Our definition of a force transducer may be a bit different than those of other sensor manufacturers. At FUTEK, we define a force transducer as a load cell intended for embedded, OEM-style applications.
Our force transducers, just like our load cells, contain a full-bridge strain gauge configuration. However, the wiring is exposed on our force transducers, requiring careful handling and precautions while mounting the sensor into your desired application. The sensors themselves are very thin, containing the full-bridge and all associated wiring on a flat plate.
We currently produce one force transducer, our FFP350. It is a flat plate with an "Archimedean" style cutout in the center which behaves much like a spring. Strain gauges attached to the plate measure the force applied on the center, in both tension and compression. Its small size makes it ideal for placing in small spaces.
What is a Force Transducer?
By definition, force sensor is a type of transducer, specifically a force transducer. It converts an input mechanical force such as load, weight, tension, compression or pressure into another physical variable, in this case, into an electrical output signal that can be measured, converted and standardized. As the force applied to the force sensor increases, the electrical signal changes proportionally.
Transducers became an essential element in many industries from Automotive, High precision manufacturing, Aerospace & Defense, Industrial Automation, Medical & Pharmaceuticals and Robotics where reliable and high precision measurement is paramount. Most recently, with the advancements in Collaborative Robots (Cobots) and Surgical Robotics, many novel force measurement applications are emerging.
How does a Force Transducer work?
Firstly, we need to understand the underlying physics and material science behind the straing force measurement working principle, which is the strain gauge (sometimes referred to as Strain gage). Metal foil strain gage is a sensor whose electrical resistance varies with applied force. In other words, it converts (or transduces) force, pressure, tension, compression, torque, weight, etc… into a change in electrical resistance, which can then be measured.
Strain gauges are electrical conductors tightly attached to a film in a zigzag shape. When this film is pulled, it — and the conductors — stretches and elongates. When it is pushed, it is contracted and gets shorter. This change in shape causes the resistance in the electrical conductors to also change. The strain applied in the load cell can be determined based on this principle, as strain gauge resistance increases with applied strain and diminishes with contraction.