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Inscale's Guide to Force Gauges

What is a force gauge?

Instruments used to measure force are known as force gauges and are usually small measuring devices with either digital or mechanically operated systems. Generally, a force is defined as being ‘something that changes the motion of an object’, whether that be to push, pull or even break.

As you might imagine, in today’s world there is an almost endless limit to the uses of a force gauge. From sports, safety testing or engineering, many industries can benefit from knowing information such as an object’s breaking point; the elasticity of a material; or even just the force needed to open something. This post is designed to give you a complete insight into these diverse tools which are now such an essential part of so many industries.

Inscale stocks a wide selection of digital and mechanical force gauges - view our full range here.

How to measure force

Firstly, it’s often quite common for people to confuse mass and force, but the two are very different indeed. Mass is a measurement of the amount of matter an object contains and is measured in either imperial (pounds, ounces, stone etc.) or metric (grams, kilograms, tonne etc.) systems. Alternatively, force is generally measured in Newtons, with one Newton being defined as being the force taken to accelerate one kilogram of mass at the rate one meter per second squared.

But how do force gauges work? Well, a mechanical system works quite simply by using a spring to alter a display, but it’s digital where things start to get a lot more technical. Simply put, a digital force gauge contains something known as a load cell (or force sensor). This load cell is like a spring which, when pressure is applied, flexes to allow strain gauges to measure the strain. The strain gauge then gives out an output voltage which can be converted into a reading for you to see on the display. Hey presto – you now have your force measurement.

How to use a force gauge

These instruments are generally simple to use and can be operated either handheld or with the aid of a force gauge test stand. Most force gauges can be used with a range of attachments such as hooks, clamps or rolling clamps – each with their own specific uses. Such attachments can be easily removed and added by simply screwing them in place. Depending on the model, your force meter might also have features such as peak hold or statistical analysis, which ultimately make it easier to view desired results.

What are the uses for a force gauge?

Testing the breaking point of safety rope

Knowing the force required to break or snap something is an important testing procedure for a myriad of items, perhaps none more important than a safety rope however. This information is crucial in order for the ropes to carry out their safety functions reliably and consistently in order to protect a person’s life. The process of using force to determine the breaking point of a product is known as a tensile test. Quite simply, the rope is fixed at either end to a clamp and pulled apart until it breaks. This test allows us to see both the breaking point of the rope, along with the length of elongation from the start and end of the test. Safety ropes are perhaps the first thing you would think of for this test, but it is necessary for safety harnesses, car seat belts and conveyor belts.

Testing car door closure

Perhaps something that you hadn’t even thought of, the force needed for a car door to close is hugely important information for all car manufacturers out there. When closing a car door, you must know the force necessary to begin the movement, as well as the force that is needed to achieve a complete closure. A series of ropes and pulleys are usually attached within the car and the various tests can be carried out.

Tensile testing adhesives

Adhesion testing is of course associated with adhesives (glues), but also products such as tapes, plasters and sealants. Like a safety rope, the tensile test can also be used to determine the point at which the adhesive begins to fail. Usually, this is as basic as gluing an item down and measuring the force needed to pull it free. Alternatively, a shear test can also be carried out to determine the strength of an adhesive. This works by having two or more panels joined together and then pulling them apart until they release from each other. The number of panels used depends on what kind of joint is used, ie. Single lap, double lap, single cover plate or double cover plate.

More uses for force gauges

As well as the items and materials listed above, there are countless more uses for force gauges across various industries. A handful of other uses to consider would be:

  • The force needed to open a fizzy drink can.
  • The testing of springs.
  • The force needed to press a button on a keyboard.
  • Testing the hardness of items such as lip balms or pills.
  • The maximum force capacity of screws.

Recommended force gauges

Inscale stock a range of force gauges from trusted German brand Sauter. They have over 170 years of experience in weighing equipment and produce handheld and simple to operate force gauges perfect for lab work, classrooms and safety testing.

FA Mechanical Force Gauge

A low cost and robust mechanically operated force gauge that is easy to use, making it perfect for an educational environment. Multiple capacities are available depending on your needs, ranging from 10-500 Newtons. The device features a real time or peak hold switch enabling you to observe transients or view the maximum force exerted via a drag indicator.

FH-M Digital Force Gauge

The FH-M is a premium level force gauge manufactured by Sauter, including features such as peak hold, real time and statistical analysis. The range of capacities stretch from 1000-100,000 Newtons with an accuracy equal to 0.5% of the capacity. These instruments are fully compatible with Sauter’s manual test stands which are available on The Measurement Shop website.

FC Compact Digital Force Gauge

For a product that puts ease-of-use firmly at the top of the priorities list, the FC Compact Digital is the force gauge for you. Featuring a simple backlit display that’s visible in all light conditions, this product is comfortable to hold and ideal for a laboratory environment. One handy detail of the FC Compact is its ability to store 1000 readings on an internal memory, which can then be downloaded to a PC or printed via RS-232 connection to a mini printer. The Sauter FC Compact is one of our best selling force gauges!

For any further information about choosing the right force gauge for you, please contact our team via telephone on 01908 972 660 or Get In Touch.

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