FlexiForce User Manual

FlexiForce User Manual
FlexiForce Sensors
£
User Manual
09/23/05
Flexiforce Sensor User Manual (RevF)
Table Of Contents
INTRODUCTION......................................................................................................................... 3
GETTING ASSISTANCE .................................................................................................................. 3
OVERVIEW.................................................................................................................................. 4
SENSORS ...................................................................................................................................... 4
APPLICATION ............................................................................................................................... 5
SENSOR LOADING CONSIDERATIONS ............................................................................... 6
SENSOR LOADING ........................................................................................................................ 6
SATURATION ................................................................................................................................ 6
CONDITIONING SENSORS.............................................................................................................. 7
CALIBRATION............................................................................................................................ 8
CALIBRATION GUIDELINES .......................................................................................................... 8
SENSOR PERFORMANCE CHARACTERISTICS ................................................................ 9
REPEATABILITY ........................................................................................................................... 9
LINEARITY ................................................................................................................................... 9
HYSTERESIS ................................................................................................................................. 9
DRIFT ........................................................................................................................................... 9
TEMPERATURE SENSITIVITY ........................................................................................................ 9
SENSOR LIFE / DURABILITY ....................................................................................................... 10
SENSOR PROPERTIES .................................................................................................................. 10
MODEL A201.............................................................................................................................. 10
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INTRODUCTION
This manual describes how to use Tekscan's FlexiForce Sensors. These sensors are ideal for
designers, researchers, or anyone who needs to measure forces without disturbing the dynamics
of their tests. The FlexiForce sensors can be used to measure both static and dynamic forces (up
to 1000 lbf.), and are thin enough to enable non-intrusive measurement.
The FlexiForce sensors use a resistive-based technology. The application of a force to the active
sensing area of the sensor results in a change in the resistance of the sensing element in inverse
proportion to the force applied.
GETTING ASSISTANCE
Tekscan, Inc. will provide technical assistance for any difficulties you may experience using
your FlexiForce system.
Write, call or fax us with any concerns or questions. Our knowledgeable support staff will be
happy to help you. Comments and suggestions are always welcome.
FlexiForce
a division of Tekscan, Inc.
307 West First Street
South Boston, MA 02127-1309
Phone: (617) 464-4500
Fax: (617) 464-4266
E-mail: [email protected]
Copyright © 2004 by Tekscan, Incorporated. All rights reserved. No part of this publication
may be reproduced, transmitted, transcribed, stored in a retrieval system, or translated into any
language or computer language, in any form or by any means without the prior written
permission of Tekscan, Inc., 307 West First Street, South Boston, MA 02127-1309.
Tekscan, Inc. makes no representation or warranties with respect to this manual. Further,
Tekscan, Inc. reserves the right to make changes in the specifications of the product described
within this manual at any time without notice and without obligation to notify any person of such
revision or changes.
FlexiForce is a registered trademarks of Tekscan, Inc.
Windows 95/98/ME/2000/XP, MS-DOS, Word, Notepad, and Excel are registered trademarks of
Microsoft Corporation.
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OVERVIEW
This section outlines Sensor Construction and Application.
SENSORS
The FlexiForce sensor is an ultra-thin and flexible printed circuit, which can be easily integrated
into most applications. With its paper-thin construction, flexibility and force measurement
ability, the FlexiForce force sensor can measure force between almost any two surfaces and is
durable enough to stand up to most environments. FlexiForce has better force sensing
properties, linearity, hysteresis, drift, and temperature sensitivity than any other thin-film force
sensors. The "active sensing area" is a 0.375” diameter circle at the end of the sensor.
The A201 sensor is available in the following force ranges:
Sensor A201-1 (0-1 lb. force range)
Sensor A201-25 (0-25 lb. force range)
Sensor A201-100 (0-100 lb. force range)*
x
x
x
* In order to measure forces above 100 lbs. (up to 1000 lbs), apply a lower drive voltage and
reduce the resistance of the feedback resistor (1k: min.). See the sample drive circuit below.
The sensors are constructed of two layers of substrate. This substrate is composed of polyester
film. On each layer, a conductive material (silver) is applied, followed by a layer of pressuresensitive ink. Adhesive is then used to laminate the two layers of substrate together to form the
sensor. The silver circle on top of the pressure-sensitive ink defines the “active sensing area.”
Silver extends from the sensing area to the connectors at the other end of the sensor, forming the
conductive leads.
FlexiForce sensors are terminated with a solderable male square pin ҏconnector, which allows
them to be incorporated into a circuit. The two outer pins of the connector are active and the
center pin is inactive. The length of the sensors can be trimmed by Tekscan to predefined lengths
of 2”, 4” and 6” or can be trimmed by the customer. If the customer trims the sensor, a new
connector must be attached. This can be accomplished by purchasing staked pin connectors and a
crimping tool. A conductive epoxy can also be used to adhere small wires to each conductor.
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The sensor acts as a variable resistor in an electrical circuit. When the sensor is unloaded, its
resistance is very high (greater than 5 Meg-ohm); when a force is applied to the sensor, the
resistance decreases. Connecting an ohmmeter to the outer two pins of the sensor connector and
applying a force to the sensing area can read the change in resistance.
Sensors should be stored at temperatures in the range of 15°F (-9°C) to 165°F (74°C)
APPLICATION
There are many ways to integrate the FlexiForce sensor into an application. One way is to
incorporate it into a force-to-voltage circuit. A means of calibration must then be established to
convert the output into the appropriate engineering units. Depending on the setup, an adjustment
could then be done to increase or decrease the sensitivity of the sensor.
An example circuit is shown below. In this case, it is driven by a -5 V DC excitation voltage.
This circuit uses an inverting operational amplifier arrangement to produce an analog output
based on the sensor resistance and a fixed reference resistance (RF). An analog-to-digital
converter can be used to change this voltage to a digital output. In this circuit, the sensitivity of
the sensor could be adjusted by changing the reference resistance (RF); a lower reference
resistance will make the sensor less sensitive, and increase its active force range.
In the circuit shown, the dynamic force range of the sensor can be adjusted by
changing the reference resistor (RF) or by changing the Drive Voltage (VO). Refer to
the Saturation section for additional information.
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SENSOR LOADING CONSIDERATIONS
The following general sensor loading guidelines can be applied to most applications, and will
help you achieve the most accurate results from your tests. It is important that you read the
Sensor Performance Characteristics section for further information on how to get the most
accurate results from your sensor readings.
SENSOR LOADING
The entire sensing area of the FlexiForce sensor is treated as a single contact point. For this
reason, the applied load should be distributed evenly across the sensing area to ensure accurate
and repeatable force readings. Readings may vary slightly if the load distribution changes over
the sensing area.
Note that the sensing area is the silver circle on the top of the sensor only.
It is also important that the sensor be loaded consistently, or in the same way each time.
If the footprint of the applied load is smaller than the sensing area, the load should not be placed
near the edges of the sensing area, to ensure an even load distribution.
It is also important to ensure that the sensing area is the entire load path, and that the
load is not supported by the area outside of the sensing area.
If the footprint of the applied load is larger than the sensing area, it may be necessary to use a
"puck." A puck is a piece of rigid material (smaller than the sensing area) that is placed on the
sensing area to ensure that the entire load path goes through this area. The puck must not touch
any of the edges of the sensing area, or these edges may support some of the load and give an
erroneous reading.
The FlexiForce sensor reads forces that are perpendicular to the sensor plane. Applications that
impart "shear" forces could reduce the life of the sensor. If the application will place a "shear"
force on the sensor, it should be protected by covering it with a more resilient material.
If it is necessary to mount the sensor to a surface, it is recommended that you use tape, when
possible. Adhesives may also be used, but make sure that the adhesive will not degrade the
substrate (polyester) material of the sensor before using it in an application. Adhesives should
not be applied to the sensing area; however, if it is necessary, ensure that the adhesive is spread
evenly. Otherwise, any high spots may appear as load on the sensor.
SATURATION
The Saturation force is the point at which the device output no longer varies with applied force.
The saturation force of each sensor is based on the maximum recommended force specified by
Tekscan, which is printed on the system packaging or the actual sensor, along with the
"Sensitivity."
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The saturation value is based on using the circuit and the values shown in the example circuit in
the ‘Application’ section. In this example, the saturation force (maximum force) of each sensor is
related to the RF (reference resistance), and can be altered by changing the sensitivity. The
sensitivity of the sensor would be adjusted by changing the reference resistance (RF); a lower
reference resistance will make the system less sensitive, and increase its active force range.
It is essential that the sensor(s) do not become saturated during testing.
CONDITIONING SENSORS
Exercising, or Conditioning a sensor before calibration and testing is essential in achieving
accurate results. It helps to lessen the effects of drift and hysteresis. Conditioning is required for
new sensors, and for sensors that have not been used for a length of time.
To condition a sensor, place 110% of the test weight on the sensor, allow the sensor to stabilize,
and then remove the weight. Repeat this process four or five times. The interface between the
sensor and the test subject material should be the same during conditioning as during calibration
and actual testing.
IMPORTANT! Sensors must be properly conditioned prior to calibration and use.
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CALIBRATION
Calibration is the method by which the sensor’s electrical output is related to an actual
engineering unit, such as pounds or Newtons. To calibrate, apply a known force to the sensor,
and equate the sensor resistance output to this force. Repeat this step with a number of known
forces that approximate the load range to be used in testing. Plot Force versus Conductance
(1/R). A linear interpolation can then be done between zero load and the known calibration
loads, to determine the actual force range that matches the sensor output range.
Resistance Curve:
Conductance Curve:
CALIBRATION GUIDELINES
The following guidelines should be considered when calibrating a sensor:
x
Apply a calibration load that approximates the load to be applied during system use,
using dead weights or a testing device (such as an MTS or Instron). If you intend to use a
"puck" during testing, also use it when calibrating the sensor. See Sensor Loading
Considerations for more information on using a puck.
x
Avoid loading the sensor to near saturation when calibrating. If the sensor saturates at a
lower load than desired, adjust the "Sensitivity."
x
Distribute the applied load evenly across the sensing area to ensure accurate force
readings. Readings may vary slightly if the load distribution changes over the sensing
area.
Note: Read the Sensor Performance Characteristics section before performing a
Calibration.
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SENSOR PERFORMANCE CHARACTERISTICS
There are a number of characteristics of sensors, which can affect your results. This section
contains a description of each of these conditions, and recommendations on how to lessen their
effects.
REPEATABILITY
Repeatability is the ability of the sensor to respond in the same way to a repeatedly applied
force. As with most measurement devices, it is customary to exercise, or "condition" a sensor
before calibrating it or using it for measurement. This is done to reduce the amount of change in
the sensor response due to repeated loading and unloading. A sensor is conditioned by loading it
to 110% of the test weight four or five times. Follow the full procedure in the Conditioning
Sensors section.
LINEARITY
Linearity refers to the sensor’s response (digital output) to the applied load, over the range of
the sensor. This response should ideally be linear; and any non-linearity of the sensor is the
amount that its output deviates from this line.
HYSTERESIS
Hysteresis is the difference in the sensor output response during loading and unloading, at the
same force. For static forces, and applications in which force is only increased, and not
decreased, the effects of hysteresis are minimal. If an application includes load decreases, as well
as increases, there may be error introduced by hysteresis that is not accounted for by calibration.
DRIFT
Drift is the change in sensor output when a constant force is applied over a period of time. If the
sensor is kept under a constant load, the resistance of the sensor will continually decrease, and
the output will gradually increase. It is important to take drift into account when calibrating the
sensor, so that its effects can be minimized. The simplest way to accomplish this is to perform
the sensor calibration in a time frame similar to that which will be used in the application.
TEMPERATURE SENSITIVITY
In general, your results will vary if you combine high loads on the sensor with high temperatures.
To ensure accuracy, calibrate the sensor at the temperature at which it will be used in the
application. If the sensor is being used at different temperatures, perform a calibration at each of
these temperatures, save the calibration files, then load the appropriate calibration file when
using the sensor at that temperature.
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SENSOR LIFE / DURABILITY
Sensor life depends on the application in which it is used. Sensors are reusable, unless used in
applications in which they are subjected to severe conditions, such as against sharp edges, or
shear forces. FlexiForce sensors have been successfully tested at over one million load cycles
using a 50 lb. force.
Rough handling of a sensor will also shorten its useful life. For example, a sensor that is
repeatedly installed in a flanged joint will have a shorter life than a sensor installed in the same
joint once and used to monitor loads over a prolonged period. After each installation, visually
inspect your sensors for physical damage.
It is also important to keep the sensing area of the sensor clean. Any deposits on this area will
create uneven loading, and will cause saturation to occur at lower applied forces.
Sensor Properties
Operating Range
15°F (-9°C) to 140°F (60°C)
Linearity (Error)
<+/- 5%
Repeatability
Hysteresis
Drift
Temperature Sensitivity
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Model A201
<+/- 2.5% of full scale
(conditioned sensor, 80%
force applied)
<4.5% of full scale
(conditioned sensor, 80%
force applied)
<3% per logarithmic time
scale (constant load of 90%
sensor rating)
Output variance up to 0.2%
per degree F (approximately
0.36% per degree C). For
loads >10 lbs., operating
temperature can be
increased to 165°F (74°C).
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