Small Force Measurement: Understanding the Challenges and Solutions

February 7, 2023

Small Force Measurement: Understanding the Challenges and Solutions when Measuring Small Forces

Measuring small forces accurately can be a significant challenge for calibration laboratories, researchers, and engineers.

Small force measurement is crucial for many applications, such as testing materials, monitoring biomedical devices, and studying the behavior of cells and molecules. In this blog, we'll explore the challenges of measuring small forces and the solutions that are available to address them.

Challenges of Measuring Small Forces

  1. Sensitivity:  Measuring Small Forces requires high sensitivity instruments that are capable of detecting very small changes in force. However, these instruments can also be affected by environmental factors, such as temperature and vibrations, which can result in measurement errors.
  2. Dynamic range: The dynamic range of a measuring instrument refers to the range of forces that can be measured accurately.
  3. Signal-to-noise ratio: The signal-to-noise ratio refers to the ratio of the desired signal to the unwanted noise that is present in the measurement. Measuring small forces often requires a high signal-to-noise ratio, but this can be difficult to achieve with traditional instruments.
  4. Controlling the forces: Having a control system to control the force so as not to overload the force measuring device.

Solutions for Measuring Small Forces

  1. Nanotechnology-based instruments: Nanotechnology-based instruments, such as atomic force microscopes (AFMs) and nanoindenters, are designed specifically for measuring small forces. These instruments use a fine probe to apply a force to the sample and measure the resulting deformation.
  2. Piezoelectric sensors: Piezoelectric sensors use the piezoelectric effect to convert mechanical strain into electrical signals. They are highly sensitive and can be used to measure very small forces.
  3. Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS): MEMS are small mechanical devices that can be integrated into electronic systems. They are capable of measuring small forces and are often used in microscale applications.
  4. Force Transducers such as Morehouse Miniature S-Type Load Cells are capable of measuring small force from 0.1 lbf through 50 lbf. These Miniature S-Type load cells offer overload protection of 10x on capacities up to 10 lbf, and 1.5 x protection on other capacities.

More on small force measurement with Morehouse miniature S-type load cells

Morehouse miniature s-type load cells from 1 lbf to 50 lbf are critical when a small-size load cell with high accuracy and low measurement risk is needed.

Based on measured performance, the miniature s-type load cell represents the gold standard for miniature S-type load cells with the industry’s lowest range of use, obtaining ASTM E74 Class A verified range of forces from 5 % of capacity.

These compression and tension-type miniature s-type load cells are often the choice for companies that want the lowest possible uncertainties at an affordable price. The Morehouse miniature s-type load cells cost significantly less than other manufacturers selling similar products.

The lower uncertainties allow for shorter setup times, less frequent standard changes, and fewer standards to maintain.

The Morehouse miniature s-type load cell are suitable for the following uses:

  • Field use where space is at a minimum
  • Environments that require durable construction, such as force measurement and robotics
  • ASTM E74 performance: Lower Limit Factor (LLF) better than 0.0125%, Class A better than 5 % of capacity using ascending calibration data.
  • Calibration of small force equipment
  • Applications requiring small forces with extremely high overload protection (10x up to 10 lbf capacities, 1.5x on 20 lbf + capacities)
  • Direct reading applications where an accuracy of better than 0.1 % is required.

If Morehouse S-beam Miniature Load Cells do not meet your needs, chances are we have something that will. Morehouse offers multiple load cell options, most of which can be readily customized to meet customers’ unique requirements.

Measuring Small Forces with Minature S-Type Load Cell

Small Force Measurement Conclusion

Measuring small forces accurately can be a significant challenge, but advances in technology have provided solutions that make it possible. Whether you're working in a laboratory, an industrial setting, or in the field, understanding the challenges and solutions of small force measurement is essential for achieving accurate and reliable results. Morehouse S-Type load cells can provide a solution to accurately measuring force from 0.1 lbf through 50 lbf.

Our knowledgeable team at Morehouse continues to work with everyone, clarifying complex topics and providing tools such as free guidance documents, Excel™ sheets, and products to help you make better force measurements. Our mission is to ensure quality personnel have the resources to make the right decisions about the load cell they purchase.

If you enjoyed this article, check out our LinkedIn and YouTube channel for more helpful posts and videos.

We have been in business for over a century and focus on being the most recognized name in the force calibration business.

Everything we do and provide is designed to change how people think about force and torque calibration. We challenge the "just calibrate it", or, even worse, “just sticker it” mentality by educating our customers on what’s important and why it matters, what causes significant errors, and how to focus on reducing them.

In addition, Morehouse makes simple-to-use force calibration products, building excellent force equipment with the key tenets of plumb, level, square, rigid, and torsion-free frames.

If you have more questions about Small force measurement, other force measurement specifications, calibration, need adapters, load cells, or other questions, don't hesitate to get in touch with us @ 717-843-0081 to talk to a live person or email

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