When Is a Strain Gauge Used?

Strain gauges are some of the most commonly used field tools in an array of industries because they can perform a wide variety of roles. As its name suggests, a strain gauge is a sensor that’s used to measure strain—the displacement and deformation of an object.

A strain gauge’s resistance changes when force is applied, resulting in an electrical output that’s measured by an external device. With this reading, an engineer can determine the pressure, force, weight and tension on an object. These devices are small but mighty and can measure even the slightest change in strain.

Keep reading to learn why we use strain gauges and how a strain gauge gets used.

Why use a strain gauge?

We use strain gauges because they’ll trigger an alert that informs users that strain capacity has been reached, which can result in dangerous structural flaws. Accidents are bound to happen when strain is exceeded, and a strain gauge is our only line of defense in alerting us that there’s an issue.

How does a strain gauge get used?

As we touched on above, strain gauges have almost an unlimited variety of uses. These are some of the industries which use strain gauges every day:

  • Aerospace: Strain gauges are bonded directly to many load-bearing parts of airplanes, including the wings. These gauges measure the stresses on airplane wing deflection, which is the property of a plane that allows it to fly. Disasters are bound to occur if the wing deflection is off, which is where strain gauges can save the day. Ground calibrations are performed routinely on these strain gauges to ensure accurate results while the plane is in flight.
  • Bridge cables: Visual assessments can be performed on bridges to observe some types of flaws. However, these tests can miss structural problems that could result in deaths or injuries. We saw this happen in Minneapolis in 2007 when gusset plates on a bridge failed, and the bridge collapsed. Many of today’s bridges are outfitted with strain gauges that provide continuous readings of stress and strain to alert the proper authorities when the bridge is compromised.
  • Railway safety: As you can imagine, railway lines need to be in perfect condition at all times, otherwise trains can become derailed. We see strain gauges mounted directly onto each rail to measure axial tension on the train. An alert is triggered when the tension becomes too high, allowing train personnel to make the necessary repairs or adjustments.
  • Torque and power measurements: Power plants, ships, refineries and other industries use strain gauges to calculate the torque applied by a motor, turbine or engine to fans, generators, wheels and propellers. Strain gauges can help troubleshoot equipment that’s not producing enough torque or producing too much torque for some reason.

Get the best results from EMC2 Inc.

Hire our pros at EMC2 Inc. to ensure your measurements are always as accurate as possible. We only use the most advanced equipment to provide precise data in a wide array of fields. Contact us today to see what we can do for you or to learn more about using a strain gauge.