Extensive research and concise engineering have enabled FUTEK to assume total system responsibility in conceptual design and hardware fabrication. As a result, system integration manufacturers can utilize FUTEK capabilities to rapidly introduce new products to their markets.
FUTEK has organized an international network of faculty in various fields of expertise. We will assist you in your selection, as well as the design of the right product for your application whether it be a standard or customized solution.
Our standard product line includes:
In addition to our standard product line, we also design Custom Load Cells, Custom Torque Sensors, and Custom Pressure Sensors per your requirements. Over the past 20 years, we have developed Custom Load Cells, Torque Sensors and Pressure Sensors to endure rigorous environments such as: High Accuracy, High Endurance, High Temperature, High Pressure, Cryogenic, or Acidic (submersible) environments.
You will also find various industry focused Load Cells such as our collection of Automotive Load Cells and Medical Load Cells. Our facility is equipped with a full NIST Traceable Calibration Department, testing every single Load Cell, Torque sensor, Force Sensor or Pressure Sensor we build.
Load Cell Types / Load Cell Designs
Selecting the proper Load Cell for your application is a critical task as each Load Cell offers its own unique attributes. The following descriptions will help clarify the different designs or types of Load Cells available to you on our site, and essentially guide you towards selecting the right Load Cell type.
Pancake Load Cells (also known as Low profile Load Cells or Universal Load Cells)
Pancake Load Cells are commonly used in applications that require high precision, while being less sensitive to load condition. For most capacities, the Pancake Load Cell is normally designed with multiple shear struts. For lower capacities, it is designed with bending beams. If properly designed and manufactured, the nature of its structure is less sensitive to extraneous load and moments (especially torque) compared to other inline sensors such as the S Beam Load Cell, diaphragm or column type. This type of Load Cell is normally used in press in compression for controlling the applied load or pressure during the test or production.
Pancake Load Cells normally provide a female thread thru the center and multiple thru holes on outer ring for mounting. Stationing the outside mounting holes will allow this Pancake Load Cell to be used in tension measurements as well. Also by adding the tension base plate option users can utilize it in-line in both tension and compression, just like the S Beam Load Cell. Capacities ranges vary depending on the manufacturer, but Pancake Load Cells are generally offered from 50 lbs to 1 million lbs. Standard features typically include metric thread and quick disconnect. Fatigue-Rated Pancake Load Cells are also available and widely used in endurance testing applications. Submersible versions are also available with integrated cables. Some manufacturers also offer built-in amplifiers with VDC/4-20mA or with TEDS per IEEE1451.4 option for plug and play.
S Beam Load Cells (also known as the Z Beam Load Cell)
The S Beam Load Cell, is one of the most popular types of Load Cells. It was originally designed for inline applications to convert the mechanical scale to digital by replacing the spring and other in-line hardware. The S Beam Load Cell is available in a variety of load ranges with both English and Metric threads. It is very popular due to its high precision, low price, and ease of installation. But since S Beam Load Cells are strictly designed for in-line applications, they are very sensitive to extraneous load, torque, and moments. Off center loading must be avoided for the best performance and longer service life. Typical features of the S Beam Load Cell include an integrated cable or quick disconnect receptacle. S Beam Load Cells also come in full hermetically sealed versions and submersible types. In recent years, miniature versions of the S Beam Load Cell known as S Beam Load Cell Junior have also been designed and manufactured. The S Beam Load Cell Jr. (Miniature S Beam Load Cell) comes with an effective built-in mechanical stop for overload protection in both Tension and Compression, and is available from 10 grams full scale to 100 lbs. This innovative model comes in package sizes smaller than a quarter coin and is widely used in bag hanging medical applications during the dialysis process, as well as other automated applications in which small package size is essential.
Load Button Load Cells
Load button Load Cells are designed for compression and known for their small package size. They are used in tight and limited spaces. Generally, Load Button Load Cells are designed with diaphragm construction. Some higher precision Load Buttons are designed with bending beams for low capacities, while others are designed with shears or columns for higher capacities. To receive the best performance, the load should be applied without the presence of any side load or torque. Mounting could be a challenge with the standard Load Button Load Cell. To overcome this challenge, some models are available with mounting provision on the base. The ones without mounting provisions are normally retained by an outside wall or sandwiched between the assemblies. Some versions are also available with a threaded stud in the center for probe style loading. Load button Load Cells are available in various capacities ranging from 1lb to 100,000 lbs, and in package sizes ranging from ¼” (6mm) to 3” (76mm) OD. Load Button Load Cells are widely used in Medical applications, as well as automation applications, where small size is a must and space is limited. If space is not an issue and higher precision is required, then use a pancake style Load Cell.
Single Point Load Cell (also known as Side Mount Load Cells, Parallelogram Sensors or Belt Buckle Sensors)
Single Point Load Cells are usually designed for processing applications, which require weight control platforms (usually on a small-scale). They are given their name because they can be used for these platform applications supporting off center loading by utilizing only one sensor. The advantage of this particular Load Cell design is that it is low profile, has high precision, and can be adjusted for off center loading. This particular Load Cell is generally easy to mount. Other products for similar applications such as Load Buttons are not as easy to mount. This Load Cell is also designed for high volume OEM applications and offered in a wide range of capacities from Gram ranges to 500 lbs in the same form fit function.
FUTEK’s particular line of Single Point Load Cells is more compact compared to the same product by other manufacturers. It averages the dimension of 2 x 0.5 x 2 inches compared to 4x1x3 inches. It also offers overload protection making it suitable for both process control and material testing applications, since overload usually occurs during installation. Due to its size and precision it has widely been used in Handheld or portable equipment, as well as many material-testing machines. Other popular applications are in-line food processing, material process control, or batching systems.
Also due to its compact size, high precision and long Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF of very well over 100 million cycles) have made this load cell an ideal choice for many medical applications such as automated blood management system, dialysis and bag hanging applications for drug delivery.
How to select a Load Cell Sensor / Transducer
Check out our Load Cell Types page for more information.
Selecting a sensor is a difficult task. No one sensor can fit all user applications. The challenge with selecting a sensor is that multiple variables play into the choosing process. When making a decision, the user must take into account the many components of a sensor, like a sensor’s compatible instrumentation, installation, and even lead-time. If a standard product doesn’t suit your application needs, perhaps customizing a product is a more beneficial choice. The bottom-line is that working results comes from working instruments. Thus, it is best to choose the most appropriate sensor per application.
To limit your challenges when choosing a sensor, it is best to understand your application and define the requirements that are pivotal for it to be successful. These requirements may include the type of measurement needed, the type of output needed, the necessary displays needed, and quantity of sensors needed.
Note that there are specific differences between pressure sensors, force sensors, torque sensors, and load cell. Take a look at some of the key characteristics of each of these, and they see which work compatibly with your needs.