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The Future of Force Measurement

In this post, Joel Strom, CEO at Interface, shared his vision for the company and force measurement predictions for 2020 and beyond. 

Engineering and manufacturing are continuously changing to keep up with the pace of fast-evolving technology. It feels like every time one of our customers releases a game-changing new product; they immediately go back to the drawing board to work on its next evolution. To enable our customers to meet the speed of innovation and compete in the expanding sensor marketplace, Interface must follow suit. That also means we are constantly looking at ways to improve the ingenuity and capability of our vast array of products and solutions.

Looking ahead to 2020 and the next five years, here are our predictions for the future of force measurement and how Interface is positioning ourselves as leaders in our industry.

Innovating for the Digital Age

For much of Interface’s 50-year history, we have developed analog load cells. This was always the way a load cell worked. In recent years, we have put a heavy focus on innovation and transforming our company for the digital age. The sensors we are building now allow our customers to transmit data wirelessly through WIFI and Bluetooth® technology. These products help to connect everything through the internet of things (IoT), giving our customers more accessibility in the way they collect and measure force data.

We are deliberately focusing on ways to provide our customers with more value from our entire suite of force measurement products, custom solutions, and services. Our goal is to connect everything we design, build and create ensuring the data our products gather can help make better decisions and automate processes greater efficiency and usability for our valued customers. Through the age of digital transformation, Interface is a partner to our customers in helping them do big things in the world.

Pushing the Limits in Force Measurement Technology

One of the biggest trends in force measurement is the demand for all-in-one tools and systems that provide more data points from a single product. Customers want their load cell and sensor technology to measure a combination of force, torque, vibration, position, speed and more.

We are addressing these requirements by investing in the next generation of our core products to improve the value to customers. As the most accurate and reliable load cell manufacturer, we want to push the limits on the accuracy, improve the temperature ranges of our products, and expand application uses and grow capacities. Using our ingenuity and industry experience, we also want to add more capability to our core products. Digitizing existing product lines is one way we are doing, as well as adding more sensors that can collect a wider range of data.

Exploring New Industries and Advanced Technology

One of the most exciting things about working in the force measurement industry is the fact that we are on the ground floor in developing new and innovative hardware. As we enter a new decade, we see expanding developments in space, robotics, and electric and autonomous vehicles. These are all products and inventions that require extremely accurate force measurement tools to create and test their innovations.

In order to stay on top of new technology, we are investing more in research and development than ever before. Imagining the possibilities, we are working closely with our customers, and in many cases partnering with them, to understand their evolving needs. Many of the products we have released in the last two years have been a direct response to customer requests and the application of imaginative thinking from our skilled leadership and engineering teams.

As we continue our journey in the 2nd 50 years of Interface, we are excited about the possibilities of force measurement and the new ways we can help our customers. We can’t wait to show you what we have on the horizon.

To stay up-to-date on new product announcements and to learn more about Interface and its commitment to accuracy, reliability, and innovation, please stay connected by subscribing to our blog and follow us on our social media channels: LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook.  You can also watch a recent company video highlighting why Interface was chosen as Arizona’s 2019 Manufacturer of the Year.

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Force Measurement Instrumentation 101

There are many types of instrumentation devices used in force measurement applications. Interface provides high-quality instrumentation tools to use with our wide range of load cells and torque transducers.

The variety of instrumentation solutions includes signal conditioners, output modules, high-speed data loggers, portable load cell indicators, weight indicators, and junction boxes.

Depending on the application requirements, Interface has solutions for full-data acquisition as well as wireless technology telemetry systems. Our multi-channel bridge amplifier has 4-channel capability, while the INF-USB2 universal serial has a sensor to USB output converter.  With more than 50 instrumentation products, the solutions range for all types of uses.

To provide you with more insight, here’s an overview of a few of Interface’s instrumentation offerings along with educational video demonstrations to help you.

4 Channel 9840-400-1-T Intelligent Indicator 

The Model 9840 is TEDS plug-and-play ready! It is suitable for use in calibration labs, field service, or anywhere high accuracy is important.  This intelligent digital indicator has auto-setup for multiple load cells with fast, direct analog output.  Features include two interactive 7″ graphical touch screen displays, remote sense, low noise, 24-bit internal resolution. It has a USB port with RS232 communication, mV/V calibration and can store calibrations for up to 25 sensors.  This unit also has self-calibration and is TEDS plug and play ready and IEEE 1451.4 compliant. It is fully compatible with the Gold Standard® Calibration Systems.

9860 High Speed Digital Indicator

Recently updated with new software, Interface’s Model 9860 High Speed Digital Indicator features an internal, high gain, fully differential amplifier with a 16-bit analog-to-digital converter combined to accurately digitize the input signal. The analog input is digitally filtered, with user-selected sample size and filter window (band), allowing optimization for specific operating conditions. With this model, self-calibrating ±10Vdc and 4-20mA analog output signals are standard. This product has an RS232 interface, which gives the instrument the ability to communicate, command, query operating modes and parameters and to continuously read data.

The Interface Transducer Electronic Data Sheet (TEDS) status indicator on the Model 9860 provides the information on the configuration of the input. A front panel RCAL switch provides a convenient calibration feature. Both calibration functions are easily performed via front panel pushbuttons.

Watch this video to learn how to calibrate your 9860 High Speed Digital Indicator and to see some of the product features.

DIG-USB Output Module

Interface’s DIG-USB Module is a compact, high-precision strain gage converter used for converting a strain gage sensor input to a digital output. It connects to a computer via a USB port. This product allows high precision measurements to be communicated directly to a computer and is aimed at applications which require high-accuracy measurement repeatability. With the appropriate drivers installed, the DIG-USB appears as a virtual serial port to the computer.

Simply by plugging the device into a computer, data can be extracted from most strain gage bridge input sensors and acquired by software which allows data manipulation removing the need for amplifiers, filters, and multi-meters.

Watch this video for a getting started demonstration with the DIG-USB Output Module.

9890 Strain Gage Indicator

Our 9890 Strain Gage Indicator is a full-featured multipurpose and easy-to-use digital strain gage and load cell meter ideal for weight and force measurement applications. With a max current of 350 mA at 10 V, it can support up to twelve 350 Ω load cells (minimum load resistance of 28 Ω), making it ideal for multipoint weight measurement applications. It accepts mV input signals up to 300 mV (unipolar) and ± 250 mV (bipolar). The 9890’s powerful dual-scale capability allows the measurement to be displayed in two different units of measure.

This video provides an overview of the 9890 Strain Gage Indicator and how it works.

920i Programmable Weight Indicator/Controller

The Interface 920i instrumentation device is a programmable, multi-channel digital weight indicator and controller. The configuration can be performed using the front panel, with an attached USB-type keyboard (or PS/2 keyboard if using a serial interface), or by using the iRev 4 utility. Model 920i is bidirectional and comes in a NEMA 4X stainless enclosure. Standard options include 8,000,000 internal counts, 4.6 x 3.4-inch LCD 7-digit display and a measurement rate that goes up to 960 Hz. Options are available that allow you to include analog and relay outputs.

This video provides an easy-to-follow getting start guide for the 920i Programmable Weight Indicator/Controller.

These are just a few of the dozens of instrumentation solutions Interface offers, all designed for unique application needs.  For more information on Interface’s instruments, visit our web product page or review our product brochure for detailed specifications on every product.

Instrumentation Brochure

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Visit Interface’s YouTube channel for all our indicator and product video demonstrations at https://www.youtube.com/interfaceforce and be sure to subscribe to stay current with our new releases.