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Faces of Interface Featuring Scott Dunne

A critical factor of becoming a successful engineer is becoming proficient at working with your hands. For Scott Dunne, Production Engineering Manager at Interface, training his brain and perfecting the use of his hands has been a passion since childhood and helped to elevate his role in the design and manufacturing of Interface’s leading force measurement products.

Growing up, Scott’s grandmother worked for Western Electric where she made telephones. From time-to-time, she would bring home parts or fully assembled phones for him to take apart and put back together. This simple example of bonding moments with his grandma fueled his desire for a career in engineering.

After high school, Scott attended the Newark College of Engineering (now known as NJIT) to pursue a degree in engineering. He was successful in earning a Bachelor of Science in industrial engineering and went on to start his career in the automotive industry with Adrionics.

At Adrionics, he assembled cables for harnesses that stretched from the back of the car radio to the steering column, most of which was done by hand. He worked there for a few years before moving into the power supply industry. While working at RTE Power-Mate, Scott made high-volume power supplies for the gaming industry. He later worked at TDI Power where he focused on low-volume, high-reliability power supplies for numerous industries.

After nearly 10 years in the power supply industry, Scott joined Ohaus Corporation, a manufacturer of digital scales and load cells. This was his first job in the force measurement industry and he quickly developed an enthusiasm for it. Scott rose through the ranks and eventually became the manufacturing engineering manager. When a major conglomerate purchased Ohaus, Scott was selected to help move the production line from New Jersey to Changzhou.

After an 18-month assignment in China, Scott returned to the U.S. and he and his wife decided it was time for a change, including a move out of the cold and into a warmer environment. He and his family moved to Scottsdale, Arizona, where he pursued a career with Interface because a former co-worker handed him a catalog from the company before he left New Jersey.

His experience building load cells made him the perfect fit for Interface and he was hired as an operations manager overseeing the production line in January 2000. After 14 years in this position, Scott became the product supply manager where he supervised Interface’s supply chain. As the Production Engineering Manager today, he is helping in the training and onboarding of Interface team members by sharing his depth of knowledge and experience in working with load cell technology.  He recently conducted a Load Cell 101 training for team members, which was sold out during every session.

“Ever since I began my career in engineering, I have been fascinated with the entire production and even sales process. One of the best things about working at Interface as a production engineer, I have a hand in everything from the start of the design to the final manufacturing of a variety of load cell and force measurement technologies. With this responsibility, I have the distinctive opportunity to learn more from a sales perspective in team meetings as to what our clients need today and even in the future. My position allows me to do what I love while expanding my knowledge of our industry.” Scott Dunne, Production Engineering Manager, Interface

In his free time, Scott continues to work with his hands doing woodworking. He is also a self-described “hockey nut,” and follows the New Jersey Devils and Phoenix Coyotes closely. He enjoys watching and attending games with his family.

Faces of Interface is an ongoing series shining a spotlight on Interface’s talented team members across the organization. Scott recently contributed a great post, Strain Gages 101. To follow Faces of Interface and to stay up-to-date on the company, please visit www.interfaceforce.com/blog/ and subscribe to the posts and newsletter.

Strain Gages 101

A strain gage is a sensor that varies its resistance as it’s stretched or compressed. When tension or compression is applied, the strain gage converts force, pressure, and weight into a change that can then be measured in the electrical resistance.

At the heart and soul of every load cell is a strain gage. This is the pinnacle technology that allows engineers to collect and analyze force data. In the industry, it is known as force measurement.

Strain gages are made through a photo-etch process using a flexible backing and a very thin foil. The way a strain gage works is when the backing and foil stretches or compresses, resistance goes up and down respectively. We know this as force. Think of stretching like a three-lane highway switching to two lanes, and vice versa for compression with two lanes going into three. As the load cell’s internal strain gage experiences force, it sends a signal with a precise measurement of the amount of force it’s experiencing.

There are many different types of strain gages for a variety of environments and force measurement needs. The major difference in strain gages is the base material used in the manufacturing process. Different materials are used when a load cell needs to perform optimally in a variety of temperatures, humidity levels, and elevations. Matching the correct strain gage and a load cell to the customer’s needs is critical to accuracy.

“Here at Interface, we pride ourselves on developing the most accurate force measurement tools, and it starts with our proprietary manufacturing of the strain gage.”  Scott Dunne, Production Engineering Manager

More than 52 years ago, when our founder Richard F. Caris started Interface, he purchased over a mile of foil, which is the base material used in strain gages. Caris understood the only way to ensure Interface customers received quality results from their force measurement products was to control every aspect of engineering design, product development, and production.

The key ingredient to our precision accuracy and reliability is the fact that we have vertically integrated the entire manufacturing process from design to production and have a deep understanding of the materials necessary to suit every client’s need for optimal results

Many load cell makers purchase their strain gages from a third party. This means there’s more variability in their manufacturing process and you often find the variances in their materials clash and diminish the accuracy, or they are not correctly suited for the customer’s project requirements.  Interface makes all their own strain gages.

We have learned everything there is to know about strain gage manufacturing and can guarantee the quality of our load cells in any environment based on this tenured expertise and having manufactured and calibrated hundreds of thousands (ok, millions) of force measurement devices. And here’s a fun fact, although we’ve manufactured hundreds of thousands of load cells and strain gages, we haven’t even used half of the original mile of foil we purchased in 1968. Good product managed well can go a long way!

For more information on Interface’s commitment to accuracy and reliability, we have written The Load Cell Field Guide, the definitive resource on load cells. It is available on Amazon. You can also download our latest technical white paper, Contributing Factors to Load Cell Accuracy, for free by clicking here.

Contributor:  Scott Dunne, Production Engineering Manager, Interface