Understanding force gauge calibration procedure

Force gauges are used to test products and ensure specifications and quality are maintained. Force gauge calibration ensures your equipment is accurate, minimising operational downtime and product returns. In this article, you will learn why regularly calibrating your force gauges is essential and how to keep your instrument in optimal functioning condition.

What is force and how is it measured?

Force is defined as a push or pull exerted on an object and is measured in Newtons. One Newton is quantified as the force required to apply an acceleration of 1m/s/s (metres per second per second) to an object with a mass of 1kg.

Force itself can take a number of forms; pushing (compression), pulling (tension), twisting (torsion) or turning (torque) are all different ways in which a force can be applied. Frictional, gravitational, magnetic and electrical forces are further examples.

Regardless of its nature, if a force is capable of exerting an influence, it is important that it can be observed accurately. As force can be expressed in many ways, the variety of test equipment required to measure it is equally diverse. However, the term “force gauge” is typically used to describe apparatus used to measure mechanical forces, with tension and compression force testing being especially prevalent.

Why is force gauge calibration important?

Force gauges are used throughout design, manufacture and testing stages in virtually every industry. They form part of your essential mechanical test equipment list. If a product has a carrying handle, that handle will have had its tensile strength defined and tested. Where an item is individually wrapped, the shear force required to tear open the packaging will be identified, incorporated in the design, and verified as part of the QA process.

If the task requires the use of a force gauge, it is important that the data obtained is accurate. As with all calibrated equipment, force gauges are subject to measurement drift, where their accuracy will inevitably degrade with time and use. Stresses and strains incurred during the measurement process can find their way into the structure of the instrument, affecting the quality of the readings. Sudden shocks or impacts either in storage or in use can also have a profound negative effect on how accurately the device can measure force.

Having a specialist company carry out regular force gauge calibration is vital to achieving consistently reliable test results and a high-quality end product. This is especially true if the products undergoing test extend beyond crisp packets and suitcase handles. Elevator cables, structural steelwork and climbing ropes are safety-critical items which will have been designed and quality tested using force gauges.

Depending on the nature of your business, having your force gauge calibration carried out by competent experts could very much be a case of life or death.

Force gauge calibration – a step by step guide

Although the exact procedure and calibration reference device will vary from one instrument to another, the same core process is followed in each case:

  1. Allow the instrument to acclimatise to the controlled temperature in the calibration laboratory. The environmental conditions will be recorded on the calibration certificate.
  2. Install the instrument on the calibrated test rig, the assembly. The rig and test conditions should replicate the field service conditions as closely as possible in terms of vertical or horizontal mounting, and the use of fittings such as hooks or shackles.
  3. Check the zero-reading for the instrument and adjust where necessary.
  4. Carry out the test procedure and ensure the accuracy meets or exceeds the tolerance listed by the manufacturer on all scales, ranges and functions. Where adjustments are required, the procedure should be repeated until satisfactory performance is achieved.
  5. Check the zero-reading of the instrument on completion of the test.
  6. Complete labelling, certification and any other close-out items required by the client.

Including force gauge calibration in a wider strategy

Each individual force gauge will have a calibration interval recommended by the manufacturer. However, it is very important to consider the working environment of the instrument when deciding how often it should undergo calibration.

A calibrated dynamometer fixed to a bench in a laboratory will have far less exposure to causes of drift than a portable load-cell force gauge used in a field service application. Both may have a manufacturer recommendation of 12-monthly calibration, but the nature of your business may often demand that more frequent verification is required.

Why choose DM Systems & Test to calibrate your gauges?

DM System & Test has a wealth of knowledge and experience with force gauges. We consider all aspects of the equipment, including the frequency and nature of its use when we recommend a calibration strategy. We can determine a testing schedule that delivers optimum accuracy while minimising the time that your equipment is out of service.

Engaging with a dependable calibration partner is an important component in delivering a reliable service to your own customers. DM Systems & Test is ISO-9001 accredited, and we can deliver a comprehensive range of force gauge calibration services certified to ISO/IEC-17025:2017 standard.

Achieving these certificates proves that we’re up to the task of helping you deliver your project to the highest standard, whatever it may be. Get in touch with DM Systems and  Test and tell us what force gauges you have and how you use them. We’ll come back quickly with a calibration plan that will suit your budget and your schedule.

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