Force Testing – Single Column Force Testing under 5 kN

Force testing up to 5kN represents the largest single market segment for testing products and materials.

As more and more industries design products to be smaller and smaller while increasing performances, the need for force testers of 5kN capacity or less is on the rise. The single column tabletop tester fulfills the needs.

Value

One of the advantages of choosing a single column force tester is their affordability as they are among the lowest priced testers available for simple force testing.

Another advantage is that most companies do not require buyers to generate capital appropriations for these purchases as pricing falls below the dollar threshold required.

The single column testers fall into three categories; single column manual test stands, electromechanical testers and automated motorized testers. These models are designed to fit your budget with models starting at just a couple thousand dollars.

Size – Footprint

Compact, simple design and ease of use are among the key advantages these testers have to offer. Single column testers have a reduced footprint which requires far less space than their dual column counterparts, and are often set up on a workbench or tabletop in a production environment.

These testers can be operated by production personnel and perform tests while outputting results in just a key stroke.

Reliability

Manufacturers and end users need to reliably determine the ability of materials, products and devices to withstand a greater array of forces and conditions. Single column force testers offer an ideal solution for lower force testing of wearable technology, medical implants, electronic components, thin films, and micro mechanical assemblies.

High quality force testers are rugged enough to provide accurate test results for decades despite rough handling in production environments.

Diversity of Products and Materials

In addition, single column force testers are widely used across industries in testing packaging, paper, plastics, textiles, medical devices, pharmaceutical products, foods and beverages to assure continuing compliance with performance and reliability standards.

Different Types of Single Column Force Testers

Manual Test Stand with Force Gauge

This tester combination is the most economical solution for tests that do not require a constant speed. The force gauge may be mounted either to an adjustable or fixed arm of the tester.

The movement of the arm is either driven with a lever or hand wheel actuator. Most test equipment manufacturers will offer displacement or position measurement options mounted to the frame.

Electromechanical Test Stand with Force Gauge

The electromechanical solution integrates a motor drive with an adjustable speed. The force gauge is typically mounted to the motor-driven arm. Adjustable mechanical limit switches allow the user to set the upper and lower travel areas.

This also prevents accidental collision into grips and fixtures mounted to the tester. A digital force gauge can be programmed to stop the tester at a pre-selected force.

Automated Motorized Force Testers

Automated motorized force testers use an attached load cell with integrated electronics instead of a force gauge. The electronics can be mounted to the frame in a form of a tablet or console or built into the frame enclosure.

The test programs are stored in the electronics and can be password protected. These devices feature USB and serial data outputs and can use dedicated or non-dedicated load cells. The integrated tablet PC will also store test results and plot the graphs from your data points which may also be exported into your own Data Acquisition System.

Force Gauges

Two types of force gauges are commonly available: mechanical and digital.

Mechanical Force Gauges

Mechanical gauges have a dial indicator with a second needle or mechanism to capture peak loads.

Digital Force Gauges

Basic digital gauges have peak force detection, analog and digital outputs, and unit of measurement selection. Higher end digital force gauges include all of the basic features and, in addition, may have a color display, include data storage, statistical calculations, interface to PC with software, selectable sampling rates and allow user password protection. Smaller adaptors as the Chisel, Flat Notch and Hook Point are typical accessories that come with the force gauges.

Grips and Fixture Guidelines

Tension and compression fixtures and grips make up the majority of adaptors used in force testing. Users also have the choice of building custom fixtures that mount easily to “T” Slot worktables available on most force testers.

Below are examples of the most common grips and fixtures with guidelines to help users in the decision making process.

Wedge Action Grips

Wedge action grips are spring loaded self-aligning auto tightening grips. The clamping force increases as load increases. These grips can be used with plastic, metals and rubber as long as the grip faces do not create a break point in the sample.

Vise Action Grips

Vise action grips provide a flexible solution and make it easy to grip test specimens at an affordable price compared to wedge action grips.

Vise action grips have a diversity of jaw faces and sizes to choose from allowing the testing of different sample widths.  These types of grips could be considered the universal grips.

Grip Faces Selection

The key in choosing the proper grip face is to consider the surface area, hardness and shape of the sample to be tested. Then determine what type of grip face is needed to assure the best combination between your sample and jaws while minimizing slippage and rupture in the grip faces.

Grip faces come in many shapes and forms as; Plain faces, diamond pattern, wave faces, rubber faces, cross cut faces, carrier faces and V-notched faces. These different face patterns are available in different sizes and depths.

As an example; performing a tension test on thin film using grip faces with deep serrated pattern will most likely rupture in the jaw and fail the test whereas selecting the proper grip face with a smaller serrated pattern most likely will be able to hold the material properly without breaking in the grips. It is important to select a test equipment supplier who will work with you to determine the proper grips and fixtures needed for your specific test.

Compression Plates and Adaptors

Compression plates and adaptors come in many shapes and sizes. They are used in many applications and are available in different diameters, thicknesses and lengths used in puncture testing.

Questions to Ask When Considering the Purchase of a Single Column Force Tester

When deciding on a single column tester, several key questions need to be answered.  

  1. What is the maximum force applied during the test and what consideration does that have on possible future testing? Will a single column tester have the force capacity for any future testing needs?
  2. What accuracy is required from both the force and displacement measurements?
  3. Is speed an important parameter and if so, what speed is required? If speed is not important a manual tester with a gauge may suffice.
  4. How many years has the supplier been in business and can the supplier provide solutions for future applications?
  5. What types of grips are needed?
  6. Can the supplier perform repair and calibration services?

Conclusion

Single column force testers, typically with a maximum capacity of 5kN, are a cost-effective solution for the testing of low-force force products with force ranges up to 5kN.

With the many different models and types of single column force testers available, there is likely a version to fit practically every budget. Their compact footprint allows single column testers to be placed on a bench or tabletop in a lab with minimum encumbrance.

The nearly unlimited choice of test fixturing and grips makes the single column tester an ideal choice for a wide range of low-force test requirements. And, with the diversity and versatility of today’s single column force testers, the choice of manufacturer and supplier is a key consideration, especially in terms of sales, service and support as well as future testing requirements.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Lloyd Instruments Ltd.

For more information on this source, please visit Lloyd Instruments Ltd.

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