Force Measurement Systems: How to Measure Force

image of a force measurement systemWhat exactly is force? Force is a term in the field of physics that simply means an influence that exerts power or strength over an object and can change its direction or rate of movement. Some types of equipment require their components to use a certain amount of force to run properly. In these cases, you will need a device to measure the force to ensure smooth operation. Industrial applications such as mechanics, logistics, and manufacturing use measurements of force daily. If you want to measure force in any application, you will want to use some type of force measurement system.

Force Measurement Systems

A force measurement system is uses a transducer, which is a device that is put under physical stimulus and then translates that into a measurable quantity through a known formula. The transducer works in tandem with other instrumentation that will display the output of the transducer, usually some form of dial gauge or digital computer readout. The gauge or readout will indicate the output of the object in units of force or possibly in other units such as volts or metric tons.

There is more than one type of machine to measure force. All use the same relationship principle and formulas regarding force but go about different mechanics to measure.  Two common types are briefly discussed below:

Strain Gauge Load Cells
This type is one of the most commonly used types of force measurement system and is defined as an elastic device. This simply means that there is
usually some type of elastic element that has force applied to it and the resulting amount of deformation is translated into measurements of force. Strain Gauge Load Cells are the most common type of these force measurement systems. The shape and material of the element that is used in this type of device can vary based on several factors. The types of gauges used also can vary based upon the application of the device being used. A foil strain gauge is the most often used due to its usefulness in high precision applications.

Hydraulic Load Cells
This is a device that employs the use of a liquid, inside a pressurized cylinder. When force is applied to the loading element, it forces the liquid to compress ,and a transducer records the change in fluid pressure, which translates into units of force.

Applications of Force Measurement Systems

There are many uses for these systems across a wide range of industries. It is near impossible to cover all of the industries or specific applications where force measurement systems are used. Some more commonly known industries are:

Printing:  On bindery machines used to cut large reams of paper and presses, to measure how much pressure is applied to the printing substrates.

Aerospace: Used to measure the thrust of gas turbine engines

Telecommunications: Used to measure tension when laying various fiber optic cables and other cables responsible for transmitting data and voice.

Force Measurement Systems: Do’s and Don’ts

There are many important guidelines for using force measurement systems that will ensure accurate readings and prevent damage. Some of the basics are covered here but feel free to contact us with further questions or guidance.


Always make sure your system’s rated capacity is at least equal to and if possible, greater than the force you plan to apply.

-Do consider that static capacity and dynamic capacity are two different things. Static is the amount of force the system can sustain that is not changing. Dynamic refers to force that is constantly changing or shifting.

-Always calibrate your device on a regular basis both for safety and accuracy.


Don’t push the safe capacity of your system; this is a hazard as well as a good way to wear down a machine quickly

-Never pick up a transducer by its cable as this can damage it or cause injury.

-Don’t alter a transducers cable length as it may affect accuracy as well as warranty and safety.

Looking For A Force Measurement System?

Industrial Scale Company has many options for any type of application, and our expert consultants will guide you in the right direction. Whether you need something rugged like our Dillon Model X-C  or something for high volume production such as our Starrett Twin Column Material Test unit, we are here to help. Call one of our consultants today!