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Enhancing Structural Testing with Multi-Axis Load Cells

Multiple industries use structural tests for quality control, regulatory requirements, failure analysis, predictive maintenance, design and performance verification, and safety assurance.

Structural tests measure the tension, design proofing, and lifecycle fatigue validation. Load cells provide valuable measurement data in structural testing. These tests apply to assessing the structural components for rockets, aircraft, automobiles, EV batteries, heavy equipment, and infrastructure projects.

There are times when more data is valuable beyond a standard load cell. Multi-axis sensors are essential tools for structural testing, providing valuable insights into the behavior of structures under various loading conditions. These sensors measure forces in multiple directions, enabling engineers to identify potential weaknesses, assess structural integrity, and optimize designs.

Multi-axis sensors offer several technical advantages for structural testing compared to traditional single-axis load cells. Interface’s 2-axis, 3-axis, and 6-axis load cells are all excellent options for structural testing.

TIP:  Use the new Interface Multi-Axis Selection Guide to evaluate the different designs, capacities, and capabilities quickly.

Primary Benefits of Using Multi-Axis Load Cells for Structural Testing

  • Extensive data acquisition: The primary advantage of multi-axis sensors is they can simultaneously measure forces in multiple directions, thoroughly analyzing the force distribution on a structure.
  • Improvements to structural design: The data obtained from multi-axis sensors can be used to refine structural design models, leading to more robust, efficient, and safe structures.
  • Reduction in complexity: Multi-axis load cells can replace multiple single-axis load cells, simplifying test setups and reducing the required data channels. The benefits are saving time during test setup and data analysis.
  • High accuracy: Multi-axis load cells are designed to minimize crosstalk between axes, ensuring accurate measurements even when forces are applied in multiple directions, which is critical in structural test data.
  • Early detection of structural issues: Using multi-axis sensors can help to identify subtle changes in structural behavior that may indicate early signs of damage or deterioration, allowing for timely intervention.
  • Versatile measurement device: Multi-axis load cells are used in various structural testing applications, including complex force distributions and dynamic loading conditions, making them versatile tools for structural and civil engineers.
  • Compact form factor: Interface multi-axis load cells are dimensionally suited for testing structures with limited space constraints.

During the Inventive Multi-Axis and Instrumentation Webinar, our application engineers shared significant technical benefits of multi-axis sensors. Watch the full recorded technical seminar here.

  • Improved understanding of reaction loads at boundary conditions
  • Transmissive loads through DUT
  • Bending and side loads
  • Force vector and center of force
  • Boundary load condition verification
  • Expansion of existing test methods

Applications of Multi-Axis Sensors in Structural Testing

Structural health monitoring: These sensors are used to continuously monitor the condition of structures, identifying early signs of damage or deterioration.

Bridge testing: Multi-axis sensors measure bridges’ load distribution and stress levels during various loading scenarios, ensuring their structural integrity.

Aircraft testing: These sensors measure aircraft structures’ aerodynamic forces and vibration response, ensuring their safety and performance.

Civil engineering testing: Multi-axis sensors are employed in testing a wide range of civil engineering structures, including buildings, dams, and offshore platforms. Visit: Infrastructure Solutions

Multi-axis load cells are an ideal technical solution for structural testing because they can simultaneously measure forces in multiple directions, reduce complexity, and improve accuracy. These versatile sensors can be used in structural testing and ongoing structural monitoring.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Multi-Axis Sensor Application Notes

Interface Solutions for Structural Testing

Structural Testing Overview

Modernizing Infrastructure with Interface Sensor Technologies

Interface and Infrastructure Markets Form a Perfect Partnership

Electric Vehicle Structural Battery Testing

Outlining Force Solutions for Structural Outrigging

Performance Structural Loading

Rocket Structure Testing

 

Interface Space Economy Solutions

The space economy is rapidly emerging as a leading platform for cutting-edge research, technology, and global economics. With a focus on endeavors such as lunar mining and deep space exploration, Interface is at the forefront of sensor technology, which is driving growth in this dynamic sector, as noted in our new Space Economy Solutions Overview.

The space economy encompasses various sectors, including satellite communication, Earth observation, space tourism, launch services, space manufacturing, and space mining, among others. It involves both public and private entities, including government space agencies, commercial space companies, and research institutions. As sustainability and digital technologies continue to reshape the global economy, Interface precision force measurement solutions are used in scientific research and development (R&D) and deep space discoveries, as noted in Enabling A Look Way Beyond Yonder. As a result, we are poised to play an increasingly critical role in testing the boundaries and opportunities in the space economy.

Leaders in the space sector are using force measurement products in their to design, build, test, secure and launch rockets into outer space. Interface has been involved in many of these projects with some of the space largest organizations in the world,as noted in our NASA case study.  Interface sensor technologies are also used by innovators and education institutions around the world, like the Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab, that are exploring possibilities and testing inventions for our continued exploration and future inhabitation of other planets and galaxies.

Force Measurement Use Cases for Space Launches

There are numerous areas in which force measurement sensors are utilized on a space project. Everything from the motorized equipment at the launch site, to the rocket itself, can be tested using load cells, load pins, and more. Some of the areas in which Interface has been involved in providing solutions for includes structural testing on rockets, launch platforms and landing, commercial launch vehicles, space exploration equipment testing, and even in testing certain equipment used for space travel and food production.

  • Structural Testing: Structural tests are critical to the launch process because the craft’s core components, such as the liquid hydrogen and oxygen tanks, wings, and fuselage, must withstand launch loads of up to nine million pounds of force (lbf). A few years ago, NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) used Interface load cells to measure the core stage of the rocket. This particular core stage is one of the largest ever built at 27 feet in diameter and more than 200 feet tall.
  • Thrust Testing: A rocket that is fully fueled and ready for launch can weigh up to five million pounds. Therefore, the force necessary to lift the rocket out of the earth’s atmosphere is immense. There are several other factors working against the rocket which need to be compensated for when adjusting thrust force such as drag. Interface has supplied load cells to many aerospace customers to test force and other contributing factors for lifting a rocket into space. These load cells work by being installed underneath a test plate which the rocket engine will sit on. As the engine thrusts, the load cells will calculate the force output of the engine in real-time. This data is used to optimize the engine to determine how much thrust force is needed based on the spacecraft’s total weight and the calculated drag at liftoff.
  • Force Gravity Testing: Force measurement tools also serve many purposes outside of spacecraft testing in the aerospace industry. Interface was involved in a unique application of force measurement with a customer that wanted to develop a system to provide a full range of natural motion for a realistic simulation of reduced gravity environments. The system would be used to simulate weightlessness so astronauts’ crews could learn how to handle microgravity activities, including walking, running, and jumping. The system could also be used for surface operation studies, suit and vehicle development, robotic development, and mass handling studies.

EVENT ALERT! Interface will be showcasing how our load cells, load pins, load shackles, calibration equipement, and instrumentation are used by space technology companies around the world at Space Tech Expo, May 2-4 in Laguna Beach, California.  You’ll find us in Booth 6057 where we we will be highlighting solutions, as captured here:

Space Economy Applications

Space Dock Capture Ring Force Testing Solution

A space company wanted to test their spacecraft docking simulator. They wisedh to test the forces of the actuators used during the “lunge”, when the soft capture ring is lunged forward to latch onto a space vehicle that has been mounted. They also wanted to ensure they are working properly when engaged, and that it does not go past its overload force limit. Interface suggested using multiple WTS 1200 Standard Precision LowProfile™ Wireless Load Cells to be installed to the actuators of the capture ring. Both as wireless solutions, measurements could be recordeded through the WTS-AM-1E Wireless Strain Bridge Transmitter Module, which then can transmit to the WTS-BS-1 Handheld Display or the WTS-BS-6 Wireless Telemetry Dongle Base Station for the customer to record, log, and graph on their computer. Interface’s Wireless Telemetry System successfully measured the forces of the soft capture ring of the space docking port with overload protection.

Rover Landing Gear Solution

A space company wanted to measure the cushioning effect of their rover’s landing legs through a drop test. They want to test how much force the landing gear can absorb until issues are caused in the legs. Interface suggested using the INFRD Platform Scale, which has four shear beam load cells installed at the corners of the scale. A drop test was conducted at different heights, and the results were summed using a JB104SS Junction Box built in the scale. The results are measured and logged on the provided SD card. Results can be also be viewed and logged when the 9330 connects to a PC. The INFRD Platform Scale was able to capture the forces that was implemented onto the rover’s landing gear through these drop tests.

Like many space technology companies, a very well known space exploration leader is utilizing force measurement to stabilize their rocket prior to launch. A YouTube channel named CSI Starbase, examined a few images from a recent launch construction project and pointed out the presence of Interface stainless steel load pins on the site. In the video, CSI Starbase concluded that the load pins pictured must be used for the hold down arms used on the booster of the rocket. This is one of many Innovative Interface Load Pin Applications.

Interface understands the advancements we are making in the space economy require high accuracy force measurement solutions.  Interface offers a wide variety of solutions, both custom and off-the-shelf, for the ever expanding space economy, including sensors used for:

  • Structural Testing
  • Space and Flight Simulations
  • Launch Vehicles and Spacecraft Tests
  • Engine and Thrust Tests
  • Spacewalks
  • Robotics and Manipulators
  • Space Habitats and Agriculture
  • Planetary Exploration Vehicles
  • Space Mining
  • Space Vehicle Component Manufacturing
  • Deep Space Exploration
  • Space R&D
  • Spacecraft Landing Gear Tests
  • Rovers Vehicle Design and Testing
  • Microgravity Tests

To highlight more of our solutions and provide background on the various ways we serve space customers, check out our new space economy overview.

Space Economy Brochure

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Aerospace Brochure

Vertical Farming on Earth and in Space

Examining Interface Aerospace Industry Solutions

Interface and The Race to Space

Force Measurement for Space Travel

Launching into Orbit with Interface

Examining Interface Aerospace Industry Solutions

Among the many industries Interface serves, the aerospace industry is one of the fastest growing users of our precision force measurement solutions. This is because ultra-accurate force, weight and torque measurements and data are critical to testing, performance and safety for airplanes, helicopters, and rockets.

Aerospace engineers and manufacturers of commercial, industrial, and military aerospace vehicles and associated components must measure multitudes of factors such as fatigue, structure durability, materials, weight distribution, drag, effects of inclement weather, velocity changes, thrust, and center of gravity to name a few.

Interface is synonymous with high performance sensors used for all types of test and measurement applications. For more than five decades, aerospace innovators and industrial giants have relied upon Interface to provide precision products and services they can trust.  Our test and measurement solutions are designed for use in the aerospace industry to withstand extreme conditions, whether they are for testing wings on commercial airplanes or used to measure the force of an intergalactic vessel launch.

Interface showcases products and use cases in our new aerospace solutions brochure detailing many the products and custom solutions we provide to the industry. We provide an overview of our accurate and reliable lineup of force measurement products, as well as highlighting various application examples to outline different ways we have long served the makers, builders, testers and engineers across the diverse aerospace industry.

To work in the aerospace industry, you have to meet the highest quality industry requirements in manufacturing and calibration. We take our commitment towards quality assurance very seriously and guarantee our products meet or exceed the quality clauses outlined by the International Organization of Standardization (ISO). We test and calibrate all products we build in a certificated lab based in Arizona that holds A2LA, International Standard ISO/IEC 17025:2017 and ANSI/NCSL Z540-1- 1994 accreditations. The strict adherence to these standards demonstrates our technical competence for a defined scope and the operation of a laboratory quality management system. Every Interface manufactured sensor goes through rigorous testing and calibration before it’s released to our customers.

The sensors, instrumentation, and accessories we supply to aerospace equipment manufacturers and testing labs range from mini to jumbo load cells, torque transducers, multi-axis sensors, and various wireless, digital and analog instrumentation devices. Interface sensors have been used regularly in the engineering and testing of military aircraft, missiles, space, commercial airliners, and for general aviation components as demonstrated in this aerospace and defense industry case study.

One aerospace use case of our force sensors is for structural testing. Interface LowProfile™ Load Cells are utilized for structural static and fatigue testing. Our moment and temperature compensated load cells use proprietary alloy strain gages for extreme accuracy and reliability. Using eight proprietary strain gages per sensor, our 4mV/V output well exceeds the performance. These load cells are offered in single, dual, and triple bridge configurations for different data acquisition and control requirements in aerospace vehicle production.

The range of aircraft and space vehicles that use Interface solutions include all types from unpowered gliders to commercial and military aircraft, as well as rockets, missiles, drones, launch vehicles, and spacecraft. These vehicles go through extensive and rigorous test and measurement programs and processes requiring the reliability and accuracy of Interface made products. Here are a few types of aerospace applications using Interface measurement solution:

Aircraft Wing Fatigue

Before any of the U.S. Navy’s F/A-18 twin-engine supersonic fighter jets can be put into operation, the wings of the aircraft must undergo fatigue testing in a controlled environment to ensure that they are capable of withstanding the forces that will be encountered during real-world flight throughout the lifetime of the aircraft. Highly accurate measurements must be recorded in order to make sure that a near-exact replication of in-flight conditions are being achieved. During fatigue tests, Interface’s 1248 Standard Precision Flange LowProfile Load Cells are installed in line with the hydraulic cylinders, which apply back-and-forth loading forces to the aircraft. This is carried out over the course of 18 months to simulate in-flight stresses and strains on the wings. Load cells are connected to indicators, which record output. Capable of withstanding more than 100 million (1×108) fully reversible load cycles, Interface’s LowProfile Fatigue-Rated Load Cells have performed flawlessly in F/A-18 wing testing with zero recorded failures in the many years that testing facilities around the world have been using them.

Rescue Helicopter Hoist Test

When a customer wanted to test the strength of the cable line used in the hoist of their helicopter during rescue missions and situations, see if both the cable and the hoist can withstand a heavy load safely, and for long periods of time while the helicopter is in flight, they turned to Interface. We supplied a WTSSHK-D Wireless Crosby™ Load Shackle, which is attached to each mooring cable in use. Results are sent to the customers through the WTS-BS-4 USB Industrial Base Station when connected to the customer’s supplied computer. Data can also be transmitted to the WTS-BS-1-HS Handheld Display for Single Transmitters, giving the customer the option to view mooring cable line tension. Using this solution, the customer was able to add a heavy load to the end of the helicopter hoist, to ensure it is strong and safe enough to carry both rescue personnel and objects while being in midair.

The aerospace industry is responsible for some of the greatest inventions and innovation in our global history. The engineering and manufacturing of a single rocket engine design, using handwritten calculations and with less computing power than a modern smartphone, took us to the moon. The aerospace industry is an assembly of researchers, design houses, test labs and manufacturing companies that engineer and build vehicles to travel within and beyond Earth’s atmosphere using Interface products. Whether you need a million-pound jumbo load cell, custom load pin, or wireless instrumentation, we understand aerospace requirements and our engineers are on stand-by to assist. Get your copy of our new Aerospace Solutions Brochure here.

Additional Resources

Solutions Provider for Aerospace & Defense

Exploring Aerospace Force Measurement Solutions

Interface Displays Force Measurement Aerospace Applications at Space Tech Expo

Aerospace and Defense Industry Solutions

Interface Recognized as Contributor to Human Flight Success

Interface and The Race to Space

Like many, we are celebrating some incredible milestones in the space industry this year. With every milestone, there is a long path of discovery, invention, and experience that creates these extraordinary moments.

The 53-year history of Interface is rich in experiences supplying force and torque measurement solutions to the engineers and innovators of space vehicles and the structures that support them. For decades Interface has supplied load cells, torque transducers, and multi-axis sensors of all sizes and capacities to the organizations that put the first man on the moon and to those that are pursuing the commercialization of space travel and colonization of other planets.

Our legacy as a reputable provider of sensor technologies has created a reliance on Interface products and expert calibration services. Our products have been and are used today in the development and flight qualification for the ascent and now descent of spacecraft, with rapid expansion and frequency. As we enter a new era of recoverable spacecraft, we are seeing more dependence on Interface as the supplier of the measurement devices used by these remarkable innovators, builders, and test engineers.

Why Interface? It comes down to reliability and accuracy, two extremely important measures of success in the launch and recovery of spacecraft.  These measures are also critical factors given the acceleration in space travel for both valuable cargo and with greater occurrences, humans.

Beyond the performance factors of precision force and torque measurement solutions that Interface engineers and manufactures, we are chosen by the steadfast leaders and new entrepreneurs in the space industries because of quality and our ability to customize our products to exact specifications.

You will find Interface products used in thrust testing, structural testing and even force gravity testing.  Every new test and launch inspire the Interface team to keep doing what we do. In fact, you can find our high-capacity and miniature load cells in use with future engineers and astronauts at universities around the world that are inventing new planetary exploration vehicles and rockets.  Learn more here.

Interface provides products that accurately measure thrust, which is critical in cargo lifting. Every test must be verifiably accurate due to the trustworthiness and safety requirements of moving the ever-increasing valuable payloads, which is beyond stellar communication technologies. It’s now about launching and returning humans, with frequency, in the new era of space travel.

Interface load cells are also commonly used in the production and development of launch structures.  These structures must withstand incredible forces during liftoff and return.

You can also find the Interface blue and stainless-steel load cells in the designs and for testing structures and aerodynamics for payloads of all types.

NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) core stage is 27 feet in diameter and 200+ feet tall. Core components including liquid hydrogen and oxygen tanks must withstand launch loads up to 9 million pounds-force (lbf). Interface 1200 High-Capacity Standard Precision Low-Profile™ Load Cell Model 1260 for 600,000 lbf capacity, Model 1280 for 1,000,000 lbf capacity and Model 1290 for 2,000,000 lbf capacity were used in the design and testing of the structure.

Load cells were attached to hydraulic cylinders at various locations along test stands to provide precise test forces. Strain gages bonded to rocket structure surface and connected to data acquisition system for stress analysis. Read more here: /solutions/aerospace-industry/rocket-structural-testing/.

Exploring the possibilities of what you can measure?  Interface is here to support your vision and mission. Contact our experts to help you get exactly what you need to accurately measure your designs.

 

 

Evolving Urban Mobility Sector for Test and Measurement

Every day it seems we are inching closer to the Jetson’s utopia of flying cars, floating cities and robot butlers. Technology is evolving to the point where robotics and computers control most aspects of travel and mobility. That requires a lot of testing and dependency on accurate measurements for what is on the road and what is flying up above.

Interface has been long been working with leading manufacturers and suppliers of all types of vehicles traveling on the ground, across the skies, and into aerospace. As innovations are removing old boundaries, one thing that remains constant is the need for test and measurement programs.

In the urban mobility sector, we are seeing growth related to rigorous T&M projects for everything from autonomous vehicles to manned rockets, as well as unmanned aircrafts and drones. Interface is proud to be a solutions provider to the engineers and innovators of these growing applications and sectors.

Arizona, the home to Interface’s headquarters, is considered a hub for new technologies and inventions in urban mobility, including autonomous automobiles, alternative-fueled vehicles, rockets and unmanned vehicles. There are dozens of companies with testing and research facilities located throughout Arizona, with countless self-driving vehicles testing and mapping streets throughout the state. In fact, the Institute for Automated Mobility (IAM) in partnership with Intel, Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University, University of Arizona, and other public and private organizations, is collaborating on state-of-the-art research in Arizona. The goal of IAM is to advance all aspects of autonomous vehicles from science to safety to policy.

Nearly every company currently testing and innovating autonomous vehicle technology in Arizona is a customer of Interface. We are providing everything from instrumentation to torque transducers, along with a large range of our standard precision load cells for all types of testing projects. Our custom solutions team also has been working with leaders in these markets.

Being on the forefront as a solutions provider for this sector gives us visibility into many of the applications. What we have learned is demand is related to advancing urban mobility to solve for increasing congestion and diminishing inner-city air quality. The 2019 Urban Mobility Report published by The Texas A&M Transportation Institute with cooperation from INRIX notes:

“Connected vehicles “talking” to each other, such as traffic signals and other systems, and providing this information to decision‐makers will provide unprecedented data and insights to identify and fix mobility problems. Newer model vehicles sense and adjust to their surroundings, increasing the safety and efficient movement of goods and people. Other technologies, such as The Internet of Things (IoT), 3D printers, Blockchain, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) will impact transportation systems of the future.”

As technology leads the way in urban mobility, the safety and performance of the vehicle are of utmost importance. There is no room for failure. The point is, the advancement of robotics, sensor technology, and computing power are becoming a driving factor behind a fully autonomous world in terms of how people and products move about the world.

Another area of increased T&M product demand at Interface is coming from the application of our force measurement products for moving objects in unmanned vehicles above ground. The advancement of drone technology for commercial purposes is seen through the adoption across diverse applications such as mapping, logistics, and surveillance. Interface load cell technologies have been used for flight and wing testing, load testing and a variety of force measurement projects. The drone market, for commercial applications,  is expected to grow to more than $7B through 2022.

Interface is well known throughout key global industries as the premier manufacturer of the most accurate and reliable force measurement products on the market. For urban mobility, accuracy is critical to maintaining safe, pilot and driverless, vehicles and with the advancement of high-quality robotics.

Our load cells and torque transducers are used to test and measure key data points such as balance and weight distribution, thrust and lift, and to optimize movement on robotic arms and legs.

Here are a couple of application examples where Interface is providing critical components to advance innovation in urban mobility

Aerospace and Defense

The aerospace and defense industries are among the earliest adopters of urban mobility technology. The defense sector has utilized drones for surveillance, tactical advantage and battle since the advent of the technology. Aerospace manufacturers have also implemented autonomy into many of their commercial and defense planes. Interface has been a longtime partner of the aerospace and defense sector, working with some of the largest OEM’s across the U.S., as well as internationally. Some of the capabilities of our products in the aerospace and defense industry include thrust tests, wing and fuselage balance, weight distribution and fatigue testing, landing gear tests and parcel delivery weight testing for drones.

Automotive

In the automotive industry, autonomous vehicles have been a critical focus for the past 10 years. The technology really exploded onto the scene over the past five years with key players like Google, Tesla, GM, and others making significant investments in the development and testing of autonomous vehicles. Interface products are used by most of the major automobile OEM’s throughout the world. In 2018, we released one of our most advanced products to date, the Axial TQ™, which includes capabilities uniquely designed for autonomous vehicle testing. Our services in automotive include bolt fastening, brake pedal force testing, engine torque testing and more.

Here are a couple of application notes and a case study that outlines how Interface products are used in this sector:

As the urban mobility sector continues to grow, more advanced travel and delivery systems will require precise weight and torque testing to ensure unwavering reliability. The less control humans have over land and air vehicles, the more we need to trust the construction and design of these vehicles using proper force testing. Interface will continue to grow as a key player in the space as more OEM’s turn to our services to optimize the development of drones, autonomous vehicles, and other urban mobility innovations.

Contributor: Kim Williams, Interface Business Development Manager

Interface Displays Force Measurement Aerospace Applications at Space Tech Expo

As a leader in precision-based force measurement solutions serving the world’s largest aerospace and rocket makers in the world, Interface is proud to exhibit at Space Tech Expo 2019, May 20-22.

Interface a trusted leader with 51 year’s experience in supplying and customizing products that help in the design and test of aircraft and spacecraft vehicles, as well as ground equipment. Attendees can find our experts at booth #1016 at the Space Tech Expo 2019 in the Pasadena Convention Center in California.

During the Space Tech Expo, Interface is showcasing a variety of force measurement solutions used in various forms of aerospace test and measurement. www.interfaceforce.com/solutions/aerospace of Interface test and measurement products are commonly used for structural testing, wing tests, flight condition simulation testing, climate-controlled testing and thrust testing for rocket and airplane engines. Read more here.

Interface showcase includes a wide range of force measurement products, capabilities and www.interfaceforce.com/solutions/aerospace, including:

For additional information about Interface solutions for the aerospace industry, visit www.interfaceforce.com/solutions/aerospace.