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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

Driving Force in Automotive Applications

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

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

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

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

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

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

BRAKE PEDAL TESTING

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

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

Read the application note for Brake Pedal Testing here.

EV BATTERY TESTING

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

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

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

SUSPENSION TESTING

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

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

View the race car suspension testing application here.

MOTOR TESTING

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

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

You can read more about the AxialTQ in this post.  

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

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