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Load cells in force sensing analysis -- theory and a novel application

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4 Author(s)
Muller, I. ; Fed. Univ. of Rio Grande do Sul, Rio Grande, Brazil ; de Brito, R. ; Pereira, C.E. ; Brusamarello, V.

Load cells have long been used to sense and measure force and torque. When properly designed and used, they are very accurate and reliable sensors. Load cells are applied in several different fields, usually for weighing measurements. Among many other things, food, vehicles, and animals are weighed daily with load cells. The gripper of a robotic arm that picks up an object can be equipped with load cells in order to provide compression force feedback to the control system to prevent the object from being damaged or released too early. Also, load cells can be used to sense the compression forces during a robot's walk to provide data for the equilibrium-controlling system. In industrial machinery, rods, beams, wheels and bars are instrumented in order to check the forces exerted on them. The volume or level of a tank can be measured indirectly by means of a load cell that monitors the total weight. Lift units can also have a load's total weight measured to prevent overload. Because of such a variety of possible applications, load cells are very important. This paper describes some of the theory and practice of load cells, including their basic elements and the electronics necessary for measurement. As an application example, the development of a 3-ring spherical load cell is presented which can be used to measure compression forces on fruit during storage and transportation is presented.

Published in:

Instrumentation & Measurement Magazine, IEEE  (Volume:13 ,  Issue: 1 )