Load Cell Calibration Basics

What is load cell calibration and why is it important? What are the best methods and instruments to use? What industry standards or best practices should I follow?

If you are new to force calibration or metrology, the information can be overwhelming. Since force calibration is mechanical in nature, there are many factors to consider.

What is load cell calibration?

Load cell calibration is the comparison of an unknown device to a device known within a certain error, with the purpose of characterizing the unknown. A load cell converts mechanical energy into electrical signals. As compressive or tensile force is exerted on a load cell, the mechanical energy is converted into equivalent electrical signals. When a meter or indicator is hooked up to a load cell, it displays the force measurement value.

Figure 1: Load cell calibration in compression (left) and tension (right)

Why is load cell calibration important?

The measurement of force is performed so frequently and routinely that we take these measurements for granted. Almost every material item is tested using some form of traceable force measurement. Manufacturers are often required to do sample testing on the products they manufacture. When measurements are not done correctly, the results can be product failure, financial loss, product recall, or loss of life.

Figure 2: Bridge failure, one of the risks associated with incorrect force measurement

Morehouse has ten blog posts, which provide a basic understanding of force calibration, the methods and instruments used, industry standards, and best practices. They provide a foundation of learning for anyone involved in force calibration and can save a lot of time for beginners. These 10 topics will help anyone in your organization familiarize themselves with calibration and the use of load cells including troubleshooting and understanding basic metrological concepts.

Force Calibration Back-to-Basics:

  1. Force Calibration and its Importance
  2. How a Transducer Measures Force
  3. Compression and Tension Force Calibration
  4. Calibration versus Verification
  5. Measurement Uncertainty
  6. Load Cell Terminology
  7. Types of Load Cells
  8. Load Cell Troubleshooting
  9. Load Cell Indicator Basics
  10. Force Measurement Glossary of Terms

We have compiled these posts into a guidance document Force Calibration Guidance for Beginners. For more advanced force calibration topics, we have a guidance document Conditions, Methods, and Systems that Impact Force Calibration, which provides advanced force calibration guidance for Technicians and Quality Managers.

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