are prepared to address in 2021 and beyond is test and measurement systems that address complex and multi-dimensional testing requirements. Historically, load cells and torque transducers have addressed force, torque, and weight in a variety of single product groups. And these devices would be added to a test series with a host of other sensors or get multiple outputs through a variety of tests. More and more customers want measurement devices that include additional outputs from the sensors to account for things like acceleration, temperature, humidity, and more.

We see this in growing requests for adding accelerometers in our load cells and torque transducers. In industries like automotive, we often use a torque transducer to measure rotation with components like car engines and tires. By adding an accelerometer, the device can be used to measure both torque and acceleration. This addresses our customer’s desire to simplify their test process and it provides more data in a single test to expand use cases and applications.  As this desire for more data and fewer testing devices grows, Interface is continuing the expansion of engineered to order and customized load cells to allow for dual measurements in a single component.

This trend is closely related to the need for a complete system. Systems are often completely customized to a single project or program that provides the measurement device, instrumentation, cabling, and housing. These systems can also be mobilized with wireless components for field applications.  The group of custom solutions engineers have created multiple versions of these systems used in energy, aerospace, and T&M labs.

Despite the challenges of the last year, Interface is hyper-focused on innovation and the ability to address the evolving needs of our customers. If you want to measure it, then Interface is here to help you create the right solution to get exactly what is required for your invention, product improvement or test. How can we help you win in 2021?

Interface is a Critical Solutions Provider for OEMs

The hardware industry is rapidly making its way into taking advantage of the Industry 4.0 and Big Data eras. The idea that data insight can cut costs, increase efficiency and reduce downtime is spreading like wildfire throughout major OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) across the world. These organizations are adding more and more sensors and other data collection devices to their products to receive deeper analytics on the health and efficiency of various in-action processes.

One of the most important tools in this mix of data tracking and collecting devices are force measurement sensors. Load cells and torque transducers are being added to products across industries to not only optimize individual product processes, but also to ensure that the product remains in proper working conditions.

As an example, the www.interfaceforce.com/solutions/aerospace is putting force sensors all over airplane components. Everything from landing gear to the wings may include a sensor. These force sensors can then be used to constantly collect data on the well-being of these components. If landing gear needs to be fixed or adjusted, you don’t want to find that out while your 30,000 feet in the year. You want data that helps you track performance and potential degradation over time so you can solve problems before it puts lives at risk.

To serve OEMs in automotive, aerospace, robotics, medical and consumer product industries, force measurement companies like Interface must be able to manufacture sensors in high volumes and at affordable price points. Load cells and torque transducers used in test and measurement can be reused over and over, so the demand for higher volumes is lower. However, when the sensor is integrated into the final product, force measurements manufacturers need to be able to deliver a high enough volume to meet the OEM’s demand for production of the specific product the sensor will be integrated into for continuous use.

Interface holds a unique position in the OEM marketplace for custom sensor technologies. Our decades of success has allowed us to make critical investments towards streamlining our own production and manufacturing of industry-leading components to serve OEM customers. Over the last few years, we’ve implemented better, more efficient processes and have added automation to improve consistency, repeatability and time to market. This also benefits our customers by lowering costs for large scale, continuous production to meet the growing demands and use cases in the OEM market.

A huge benefit is that Interface controls the design and development of our load cells and torque transducers. We build everything from the strain gauges to the product packaging. This allows us to rapidly iterate and customize our designs to meet the needs of a wide range of OEM customers. Our engineers work hand-in-hand with our OEM partners to design the exact requirements into our sensor technology.

This is critical to being a top solutions provider serving OEMs because force measurement products must fit the design and specifications of the OEM application, as well as potentially removing unnecessary features to fit a certain price point for volume production. OEM applications can also be exposed to more extreme conditions in industries like aerospace, automotive or medical, so the sensor might need a specific material or treatment to withstand certain environments.

One of the essential benefits we provide our customers in the U.S. is the fact that our products are manufactured in country, and our engineering, sales and support staff is also local. This enables easier communication with our customers, as well as faster shipping times. When a customer needs to adjust the specifications on a device or troubleshoot a challenge, they know that they’ll get the support they need during their own working hours.  We are extending this value globally as we continue to create solutions that meet our demands worldwide.

The demand for big data and automation is growing rapidly among OEMs. It is also one of the most competitive markets in the world. To serve our customers with unique engineered to order designs and solutions, we work every day to stay on top of manufacturing trends and find new ways to optimize production to meet their cost and volume needs.

To learn more about Interface and our custom solution capabilities for the OEM market, please visit us at www.interfaceforce.com.

Contributor:  Brian Peters, Interface Regional Sales Director for the US

Interface Solutions for Industrial Markets

The industrial market is vast. The industry classification covers everything from manufacturing and assembly to mining and agriculture. The highly regulated environments involved in industrial applications often require advanced equipment and technologies for product design and development, as well as after market performance management. Force and torque products are critical sensor components used in industrial applications.

Interface has been a partner to industrial customers for more than 50 years. We engineer, build, and supply force and torque sensors and acquisition devices designed to provide industrial engineers and manufacturers with high quality data that monitors and confirms the design and in-action processes of their equipment. Applications for industrial markets involve everything from heavy machinery to weighing solutions. The accuracy of these devices is critical to high-quality outcomes, low-costs and most importantly, worker safety.

INDUSTRIAL APPLICATIONS 

An example of an industrial process that requires an accurate force sensor is a crane application used in lifting heaving objects. Interface engaged with a customer who needed to measure the lifting capabilities of a crane using an Interface load shackle. The purpose of the shackle was to ensure the crane wasn’t lifting more than it could handle, putting worker safety at risk and potentially damaging the machine.

Interface model WTSSHK-B Wireless Load Shackle was connected to a crane load string to measure forces. A model WTS-BS-1-HA Battery Powered Handheld Display was used to wirelessly receive load information and display results. Using this solution, the customer was able to successfully measure lifting and reading weight wirelessly on a handheld display while the crane was in action.

Another great example of the industrial industry’s use of force applications can be seen in manufacturing automation. One of the growing trends in marketing automation is the use of robotics to replace repetitive human tasks. Robotic arms are often found on assembly lines and they carry out a single task over and over. If the robotic arm isn’t properly calibrated, it can ruin an entire production line and lead to significant losses. To qualify the accuracy, many OEM’s use load cells and torque transducers to continuously measure the intricate movements of a robotic arm.

One Interface customer used a robotic arm to close packaging on a production line. If the arm wasn’t accurate, it could apply to much force and crush the packaging or not close the packaging as intended, leading to losses in shipping.

Interface supplied a 6-Axis Load Cell with a model BX8 Data Acquisition and Amplifier System. The Interface Multi-Axis 6-Axis Load Cell was able to measure all forces and torques on every axis and the BX8 8-Channel Data Acquisition System was able to log, display, and graph these measurements while sending scaled analog output signals for these axes to the robot’s control system.

READ MORE HERE: FORCE MEASUREMENT IS REDUCING WASTE AND AUTOMATING THE CONSUMER PACKAGING INDUSTRY

Another consideration for specialized industrial applications is in harsh environments. There are hundreds of thousands of engineers and manufacturers that spend their days working in these environments. Whether its operating inside of facilities with large machines and intricate moving parts, working hundreds of feet in the air repairing a bridge, or deep within a mine shaft, these professionals put themselves in danger every day by the nature of their work. As engineers and manufacturers, many of us are also tasked to solve for safety challenges and keep these professionals protected in any environment.

One of the ways we contribute to industrial safety is with the development of our Interface Ex Rated Load Cells, also known as Interface Intrinsically Safe Products. These specialized load cells and force measurement solutions are designed and manufactured so that the materials and electronic components are safe for use in hazardous gas and dust environments when installed per applicable installation instructions. These components are designed for those applications found in dangerous environments in particular industries like oil and gas, mining, aerospace, automotive and more.

The applications for industrial vary widely because the industry is diverse. Interfaces designs and manufacturers force and torque products for hundreds of different industrial use cases and applications every year. Our team of engineers can even create custom solutions for new and innovative industrial requirements. Included below are examples of some of the products typically used by our industrial customers.

  • 2400 Load Cell Series – The 2400 is a stainless-steel load cell designed for applications requiring a hermetic seal for use in general industrial applications.
  • 3200 Load Cell Series – The 3200 precision stainless steel load cell series has all the features of the Interface Model 1200 LowProfile® (one of Interface’s most popular products) and in addition it is stainless steel and hermetically sealed for harsh applications.
  • SSMH Load Cell Series – Model SSMH S-type load cell provides a suitable force measurement sensor for applications in coal mining and transfer and other heavy industries where explosive dusts and environment conditions are potentially explosion-hazard rated. SSMH capacities available that provide intrinsically safe certification.
  • Stainless Steel Load Buttons – Interface’s load button load cells are designed for customers who require the measurement of forces in a very confined space. They are designed to provide the most accuracy in as little space as possible.
  • 5400 Series Reaction Torque Transducer Series – Model 5400 series features a rugged flange-style designed with thru-holes, low deflection, high torsional stiffness and the ability to withstand large overhung moments.
  • Wireless Telemetry System (WTS) – High accuracy, high quality measurement is interfaced with simple yet powerful configuration and monitoring software. The WTS gives sensor manufacturers and integrators the complete flexibility to build their own sensor modules around it. The system easily replaces wired systems, reducing installation and maintenance costs.

These are just a few examples of Interface applications notes and products designed for industrial applications. For more information on Interface solutions design for the Industrial industry, contact our experienced application engineers.

 

Interface Solutions for Robotics and Industrial Automation

As the manufacturing world continues to push towards the 4.0 Industrial Revolution, critical technology is necessary to ensure facilities are running as efficiently as possible. With advancements toward fully or semi-autonomous factories and robotics, manufacturers need to have total trust in their hardware and software to perform with precision in the assigned tasks. This requires collecting accurate and real-time data to constantly monitor every aspect of the facility’s technology and production.

In the development of robotics used in industrial automation, our Interface Multi-Axis Sensors are often used to test the multi-directional movement and force of robotics arms. Whether it’s a fully automated or semi-automated robotic system, manufacturers need to be able to ensure the complex movements and actions of the robotics arm are optimized to take on very precise jobs. These types of robotics are often used for projects that are too precise for the human hand.

Industrial automation and robotics are creating a more efficient manufacturing process, which will help to churn products out more quickly and lower costs. However, to optimize these processes, it’s critical that we trust the hardware to operate autonomously and that we have systems in-place to identify malfunctions quickly.

Interface plays a critical role in robotics and industrial automation by providing our customers with highly accurate load cells and torque transducers to measure and collect data on the force and torque that these machines are exerting. Interface force measurement solutions and products are involved in the testing of the machines before they hit the production line, and in some cases, our products are also installed directly on the machine to allow users to monitor the force in real-time.

One industry that has a high demand for our products is the consumer packaging industry. Many of the processes involved in the production line of a consumer packaging plant have utilized automation for a long time.

For instance, beverage companies that sell bottles of water or soda utilize machines that cap the product all day long. Hundreds of thousands of bottles go through the capping process on the production line daily. If there are any issues with the torque applied in the capping process, the beverage company could see heavy losses because the bottle could be damaged from over torquing the cap, or the beverage could leak during the shipping process if the caps are under torqued. To avoid these loses, the machines are optimized using a torque transducer.

Torque transducers provide data during the testing process to help the machine manufacturer get the force exactly right for the capping process. The torque transducer can also stay installed on the machine so that the beverage company can continuously monitor the torque of the machine and stop production before damages occur if there is an issue.

Interface offers nearly 50 types of reaction (static) torque transducers and rotary (dynamic) torque transducers. All of our torque transducers are precision-machined and use our proprietary torque sensors for the most accurate data possible.

Another common automation use for force and torque measurement products is in the automotive industry. Automation in this industry has been used for some time increase production of cars.

Two examples of how Interface load cells and torque transducers play a role in the automobile production line is with seat durability testing and bolt fastening.

For seat testing, we had a customer use an Interface Multi-Axis Model 6A68C 6-Axis Load Cell to identify previously unknown bending forcing that could negatively influence their testing process. This allowed the customer to redesign their testing fixture to eliminate the bending moment and more accurately perform the durability testing.

For bolt fastening, we installed an Interface Model LWCF Clamping Force Load Washers along with Interface Instrumentation to monitor the force being applied during bolt tightening. This helped the customer avoid over tightening bolts, which could damage the product in the process.

For a more in-depth overview of both applications, please check out our application notes:

Force measurement products are a critical technology in the testing and monitoring of automation equipment. To learn more about the various products and instrumentation Interface supplies to facilitate industrial automation and support advancements in robotics, contact our applications experts here.  We also have a number of application notes focused on industrial automation here.

Contributor: Ken Bishop, Sr Sales Director, Custom Solutions and Services

 

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.