Posts

Interface Recognized as Contributor to Human Flight Success

As a premium force measurement solutions provider, Interface load cells, torque transducers, and specialty products are frequently used by leading manufacturers, engineers, product designers and testing labs to drive innovation and industry advancements. Our products are utilized for developments and improvements in aerospace and defense, automotive, medical, industrial automation and more.

One of these industries that Interface has played a significant role in for decades as a solutions provider is the space industry. This includes providing products and services for designing and building space technologies like robotics and launch systems, as well as sensors for testing space qualified components, structures, satellites, observation equipment, space vehicles and more.

In our case study detailing our work with NASA, it is evident that our solutions for rockets and structural testing have been used by those advancing space exploration for many years.  In fact, aircraft, spacecraft, military, and defense companies such as Boeing, Airbus, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Bombardier, Embraer, Gulfstream, Cessna and others have depended on Interface load cells for thrust, wing, static, fatigue testing and more. While structural test applications utilize many types of LowProfile™ load cells, Interface also provide a wide variety of load pins, load shackles, tension links, load washers, load button load cells and miniature tension and compression load cells for test, production, and control monitoring applications of vehicles and spacecraft.

We recently participated in the industry’s Space Tech Expo, demonstrating the products and services we provide to those that are designing and building spacecraft for sending people and cargo into orbit. We highlighted some of the solutions we detailed in these resources:

Rocket Structure Testing

Interface and The Race to Space

Force Measurement for Space Travel

Aerospace and Defense

Commercial space has also been a hot topic in recent years with technology titans creating their own space program to launch civilians into space. These organizations include SpaceX, Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic and more. Interface has been tasked with helping to provide force measurement solutions for many of these companies. In fact, Interface was recently recognized by Blue Origin for contributing to their first sub-orbital launch with humans on board, the 16th New Shepard flight (NS-16).

With NS-16, Blue Origin successfully launched humans aboard the New Shepard 4 rocket. Its crew consisted of Blue Origin and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, his brother Mark Bezos, 82 year old Wally Funk, and 18 year old Oliver Daemen. From launch to touchdown the crew’s official mission time was 10 minutes 10 seconds. The crew spent a few minutes in weightlessness and reached an altitude of 107 km (351,210 feet), similar to the previous test flights.

Interface received a special certificate and historic patch from Blue Origin for our participation in the first human flight. Notably, Blue Origin recognized Interface with the following statement:

Performance excellence is fundamental to the success of both our companies. We extend our sincere gratitude to the employees of Interface for demonstrating their dedication to the high-performance standards necessary to meet customer expectations.

Our work in the space industry is of great importance to us because it requires the highest level of quality and accuracy possible. Interface prides itself on developing solutions to meet any need and our ability to contribute to this launch and many of the other NASA or commercial launches around the nation is a testament to these capabilities.

To learn more about our work in space, visit our www.interfaceforce.com/solutions/aerospace.

Solutions highlighted at Space Tech Expo 2021

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.

 

 

Aerospace and Defense Industry Solutions

Among the many applications Interface products are used for across multiple markets, there may be none that require the highest levels of accuracy, quality and reliability as does the aerospace and defense industry.

By classification, aerospace largely comprises of those engaged in producing and servicing of commercial aircraft. The defense market is defined as those providing military weapons and systems designed to operate in the air, in the sea or on land.

The aerospace and defense industries are global markets that continue to expand their use of precision sensor technologies for advancing innovations in autonomous vehicles and flight systems, electric and hydrogen engines, as well additive manufacturing applications. Interface proudly serves the world’s largest manufacturers and suppliers in www.interfaceforce.com/solutions/aerospace by providing world-class force and torque measurement solutions for these types of requirements, as well as for their future inventions.

Over the past two years, the trends in the global commercial space ecosystem along with defense needs have created unique requirements that benefit from our five decades of being a premium provider for A&D equipment manufacturers and testing labs. We are able to meet these trending demands through our standard, engineered to order and completely custom force, torque and systems. These solutions are being utilized in testing of all types of vehicles, on the ground, in the water, and for flight.

A&D is a unique industry because of the complex needs of many applications. When we develop applications for other industries, we’re typically focused on solving a few specific challenges, whether it’s related to cost, safety, performance, environment, or other engineering specified design requirements. In aerospace and defense, every one of these factors needs to be addressed, as well as some special needs. Applications in the aerospace and defense industry cannot fail. If they do, it can put people, both military and civilians, in danger. That’s why force products in the defense industry need to be of the highest quality in all key factors.

Below are a few applications for force measurement in the defense industry. Each demonstrates the criticality of proper force testing, as well as the complexity of the projects Interface has been involved in.

SLS Tank Test

As outlined in NASA’s article on the SLS Tank Test, NASA’s goal was to push the very limits of a test version of the world’s largest rocket fuel tank. The project put incredible flight test strain on the tank to try and push it to its breaking point. After five hours of testing and more than 260% of the expected flight load, the tank finally buckled. Doing this helped engineers gather data on the tank to help intelligently optimize the final rocket ship.

In this application, load cells played the key role of collecting the flight force data. The extreme nature of the flight tests meant that the load cells needed to be incredibly durable and provide accurate data all the way through the breaking point.

Structural Testing

For the many hundreds of thousands of commercial and military vehicles on the market, especially those that fly, there are numerous force tests involved to validate a design and ensure they’re safe and of the highest quality to move into production. Load cells and torque transducers are used across a wide variety of vehicles for structural testing. The torque of the helicopter rotor is measured and validated using a torque transducer, or the wings and hull of an airplane are put through wind tunnels and other stress tests with load cells installed to collect data. All of these force applications are critical to ensuring that these vehicles can last beyond their intended breaking point and offer complete peace of mind to operators and passengers. There are a million different things that a military pilot is thinking about – the structural integrity of his or her aircraft should never be one of them.

Custom Sensors

Another area that has grown in recent years as technology pushes the aerospace and defense market forward is custom sensors. Test has gotten more sophisticated as the move to big data becomes more prevalent, and Interface has addressed this by working directly with customers to develop custom sensors that address unique challenges.

One of the biggest areas where we have seen a growing need for custom sensors is on test stands in thrust application. Test stands are often used in field testing on rocket or plane engines. In certain field applications, the test stand is outfitted with numerous load cells that must be custom designed with features like weatherization, multiple bridges, very-high precision, and more. The reason for this is because the cost of a thrust test in fuel alone can be incredibly high. You usually only get one shot at a successful thrust test. If there are any issues with the sensor, it’s going to be costly.

Interface has deep experience developing custom sensors for our aerospace and defense partners. We understand their needs and work closely with their engineering team to ensure they get it right the first time. If you’re interested in learning more about Interface and our solutions for the aerospace and defense industry, please visit us at www.interfaceforce.com/solutions/aerospace.

For additional references, check out our A&D related case studies and application notes:

Launching Into Orbit with Interface

Force Measurement for Space Travel

Interface’s Crucial Role in Vehicle and Urban Mobility Markets

Aircraft Wing Fatigue Test

Rocket Structural Test

Wind Tunnel Testing

Contributor: Elliot Speidell, Interface Regional Sales Director

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 www.interfaceforce.com/solutions/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

Launching Into Orbit With Interface

Interface supplies force measurement solutions and services to help the world’s largest aerospace organizations in the design and test of space vehicles and ground equipment. We pride ourselves on the accuracy and reliability of our products, and it is our key differentiator in serving highly regulated markets with zero room for error.

Working with NASA is a pinnacle in providing advanced test and measurement solutions for use in vehicle designs used for space exploration. We have the privilege of engaging with this highly respected space agency and we wrote a case study on the experience. This blog provides an abbreviated version of the study.

Challenge

NASA’s latest efforts have been centered around human deep space exploration, opening new possibilities for scientific missions to places like the Moon, Mars, Saturn, and Jupiter.  Getting a rocket and its payload beyond earth’s orbit is no easy task. There’s nothing more important than structural integrity, and achieving it on a rocket is incredibly difficult. Faced with these challenges, NASA turned to Interface to aid in the development of its Space Launch System (SLS) to replace its Saturn 5 rocket.

Interface Solution

Due to the massive size of the rocket, Interface provided NASA with two different models of custom load cells that ranged to accurately measure the forces the SLS will experience during its use.  Interface also fulfilled NASA’s extremely high accuracy requirements for force measurements by using finite element analysis to revitalize its existing 2000 series load cell design.

Results

Multiple custom Interface load cells were attached to hydraulic cylinders at different points along the test stand to measure the load produced by each cylinder within 0.05 percent. With these custom high precision load cells, engineers were able to evaluate loads applied to different areas of the rocket structure, allowing them to accurately verify the structural performance under simulated launch conditions.

For more information on how Interface helps to solve aerospace challenges and provide advancement in test and measurement, go to www.interfaceforce.com/solutions/aerospace.

Read the full Interface NASA Case Study here: Interface Case Study for NASA Solutions