Force Sensors and Force Transducers

Force sensors and transducers are an important part of manufacturing, construction, shipping, and even healthcare. They assess load in lifting gear and the loading equipment of ports and storage facilities. They are found in the scales of weighing equipment, hospital beds, and numerous other applications. Force sensors and transducers are also used to control and monitor the rollers in laminating processes and the pressing/crimping actions in machine tools.

Difference between a force sensor and force transducer

Force sensors act as calibrated springs that deform under the action of a force, and then translate that deformation into a signal. Force transducers are a type of pressure sensor with an electrical output signal. While the two types are different, many people use the terms interchangeably.

Different types of force transducers

Force sensors are classified in several ways. A common approach is to name them after their measuring principle: strain, piezoelectric, inductive, capacitive, magnetostrictive, hydraulic, or pneumatic. Another way is to group them by the type of applied force: tension (pull), compression (push), tension/compression (pull or push), bending (pull and push), shear (opposite directions), or torque (rotating).

A third way to categorize force transducers is by their sensing technology. These are the three most common types of force sensors:

  • Foil strain gauges glued to the body of the sensor. FSGs can be made in a variety of sizes and geometric shapes. They are highly accurate and can measure a very wide range of forces, from 0 ... 0.5 N to 0 ... 10,000 kN.
  • Thin-film sensors with Wheatstone bridges atomically connected (sputtered) to the measuring cell body. TF sensors are robust, stable, and very cost-effective, making them ideal for OEM and safety-related applications.
  • Hydraulic force transducers that use a combination of piston and case with various seals as sensor units. They are robust, easy to handle, and suited for machine building and equipment manufacturing applications.

Specialty force transducers

Certain applications call for specific force sensors. These are some of the most common specialty force transducers:

  • Load cells – for weighing equipment such as filling scales, packaging scales, electronic scales, and industrial scales. Load cells can be classified by geometry and type of load (single-point, s-type, pendulum, bending and shear, compression, etc.) or by measuring principle.
  • Load pins – which replace existing retention bolts to measure force in construction machinery and cranes.
  • Ring force transducers – devices with a hole in the middle for spindle presses and for screw force measurement.

How to choose a force sensor

The type of applied force (tension, compression, etc.) is the determining factor when selecting a force transducer. The final choice of sensor will depend on the desired accuracy, measuring range, and working temperature, as well as the mounting space.

WIKA’s portfolio of force measurement products includes a variety of tension and compression force transducers, shear and bending beams, ring force transducers, load pins, tension links, and strain gauge transducers. We manufacture our products in accordance with machinery directive 2006/42/EC, and offer force sensors and transducers compatible with performance level (PL) and safety integrity level (SIL). Our units also have hazardous area certifications (ATEX, IECEx, FM, CSA, UL).

Customized force sensors and services

The force specialists at WIKA USA have decades of experience helping customers choose the just-right force sensors, regardless of the application. First, our experts analyze the application and evaluate on-site measuring conditions. Then they will recommend a standard force sensor, adapt one for a particular application, or custom-engineer a force solution.

Our services do not stop after the purchase is complete. Our highly trained force technicians can also install the transducers and commission the system.

In addition, WIKA USA offers a comprehensive Strain Gauge Service for placing, attaching, calibrating, and repairing strain gauges. Since this state-of-the-art facility is based in Ohio, we are able to offer fast turnaround times – within a week or less – for our customers in North America.

WIKA’s force sensors and transducers: multiple options, one dependable provider

Whether you require a standard or customized force solution, you can rely on WIKA USA for fast delivery, high quality, and exceptional customer service. Contact us for more information.


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