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What is the difference between a force sensor and a load cell?

The two words are often used as synonyms but they describe two different products, which we will look at in more detail in this article.


What is a force sensor?

A force sensor often consists of two parts. On the one hand, it has a spring body that is deformed by the force to be measured. On the other hand, there is a device for measuring the deformation.

Different types of force sensors:

S- type force sensors

S-type force sensors get their name from their shape and offer excellent performance in both tension and compression applications. They offer long life and a compact design, making them suitable for confined environments. Many S-types can also be ATEX approved. With this, they can then be used in hazardous conditions. Applications for S-type force sensors include container and truck scales, tank scales and inventory monitoring.

Tension and compression force sensor

Most load cells can be described as compression load cells. Tension/compression force sensors are compact cells with the ability to support high-capacity loads. They are particularly suitable for industrial applications where very high reliability is required. The sensors are commonly used for platform scales, hopper scales, car testers, chain scales and electronic weighing devices.

What is a load cell?

Load cells are used to measure force and load for weighing devices. They are a special type of force sensor used for weighing with scales and are calibrated in grams, kilograms, and tons.

Different types of load cells:

Platform load cells

These are the most common type of load cell available on the market. They are often hermetically sealed and can measure off-centre loads, which is useful for building scales. They offer high reliability and accuracy. Platform load cells are often used in compact, low capacity weighing systems. Often, they are used in counting scales, general weighing scales, price scales, industrial scales and packaging machines.

Shear beam load cells

Shear beam load cells often offer a low-profile design and can be integrated into restricted areas. Some models are corrosion resistant and well suited to harsh environments. Shear beam load cells are used for OEM applications and for multi-cell applications such as tank weighing and industrial process control. They are also used in force measurement applications, static weights, and dynamic weighing.

Miniature load cells

Miniature and subminiature load cells are small and have a low-profile. Some of them are less than 1 cm high. This makes them well suited for applications where space is an issue. Although they are small, they are still robust and extremely reliable.

What do the load cell accuracy classes stand for?

Load cells are divided into four categories based on their performance characteristics: "Class A", "Class B", "Class C" and "Class D". Whereby class D1 and D2 have a relatively low accuracy. The number after the letter indicates the maximum number of division values in thousands.

Example: C3 means class C, 3000v. The number of calibration values (n) into which the measuring range of a class C load cell breaks down is between 500 and 10,000. The accuracy class specifies the maximum deviation of a measuring instrument from the true value.

What is the difference between a load cell and a force sensor?

With a force sensor, tensile and compressive forces are measured through deformation. A load cell is used for weighing with scales and is a special form of force sensor. While a force sensor is calibrated in newtons, load cells weigh in kilograms. However, it is not uncommon for a load cell to be used as a force sensor.

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Article published on: 09/12/2022

Article last updated on: 09/12/2022