Posts

Understanding Torque Transducers for Motion Control Systems

A motion control system is an integrated set of components that work together to control the movement of a machine or device. It typically includes four main elements: controllers, sensors, actuators, and drives.

Torque transducers are essential components in motion control systems. They are important in controlling rotating machinery by providing real-time feedback on the applied torque accurately and efficiently.

Selecting the right torque transducer for a motion control system depends on several major factors, including use case, measurement range, accuracy requirements, speed, and environment.

Industry use cases of motion control systems require different torque measurement capabilities. For example, a robotic arm may need a torque transducer with a high resolution and fast response time. In contrast, a wind turbine may need a torque transducer with a high torque capacity and a long lifespan.

Motion control systems have the same basic goal: to control the movement of a machine or device in a precise and controlled method. Evaluation of the type of torque transducer for your motion control system is important based on type, measurement capacities, accuracy, and speed. Do you need a rotary torque transducer or a static device, known as a reaction torque transducer?

Torque Transducers for Motion Control Systems

Rotary torque transducers are designed to be mounted directly on a rotating shaft. These dynamic transducers are ideal for measuring torque in motors, pumps, and turbines.

Reaction transducers measure the torque applied to a stationary object. These static transducers are ideal for measuring torque in automotive applications such as brakes and clutches.

The torque transducer should withstand the environmental conditions it will be used, including factors such as temperature, vibration, and chemical exposure. These details should be easily identifiable in a review of the transducer’s specifications.

TIP: Use Interface’s Torque Transducer Selection Guide for easy device comparisons.

Why are torque transducers used in motion control systems?

Closed-loop control: Torque transducers enable closed-loop control of motors and drives. By measuring the actual torque output, the control system can compare it to the desired torque and adjust the motor speed or power output to maintain it. This ensures precise and consistent operation of the system, regardless of load variations.

Overload protection: Torque transducers can protect motors and other components from damage caused by excessive torque. By monitoring the torque in real-time, the system can shut down the motor or activate other protective measures if the torque exceeds a predetermined safe limit. This prevents costly equipment failures and downtime.

Optimization and efficiency: Torque transducers help optimize the performance of motion control systems by providing valuable data for analysis and improvement. Engineers can identify areas where the system can be more efficient by measuring the torque at different operating points. This can lead to reduced energy consumption, improved productivity, and increased product quality.

Safety: In safety-critical applications, torque transducers play a vital role in ensuring the safe operation of machinery. The system can take appropriate action to prevent accidents or injuries if the torque exceeds a safe limit by providing data on the torque applied to safety-related components.

Motion Control Applications

Here are four examples of how torque transducers are used in different types of motion control systems:

ROBOTICS: Torque transducers are used to control the movement of robotic arms with high precision. They ensure the robot arm applies the correct force to move objects without damaging them.

MACHINERY: Torque transducers control the spindle speed and feed rate of CNC machines, ensuring accurate and consistent machining operations.

ENERGY: Torque transducers are used to monitor the torque output of wind turbines and optimize their performance. This helps maximize energy production and ensure the safe operation of the turbines.

EV: Torque transducers are used in the drivetrains of electric vehicles to control the torque delivered to the wheels. This enables efficient and smooth acceleration and deceleration.

Should you use torque couplings instead of key shafts in motion control systems?

If your motion control system demands high precision, efficiency, and reliability, removing key shafts and employing torque couplings might be beneficial.

Keyless solutions can reduce downtime and associated costs in applications requiring frequent maintenance. Compact torque couplings can be a better fit than bulky key shafts in tight spaces.

If perfect shaft alignment is challenging, flexible torque couplings can compensate for misalignment and prevent potential problems.

TIP: Visit Torque Coupling Selection Guide for options.

Reviewing your use case to determine if key shafts are necessary for your motion control system is important. There are advantages to keeping key shafts. Replacing key shafts with torque couplings can offer several advantages, including:

  • Elimination of keyways: Keyways are slots cut into the shaft and hub to accommodate a key. This weakens the shaft and can lead to stress concentrations and fatigue failures. Torque couplings eliminate the need for keyways, improving the strength and integrity of the shaft.
  • Reduced maintenance: Keys can wear and loosen over time, requiring periodic maintenance and replacement. Torque couplings, on the other hand, are generally maintenance-free.
  • Improved performance: Torque couplings can transmit torque more efficiently than keys. This can lead to improved performance and efficiency in the overall system.
  • Reduced noise and vibration: Keys can cause noise and vibration, especially at high speeds. Torque couplings can help to reduce noise and vibration levels.
  • Simplified assembly and disassembly: Keys can be difficult to install and remove, especially in tight spaces. Torque couplings are generally easier to assemble and disassemble.
  • Increased flexibility: Some torque couplings can accommodate misalignment between shafts, which can be helpful in applications where perfect alignment is difficult to achieve.

Whether to use torque couplings to replace key shafts depends on the specific application. However, torque couplings can offer significant advantages in strength, performance, and ease of use in many cases.

Torque transducers are versatile tools that play a vital role in various motion control systems. They provide accurate and reliable data on the applied torque, enabling closed-loop control, overload protection, system optimization, and enhanced safety.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Trends in Torque Transducer Applications in the Auto Industry

Interface Introduces New Torque Coupling Guide

Torque Transducers and Couplings are the Perfect Pairing

Miniature Torque Transducers 101

Choosing the Right Torque Transducer

A Comparison of Torque Measurement Systems: Download the white paper.

AxialTQ for Anything That Turns and Needs Testing

Torque Transducers and Couplings are the Perfect Pairing

Torque transducers require couplings to enhance precision and reliability in performance. The pairing ensures accurate measurements. The coupling enables the torque transducer to precisely measure torque while maintaining a secure mechanical connection to the rotating components. This facilitates data collection, analysis, and control, leading to improved performance, efficiency, and reliability when using a torque transducer in various test and measurement applications.

Couplings are designed to provide a strong and secure connection between the shafts, ensuring efficient torque transmission while minimizing stress and wear on the components. They come in distinct types and designs, each suited for specific applications and operating conditions.

For example, rigid couplings provide a solid and inflexible connection between the shafts, allowing for precise torque transmission but offering little or no flexibility to compensate for misalignments. Whereas flexible couplings are designed to accommodate small misalignments and angular offsets between the shafts. They use flexible discs to provide some degree of flexibility, dampen vibrations, and reduce stress on the connected components.

Interface Torque Transducer Models T2, T3, T4, T5, T6, T7, T8, T11 and T25 offer a range of product-specific coupling options. It is important to note that couplings are not universal, and your best options are always the couplings designed for the specific model, thus the perfect pairing. To demonstrate the range of options, here is a quick list of coupling designs:

  • Floating Mount Keyed Single Flex Couplings
  • Pedestal or Foot Mount Keyed Double Flex Couplings
  • Floating Mount Clamping Ring Single Flex Couplings
  • Pedestal or Foot Mount Clamping Ring Double Flex Couplings
  • Floating Mount Shrink Disk Single Flex Couplings
  • Pedestal or FootMount Shrink Disk Double Flex Couplings
  • Floating Mount Single Flex Couplings
  • Pedestal or Foot Mount Double Flex Couplings

A torque transducer coupling is a specific coupling designed to facilitate the connection and torque measurement between a torque transducer and a rotating shaft, providing accurate and reliable torque data. Whenever you are selecting an Interface torque transducer, be sure to request or add the Interface couplings that are designed for that specific transducer model. It is especially important to review the couplings features that pairs with your specific transducer. They are designed to work together, and you risk any problems or potential transducer failure.

Torque Transducers Require Couplings for Accuracy and to Safeguard Your Investment

Without a coupling, the torque transducer cannot be mechanically connected to the rotating shaft or component. As a result, it will not be able to measure the torque being transmitted through the shaft. This means you will lose the ability to accurately monitor and analyze torque in the system.

Using couplings is a standard requirement when using a torque transducer. They provide the mechanical connection, transmission and reduce misalignments, which all contributes to accurate and reliable torque measurements with torque transducers.

A coupling provides a means of mechanically connecting the torque transducer to the rotating shaft or component from which torque is being measured. It ensures a secure and reliable connection between the transducer and the system under test. In the absence of a coupling, the torque transducer may not be securely attached to the rotating shaft. This can lead to relative movement or slippage between the transducer and the shaft,

The coupling enables the transfer of torque from the rotating shaft to the torque transducer. As the shaft rotates, the torque is transmitted through the coupling to the transducer, which measures and converts it into an electrical signal for further analysis or control.

A coupling helps to compensate for small misalignments between the shaft and the transducer. Without a coupling, any misalignment between the two components can put additional stress on the transducer and the shaft, potentially causing premature wear, increased friction, or even catastrophic failure.

Couplings can also provide vibration damping properties by design, as they absorb or dampen vibrations and shocks that may be present in the system. This helps to protect the torque transducer from excessive mechanical stresses and safeguards torque measurements. Without a proper coupling, the transducer may also be susceptible to excessive vibrations or shocks, increasing the risk of mechanical failure.

Torque Transducer and Couplings Applications

If you are looking at a torque transducer use case, assume there are couplings that are part of the application. To point out common examples of testing programs that utilize couplings with high-performance torque transducers, the first place to start is in the automotive industry. In the automotive industry, high-performance torque transducers with couplings are used for various testing purposes. For example, during the development and testing of engines, transmissions, and drivetrain components, torque transducers coupled with the rotating shafts allow for precise measurement of torque and power output. Torque measurement data is crucial for performance analysis, efficiency optimization, and durability testing.

Torque transducers with couplings are extensively utilized in the engineering, testing, and use of industrial automation, machinery and equipment. Manufacturing processes that involve rotating components, such as pumps, compressors, and turbines, are using torque transducers coupled with the shafts to provide measurements of torque. Accuracy in data helps monitor the efficiency of the machinery, detect deviations, and ensure standard operation. All of this contributes to preventative maintenance.

There are many R&D use cases where torque transducers with couplings are required. We often see torque transducers and couplings used in material testing and structural analysis. In the renewable energy sector, wind turbines and hydroelectric generators use torque transducers and couplings.

These examples the coupling enables the torque transducer to accurately measure torque while maintaining a secure mechanical connection to the rotating components.  To explore more about couplings, be sure to tune into our recorded torque transducers webinar.


Additional Resources

Couplings 101

Torque Transducer Selection Guide

Miniature Torque Transducers 101

Choosing the Right Torque Transducer

Fuel Pump Optimization & Rotary Torque

A Comparison of Torque Measurement Systems White Paper

Rover Wheel Torque Monitoring

Torque Measurement Primer

New Interface Torque Transducer Selection Guide

Interface produces content to help our customers in choosing the right force measurement products for their exact application requirements. From our Force Measurement 101 Series to the weekly Interface IQ posts, our focus is in building a repository of support resources that meet the needs of test and measurement professionals across all types of industries.

Our new Interface Torque Transducer Selection Guide helps to quickly evaluate the range of Interface’s torque transducer models based on whether you need a reaction (static) or rotary (dynamic) style. The guide assists in selecting best torque sensor based on features and capabilities, such as bearingless, contactless, compact, miniature, force and torque, overload protected, wireless, and USB output options.

Interface’s new web resource covers several types of torque sensors including flange mount, shaft type, square drive, hex drive, and couplings. If you’ve read our blog Choosing the Right Torque Transducer, which would also be a good place to start, you will understand how important it is to choose the right product, options and accessories for the job.

A torque sensor selection guide is typically used by engineers or technicians who need to choose a torque sensor for a specific application. Here are four easy steps to follow when using the Interface Torque Transducer Selection Guide:

  1. Determine the requirements of your application: Before selecting a torque sensor, you need to understand the specific requirements of your application. This includes the torque range you need to measure, the type of torque reaction versus rotary, shaft or mounting of the components you will be measuring, the environment in which the sensor will be used, and any other relevant factors related to the type of device you choose.
  2. Choose the type of torque sensor: There are several types of torque sensors available, including reaction or rotary, shaft or flange, shaft style, floating or fixed, and bearings or bearingless. The selection guide provides information about the features of each type, so you can choose the one that is best suited for your use case.
  3. Consider the accuracy and resolution: These both are key factors to consider, especially if you need to make precise measurements. The selection torque guide helps deliver specification details for each torque sensor, so you can choose the one that meets your requirements.
  4. Evaluate the physical characteristics: The physical characteristics of the torque transducer includes the size and shape of the sensor, the mounting options, and any distinctive features such as temperature compensation or overload protection.

By following these steps and using the information provided in the Interface Torque Transducer Selection Guide, it is easier to choose a sensor that is well-suited for your application and provides accurate and reliable measurements you require.

The Interface Torque Transducer Selection Guide helps to define the right product, as well as provide supplemental help and answers to frequently asked questions, including:

  • What is a torque transducer?
  • Reaction versus Rotary?
  • Shaft versus Flange?
  • Floating versus Fixed?
  • Bearings versus Bearingless?
  • Dual Range
  • RPM Considerations
  • Accuracy and Resolution
  • Coupling Types

Unsure of where to start? Check out Torque Transducers 101 or Recap of New Twist on Torque including the complete webinar below. In addition to our standard products, Interface has a custom solutions group that can collaborate with you to customize torque transducers, instrumentation, and complete measurement systems to fit your exact needs.  Contact Interface’s torque expert application engineers if you need assistance or require a quote.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

 

Miniature Torque Transducers 101

Choosing the Right Torque Transducer

A Comparison of Torque Measurement Systems White Paper

Torque Measurement Primer

Aircraft Yoke Torque Measurement

Fuel Pump Optimization & Rotary Torque

CPG Dental Handpiece Torque Check

Torque-Transducer-Brochure

New Additions to Interface Product Catalog

Every month our team at Interface adds new technologies and solutions to our extensive product catalog.  This year, we’ve added several new force measurement devices and supporting instrumentation to use in test & measurement projects, as well to create complete systems.  The following highlight some of these new additions.

NEW INTERFACE PRODUCTS

The following products are the latest additions to our robust line of standard load cells and torque transducers offerings, along with several new instrumentation options available for pairing with different sensor models.

TORQUE TRANSDUCERS

AT105 Contactless Force Torque Transducer

Highly accurate and maintenance free, contactless, rotating, torque force sensor with digital signal transmission from rotor to stator.

AT104 Compact Size Force/Torque TransducerAT104 Compact Size Force Torque Transducer

Reliable and durable reaction torque force sensor that is ideal for testing in small places, it is non-rotating, often used with a very short axial length.

LOAD CELLS

IPCD Pressure Compensated Downhole Load Cell

Superior to hydraulically compensated wet load cells provides high accuracy, is maintenance free and pressure compensated up to 20,000 PSI and temperature compensated up to 350°F.

MBS Parallelogram Load Cell

The mini load cell is made of lightweight aluminum construction is available is capacities from 2.2 to 100 lbf (9.8 to 445 N).

WSSB Welded Stainless Steel IP68 Environment Protected S-Beam

Ideal for measuring both tension and compressive forces has standard metric threads at each end of the load cell designed to accept standard spherical seating rod-end bearings.

INSTRUMENTATION

9840TQ mV/V Input Torque Transducer Indicator

Provides a TEDS template 33 & 40 (3-point linearization) and is plug and play ready. It is IEEE1451.4 compliant with read and write capability with lbf-ft, lbf-in, N-m and mV/V measurement units.

BSC1 Single Channel PC Interface Module & Bridge Amplifier

A single channel 2.5 analog output, up to 10 mV/V input, 15-pin connector and USB powered and has graphing and logging software.

BSC2 Dual Channel PC Interface Module

Model offers 2-channels USB output, up to 10 mV/V input with two M12 connectors. It is USB powered and incudes graphing and logging software.

BX6-BT Portable 6-Channel High Speed Bluetooth Data Logger

A multi-channel amplifier with Bluetooth connection and data logger functions, which offers exceptionally many features in the smallest dimensions.

INF1-Ethernet TCP IP Single Sensor Weight Transmitter and Indicator

INF1 has a six-digit red LED display (8 mm height), space-saving compact design and four buttons for the system calibration.

INF4-EtherCat Two, Three, and Four Sensor Weight Transmitter and Indicator

INF4has a six-digit display in a compact design with four buttons for the system calibration, and a six indicator LED.

JB1100 4-Channel Advanced Signal Conditioning Transmitter Indicator and Junction Box

This is a multi-functional, compact 4-channel instrumentation solution ideal for PLC systems requiring weight data from load cells.

VSC2 Rugged Compact Vehicle Powered Signal Conditioner

This new model is a high accuracy precision differential amplifier designed for use in harsh environments with low thermal error and an operating range from -40 to +125 C.

When reviewing your options for instrumentation based on features such as type of output, required channels, added software, programmability, speed, logging and graphing capabilities, TEDS ready, and enclosures, be sure to utilize our new Instrumentation Selection Guide.

If you have technical questions or need assistance in choosing the right load cell or instrumentation, please contact our experts.  We are here to assist you.

AxialTQ Technical White Paper Details Comparative Testing

Recently, Interface put together a full comparison of our AxialTQ™ Torque Transducer measurement systems versus a competitor’s system that offers a DIN120, 1kNm capacity transducer. To view the complete details, read the new Interface technical white paper A Comparison of Torque Measurement Systems, authored by Jay Bradley, Interface Electrical Engineering Manager.

Here is a brief overview covering the crucial results of the comparison testing.

About AxialTQ Torque Transducer

Since 2018, the AxialTQ has redefined the category of torque measurement systems in terms of function, accuracy, and customizable compatibility. It’s a must have torque transducer for anyone working to minimize uncertainty when measuring anything that turns. It is specifically designed for the expanding torque measurement needs in fields that include the automotive industry, as well as the aerospace and industrial automation sectors.

At the heart of AxialTQ’s innovation is the rotor and high-precision sensing element technology, which when combined with the electronics component, produces industry-leading accuracy. This product is also fully customizable due to its ability to use simultaneous analog and digital outputs. This is key, as it enables real-time control and data collection. The flexible capability of the stator and output module mounting offers an infinite number of configurations to meet any application needs.

AxialTQ was designed and engineered by Interface in direct collaboration with end-users who shared their wish-lists for operational priorities, user profiles, design specifications, feature preferences, and real-world field challenges they wanted a solution to resolve.

The unique decision to implement an axial gap, as opposed to the industry standard radial gap, means there is minimized concern that the shaft, rotor and stator will make contact, significantly reducing the possibility of damaging the system.

Installation Overview

AxialTQ features a 120° stator coil giving it the ability to be mounted in several different orientations. While the full stator loop of the competing system must be carefully aligned with the rotor. AxialTQ’s large axial gap of up to 6mm and radial gap of up to 12mm also allows for small misalignments or rotor movement. The competing system has a small radial gap of 1mm and ±2mm when installed, providing less flexibility and durability. The stators of both the AxialTQ and the competing system have multicolor status LEDs that indicate proper alignment and data transmission.

Performance Testing and Validation

The tests found that both systems performed well and met their respective operating specifications. Some of the dynamic testing was performed only once due to time constraints. This testing also has a greater uncertainty of measurement because of the test setup.

In this comparison we tested the installation process, as well as performance for the following specifications:

  • Zero balance stability
  • Shunt calibration stability and repeatability
  • Measurement repeatability
  • Measurement non-linearity
  • Measurement hysteresis
  • Axial force crosstalk
  • Zero balance over operating temperature
  • Axial gradient temperature performance

Overall, both systems performed in line with specifications. Areas in which the AxialTQ stood out included change in zero-balance readings, performance in operating temperature ranges, and in the in-house spin testing cycles.

Configuration Advantages

Unlike the competing system, the AxialTQ has one analog voltage or current output, two analog frequency outputs, and a digital serial output which are all active and independently scalable and filtered. This means that by applying different scaling to two different outputs, the AxialTQ can operate like a dual range sensor.

Durability

AxialTQ also has a significant advantage in durability. The large axial (up to 6mm) and radial (typically 12 mm) gaps between the rotor and stator make it highly unlikely that the rotor will contact the stator because of harmonic vibration, torque pulse or some other event. Both the rotor and stator coils of the AxialTQ are fabricated from 0.125in (3.18mm) thick FR4, with any conductors located at least 0.05in (1.27mm) from the edge. If damaged, these coils are easily replaced in the factory.

AxialTQ is innovative alternative to current systems and includes creative solutions to overcome some of the challenges that diminish performance in these systems as well. To learn more about go to our AxialTQ product page.

Additional Resources

Recap of Latest Spin on AxialTQ Webinar

AxialTQ Engine Dynamometer Application Note

The AxialTQ Dynamometer

AxialTQ for Anything That Turns and Needs Testing

Insights in Torque Testing Featured in Quality Magazine

With the explosive growth in industrial automation and advanced manufacturing, torque measurement is a hot topic for test and measurement applications across a multitude of industries. We see demand rising due to the use in electric and autonomous vehicle testing, as well as in building components used in robotics and for spacecraft. Demand for torque transducers is so popular, Quality Magazine asked Interface’s product and custom solutions expert Keith Skidmore to contribute an article all about torque testing and how to get the most out of the transducer’s testing data.

Interface has a deep line of innovative torque transducers used where torque measurement is critical to the success of engineering and manufacturing products and components. We provide both an extensive array of standard transducers and custom torque solutions to be used in applications as large as rocket ships, to as small as measuring the torque on a bolt wrench.

Included below is a brief overview of Keith Skidmore’s contributed article in Quality Magazine outlining the basics of torque testing and providing examples of real-world applications of Interface products used to test and measure torque.

Getting The Most Out of Torque Testing

Torque is defined as the rotational equivalent of linear force. It’s a measure of how much a force acting on an object causes that object to rotate. This is one of the key measurements for engineers doing design, test, and manufacturing across a wide variety of industries where machines, vehicles, components and parts include a spinning or rotating motion. It’s critical to understand how to measure torque if you’re doing product development with these types of systems such as engines, crankshafts, gearboxes, transmissions, and rotors.

The incredibly wide variety of torque transducers, different types of devices and tests and the accompanying accessories necessary for different projects can make it difficult to determine what is needed for each individual application. For instance, torque tests are often used in the automotive industry to assess engine torque and speed, but the products used can differ between a typical gas vehicle and newly introduced electric vehicles. Torque is also frequently used to test the tightness of a variety of lug nuts and screws, which is an entirely different measurement solution.

This article provides a brief overview of the key considerations when planning for a torque test. It includes the different types of torque testing, the different torque sensor styles, accessories, mounts, and other tips and tricks. It also provides a brief overview of the potential applications of torque tests with pictures.

The article goes on to provide the basics of torque testing, as well as providing real world applications of torque test and measurement. Here is a preview of one of the applications included in Keith’s contribution to Quality Magazine. To read the article in its entirety, please click the link here.

Engine Dynamometer Testing

In this application example, a rotary torque transducer is used to measure the speed and torque of an engine. This rotary transducer can sense the torque of the engine with high precision and provide an electrical output that is converted from an analog to a digital signal. A rotary transducer is necessary due to the spinning element involved in the engine. It’s paired with a very high-quality coupling and is mounted in a fixed position. Both are necessary to account for the high speeds used in the test. This application would allow the user to measure both torque and speed of the engine simultaneously, which will provide valuable data in confirming the design of the engine or determining if it needs to be adjusted for the vehicle it will drive.

To see the range of torque products offered by Interface, download our Interface Torque Transducers brochure.

Additional Resources

New Twist on Torque Webinar

Torque Measurement for Electric Vehicles

Dental Handpiece Torque Check

OEM: Torque Verification

AxialTQ™ Wireless Rotary Torque Transducer

 

Interface Force Measurement Solutions Featured in Quality Magazine

Choosing a force measurement device and getting the most out of it is a tricky process, even for the most seasoned engineers. So, when Quality Magazine asked our Chief Engineer and VP of Quality, Ken Vining, to share his knowledge of force measurement, he decided to put together a guide on what to look for in force measurement equipment and how to use and maintain your equipment properly.

In his Quality Magazine article titled, “Selecting and Using a Force Measurement Device: Everything you need to know,” Vining explains the contributing factors to force measurement device quality and accuracy, as well as a few tips and tricks to make sure you’re getting the best possible accuracy and longevity out of your device.

Included below is a brief introduction from article:

Force measurement devices like load cells, torque transducers and data acquisition devices are used across industries to design and test hardware. They’re a key factor in the product development process because the force, torque and weight data they collect helps to ensure products are accurately constructed, work as intended, are safe for use, and can withstand the test of time. In highly regulated and complex industries like medical and defense, this data becomes even more important because any miscalculation in the design of a product can put lives at risk.

The first thing to understand is every project requiring a load cell or torque transducer has different variables affecting accuracy and quality. And for every situation in product development and testing, there is a load cell to fit your precise need. Therefore, the most important step in ensuring accurate and high-quality data is speaking to a force measurement expert about the details of a project.

There are five key factors you need to know related to data accuracy, and three factors related to force measurement device quality. I’ll explain why each factor can contribute to inaccuracies and what to look for when selecting a device based on material selection, build quality, and environmental factors… READ MORE

Additional Ken Vining feature

For additional information on selecting and using your force measurement device, please contact our solutions experts.

Exploring Aerospace Force Measurement Solutions

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 NASA Parker Solar Probe is the culmination of some of the most impressive technology ever developed by mankind, journeying through the skies and beyond earth’s atmosphere with the ability to reach a top speed of 430,000 miles per hour.

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. The range of aircraft and space vehicles include all types from unpowered gliders to commercial and military aircraft, as well as rockets, missiles, launch vehicles, and spacecraft. The term aerospace comes from the combination of the words aeronautics and spaceflight. All of these vehicles go through extensive and rigorous test and measurement programs and processes.

For more than half a decade, Interface has served some of the most prominent aerospace organizations in the nation including NASA, Boeing, Northrop Grumman and more. Our sensor technology has been used to design, test and manufacture airplane frames, wings, landing gear, rocket engines and even the machines that build the components for these products. These projects require the most precise data available, not only to ensure that the airplane or spaceship can fly and land, but more importantly to guarantee its safety for the pilot, crew and passengers.

Interface is humbled and proud to provide critical force measurement solutions and technology to the aerospace industry, in support of science, innovation and exploration.

Interface is often selected by our aerospace customers over the competition because we offer the most accurate and reliable force measurement products on the market. In this blog, we will be outlining how Interface serves the aerospace industry in validating designs, improving performance and maintain the highest safety possible.

AIRCRAFT

One of the most important tests to run in aircraft development is static and fatigue testing on the frame of the aircraft and the wings. Engineers will often simulate the effects of various forces on the aircraft and wings with actuators which act as of wind, weather, debris and more. Hundreds of Interface load cells are used to measure those forces to either validate the simulations or find errors in order to adjust the simulation and design accordingly. Load cells are also used on the machines controlling these forces in the test environment to ensure the actuators are simulating the right amount of force.

READ THIS APP NOTE FOR AIRCRAFT WING FATIGUE TESTING

ROCKETS

For a spacecraft that can weigh up to 1,000 tons, you need a lot of force to get it off the ground and safely out of the earth’s atmosphere. One of the ways that engineers test the thrust force of a rocket engine is with load cells. During these tests, the engine is attached under the mounting plate, which is part of a test stand. Interface load cells are installed between the plate and test stand and when the rocket thrust pushes up on the plate, the load cells relay the force data to the engineers. These tests help engineers make adjustments to the engine to use the precise amount of force to lift the craft into space, but not too much so that it doesn’t burn up too much fuel.

READ THIS CASE STUDY: LAUNCHING INTO ORBIT WITH INTERFACE

AEROSPACE MANUFACTURING

Before the air and spacecrafts are even assembled, the components need to be manufactured in a plant. There are hundreds of machines that are used on the production line for the hundreds of thousands of components needed to complete the craft. Interface load cells and torque transducers can be found on many of these machines. Not only are they used to help test the machines, they are also used to measure various forces on the machines in real-time. Our products are used to provide a wealth of insight to tell the manufacturers if the machine is working properly, needs to be recalibrated or needs repairs.

READ THIS APP NOTE FOR ROCKET STRUCTURAL TESTING

For more information on the numerous applications of Interface products in the aerospace and space industry, visit our solutions page at www.interfaceforce.com/solutions/aerospace/. Here you can read application notes and browse the various products we offer for our customers.

To watch an actual aircraft structural, check out this great Airbus video of an actual test.

Contributor: Randy White, Regional Sales Director at Interface

Instrumentation Options in Test and Measurement

Force and torque measurement technologies such as load cells and torque transducers are a single part of an overall system often used for test and measurement projects and programs. Instrumentation is also a key component of force and torque measurement systems. Instrumentation tools are functional for visualizing and logging the sensor data.

When considering all the options for your project, product designers and engineers need to evaluate the type of instrumentation required to read and gather the sensor output and display the results.

Common questions to ask in preparing your test and measurement project, building a system or setting up a lab:

  • Where are you going to connect your sensor technology and how?
  • Do you need to store your data?
  • Do you prefer an analog or digital output device?
  • Are you going to plug-in your instrumentation or use hand-held, wireless or Bluetooth connectivity?
  • How will your data output be displayed?
  • How many channels do you need for your project or program?

These are all questions related to instrumentation devices and how they interact with and connect to your test and measurement products. Because of the wide variety of instrumentation options, from transmitters and indicators to data logging, it is critical to carefully review the features, specifications, capacities for each. Engineers and testers should review capabilities for data collection of a device, connectors and adapter requirements, and how the device works with specific types of load cells, torque transducers, multi-axis sensors, and other testing equipment.

A valuable tip is to spend time reviewing the specifications of any instrumentation device you are considering, as well as speak with an experienced application engineer. The critical model and design details are provided in the product datasheet to help in your selection.

Key areas to consider in your review and design of a force and torque measurement systems include:

  • Excitation
  • Outputs
  • Performance standards
  • Environmental performance
  • Power
  • Mechanical definitions
  • Connections
  • Protocols

There are dozens of instrumentation options available through Interface including signal conditionersoutput moduleshigh-speed data loggersportable load cell indicatorsweight indicators, and junction boxes. Here are some of our latest additions and most popular instrumentation products:

Download our Instrumentation Brochure
Download our NEW Digital Instrumentation Brochure

Terms and Definitions

To help get you started on the process of selecting the right instrumentation for your project, we have compiled a list of common terms used for instrumentation and in force measurement and sensor technology product descriptions.

  • Accuracy: The closeness of an indication or reading of a measurement device to the actual value of the quantity being measured. Usually expressed as ± percent of full-scale output or reading.
  • Adapter: A mechanism or device for attaching non-mating parts.
  • Amplifier: A device that draws power from a source other than the input signal and which produces as an output an enlarged reproduction of the essential features of its input.
  • Analog Output: A voltage or current signal that is a continuous function of the measured parameter.
  • Analog-to-Digital Converter (A/D or ADC): A device or circuit that outputs a binary number corresponding to an analog signal level at the input.
  • Bluetooth: A standard for the short-range wireless interconnection of mobile phones, computers, and other electronic devices.
  • Bus Formats: A bus is a common pathway through which information flows from one computer component to another. The common expansion bus types include, Industry Standard Architecture (ISA), Extended Industry Standard Architecture (EISA), Micro Channel Architecture (MCA), Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA), Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI), PCI Express (PCI-X), Personal Computer Memory Card Industry Association, (PCMIA), Accelerated Graphics Port (AGP), Small Computer Systems Interface (SCSI).
  • Calibration: Process of adjusting an instrument or compiling a deviation chart so that its reading can be correlated to the actual value being measured.
  • Communication: Transmission and reception of data among data processing equipment and related peripherals.
  • Controller: Controllers deliver measurement and control functions that may be used in a wide variety of applications. They feature compact form and versatility in systems that require precise measurement of weight or force combined with processing and storage.
  • Digital Output: An output signal which represents the size of an input in the form of a series of discrete quantities.
  • Environmental Conditions: All conditions in which a transducer may be exposed during shipping, storage, handling, and operation.
  • Frequency: The number of cycles over a specified time period over which an event occurs. The reciprocal is called the period.
  • Indicator: Load cell indicators are often needed where the force, load or weight measurement needs to be displayed to a user visually and displaying the results on a PC is not feasible.
  • Intelligent Indicator: Intelligent Indicators ensure sensor equipment is used for the correct amount of time, thereby helping to safeguard against mistakes or purposeful misuse.
  • Output: The electrical signal which is produced by an applied input to the transducer.
  • Protocol: A formal definition that describes how data is to be exchanged.
  • Range: Those values over which a transducer is intended to measure, specified by its upper and lower limits.
  • Signal Conditioner: A circuit module which offsets, attenuates, amplifies, linearizes and/or filters the signal for input to the A/D converter. The typical output signal conditioner is +2 V dc.
  • Strain Gage: A measuring element for converting force, pressure, or tension into an electrical signal.
  • Transducer Electronic Data Sheet (TEDS): Provides a force or torque transducer with electronic identification, allows sensor instrument to be “Plug & Play Ready” meets IEEE 1451.4
  • Wireless: Broadcasting, computer networking, or other communication using radio signals, microwaves, and other signals.

If you still have questions about load cells, torque transducers, and the instrumentation options please give us a call at 480-948-5555 or visit www.interfaceforce.com.

For some of the key terms, we used an online reference you can find here: Source