Force Sensors

November 21, 2022

By Dara Trent, Technical Content Director

Force Sensors

A force sensor is a type of transducer more commonly referred to as a load cell. Force sensors/load cells convert physical stimuli such as torque, pressure, compression, or tension forces into a measurable electrical signal. The signal can be standardized through the process of calibration so that the change in electrical signal changes proportionately to the amount of force applied. Load cells can be used to measure forces ranging from just ounces to millions of pounds.

 While there are several types of load cells based on the working principle, the most common type by far is a strain gauge load cell. A strain gauge is, most simply put, a very thin wire, looped back and forth parallel to itself, attached to a foil backing. An electrical current is passed through the wire and when the shape of the strain gauge changes so does the electrical resistance. In a strain gauge load cell, the strain gauges are attached to a minimally flexible metal body of the load cell. As weight is applied to the load cell, the body of the cell, also called the “spring element”, is slightly deformed. Consequently, the attached strain gauges also change shape causing the electrical resistance to be altered. Attaching four strain gauges to the cell and arranged in a Wheatstone bridge formation enables even the smallest change in resistance to be measured accurately. The load cell output is measured in mV/V and the force applied to the load cell can be determined from that output.

Load Cells and other force sensors are manufactured in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and capacities making them suitable for use in countless applications. Load cells are used in almost every industry from farming and agriculture to medicine and pharmaceuticals, from food packaging to aerospace, and from general manufacturing to robotics. For examples of load cell applications in varying industries, please visit our Load Cell Industry Applications page.

Load Cell Central offers a wide variety of load cells, load cell systems, and related electronics and hardware. We also provide calibration and repair services and free technical support.

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