Tension Load Cells 101

A tension load cell is a type of force sensor used to measure tensile forces in materials, structures, or machines. It is used to measure the maximum load that a material can support without fracture when being pulled or stretched under the applied load. A strain gage manufactured inside the load cell sensor measures the deformation and converts it into an electrical signal.

The main difference between a tension load cell and a compression load cell is the direction in which they measure the force being pushed or pulled. Though most Interface high performance load cells are designed for both tension and compression, specific load cells are calibrated in tension only to measure forces that pull or stretch a structure. As the load cell stretches, it measures the resulting force.

It is customary practice for most labs to use tension and compression load cells, then determine its specific tension use case based on the requirements of a test project or product design. Tension and compression load cells are easily used for tension only but will measure both. Load cells can be calibrated in either tension or compression, and both tension and compression. The combined is more economical for test labs and most use cases.

Benefits of Tension Load Cells

Load cells that measure tension are preferred over other types of load cells when the force being measured is tensile in nature. They are accurate, reliable, and can be calibrated to suit different applications and environments. Additionally, they are easy to use and require minimal maintenance.

Accurate measurement of tensile forces: Tension-only load cells are specifically designed to measure tensile forces accurately, without being influenced by compressive or bending forces. This makes them ideal for applications where the force being measured is purely tensile, such as in the testing of cables, wires, ropes, or chains used in lifting applications and equipment. Interface Tension Links are preferred from some of the lifting and weighing use cases.

High sensitivity and resolution: Tension-only load cells typically have high sensitivity and resolution, meaning they can detect slight changes in the applied force. This makes them useful in applications where precise measurements are required, such as in the testing of materials with low tensile strength.

Easy installation: Tension-only load cells are typically easy to install and use, requiring minimal setup time and equipment. They are often designed with attachment points or hooks for attaching to the load being measured, which makes them convenient for use in the field or in a testing lab.

Durability and reliability: Tension-only load cells are often constructed from durable materials, such as stainless steel, which makes them resistant to corrosion and wear over time. They are also designed to provide reliable and consistent measurements, ensuring accuracy and consistency in test results.

Tension Load Cell Applications

Tension load cells are standard and their versatility in application use makes them popular in test and measurement. Tension load cells are used for test and measurement industry applications including in manufacturing, automotive, energy, aerospace, and infrastructure. For example, the transportation sector uses load cells to measure the tension in cables, wires, ropes, and chains. They are used in a diverse range of testing equipment to measure the strength and durability of materials. They are designed to provide accurate and reliable measurements of tensile loads and can be calibrated to suit different applications and environments.

Tension load cells are commonly used in applications for material testing to evaluate the tensile strength and elasticity of varied materials, such as metals, plastics, and composites. Tension testing is a valuable tool in materials science and engineering, as it provides valuable information about the tensile properties of a material. Some examples of tension testing include:

  • Determining the strength of a material: Tension testing provides a way to measure the maximum load a material can withstand before it breaks or fails. This information is crucial in determining the strength of a material and its suitability for different applications.
  • Understanding the ductility of a material: Tension testing can also be used to measure the amount of deformation a material can undergo before it breaks. This information is important in determining the ductility of a material and its ability to withstand bending and stretching without breaking.
  • Identifying defects or weaknesses in a material: Tension testing can help identify defects or weaknesses in a material that may cause it to fail under stress. By subjecting a material to increasing levels of tension, engineers can pinpoint the point at which the material fails and investigate the cause of the failure.
  • Comparing the properties of varied materials: Tension testing can also be used to compare the tensile properties of different materials. This information is useful in selecting the best material for a specific application and designing structures that can withstand the required loads.

Tensile Testing For 3D Materials

A customer wants to conduct a tensile force test on different 3D printing materials until failure. These different 3D printing materials being tested included PLA, PETG and ASA to see how it performed. The customer wanted to test the materials quality, strength, ductility, and stiffness. Interface recommended using our 1200 Standard Precision LowProfile™ Load Cell be installed into the customer’s test frame. The tensile test is conducted, and force results captured by the load cell are synced through the INF-USB3 Universal Serial Bus Single Channel PC Interface Module. These results can be displayed on the customer’s computer with supplied software.

Tension load cells are used in structural testing to measure the tension in structures used in construction, aerospace, maritime, and infrastructure. For example, tension load cells are commonly used for bridges, buildings, and towers, to ensure they can withstand the forces in their design and application.

Tension load cells are often used within manufacturing machines and equipment for monitoring and real-time force measurement. For example, in a facility they are used to measure the tension in cables or wires during production, to ensure they meet the required specifications and are safe for use.

Research and development for all types of applications need to assess the tensile properties of new materials or structures, to assess their suitability for different applications, from medical devices to product simulations.

If your next project needs an accurate tension load cell, contact our application experts to see which model best fits your exact requirements.


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