Flexiforce Sensors User Manual

Flexiforce Sensors User Manual
FlexiForce Sensors

User Manual
02/26/04
Flexiforce Sensor User Manual (RevC)
Table Of Contents
INTRODUCTION......................................................................................................................... 3
GETTING ASSISTANCE .................................................................................................................. 3
OVERVIEW.................................................................................................................................. 4
SENSORS ...................................................................................................................................... 4
APPLICATION ............................................................................................................................... 4
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
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INTRODUCTION
This manual describes how to use Tekscan's FlexiForce Sensors. These systems 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. System hardware
includes the sensor handle and sensor. The electronics has a 9-pin R3232 (serial) connector. One
of the major advantages of this system is that it is simple to install, and requires very little
hardware.
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. Sensors are available in three
full-scale force ranges: Low (25 lbf ), Medium (150 lbf ), and High (1000 lbf ). 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 they will have to attach a connector to the sensor.
(This can be accomplished by purchasing staked pin connectors and a crimping tool. They can
also use a conductive epoxy to adhere small wires to each conductor). The "active sensing area"
is a 0.375” diameter circle at the end of the sensor. The sensors are constructed of two layers of
substrate, such as a polyester film. On each layer, a conductive material (silver) is applied,
followed by a layer of pressure-sensitive 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 connector, 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 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.
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 above. In this case, a
5 V DC excitation voltage drives it. This circuit uses an inverting operational amplifier
arrangement to produce an analog output based on the sensor resistance and a fixed reference
resistance. 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.
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* When used in the circuit shown. However, 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)
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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. If you are using the Multi-Handle ELF system, all
selected COM ports must be calibrated with at least one point before Calibration can be
completed.
To calibrate, apply a known force to the sensor, and equate the sensor output to this force. Repeat
this step with a number of known forces that approximate the load range to be used in testing. 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.
CALIBRATION GUIDELINES
The following guidelines should be considered when calibrating a sensor:
•
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.
•
Avoid loading the sensor to near saturation when calibrating. If the sensor saturates at a
lower load than desired, adjust the "Sensitivity".
•
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. FlexiForce sensors are generally
repeatable within 2.5% once they have been conditioned. 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. FlexiForce sensors are linear within +/- 5%.
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.
For a conditioned sensor, with 50% of the full force range applied, hysteresis is less than 4.5 %
of full scale.
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. In
FlexiForce sensors, drift is less than 3%/logarithmic time.
TEMPERATURE SENSITIVITY
The operating range for FlexiForce sensors is from 15°F (-9°C) to 140°F (60°C). FlexiForce
sensor output may vary up to 0.2% per degree F (approx. 0.36% per degree Celsius). In general,
your results will vary if you combine high loads on the sensor with high temperatures. For loads
of less than 10 lbs., the operating temperature can be increased to 165°F (74°C).
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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.
FlexiForce sensors should be stored at temperatures in the range of 15°F (-9°C) to 165°F
(74°C).
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.
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