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Specialized Load Cell Design

January 9, 2020

Dynamic Structures and Materials (DSM) has extensive experience in the areas required for load cell design, including compliant mechanisms, piezoelectric materials, transducer integration, and signal conditioning. If you need a load cell with high resolution or a specialized force sensor, contact DSM.

What is a "load cell"?

A sensor used to measure force is commonly called a"load cell" and there are many different types. Load cells are generally based on a structure that temporarily deforms when a load is applied. This deformation is then measured using a transducer such as a strain gauge. Some load cells use the piezoelectric effect to output charge when a force is applied. Each sensor is calibrated so that applied forces result in known changes to another parameter such as electrical resistance that can be readily measured.

What factors should you consider when specifying or selecting a load cell?

Common factors:

  • Sensitivity
  • Linearity
  • Hysteresis
  • In some applications, load cell size

Common load cell technology such as a foil strain gauge has limitations on resolution and accuracy, and instrument-grade strain gauges can be large. If high resolution or high accuracy is required, alternative technologies such as semiconductor strain gauges, piezoelectric transducers, or precision proximity sensors like capacitive probes may need to be used.

Other special considerations may dictate specialized load cell designs. In some cases, it is desirable to measure very small forces or to measure force with minimal deflection.

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