This section provides an overview for force sensors as well as their applications and principles. Also, please take a look at the list of 24 force sensor manufacturers and their company rankings. Here are the top-ranked force sensor companies as of December, 2023: 1.HITEC Sensor Developments, 2.Boltsafe, 3.Kistler Instrument Corp..
A Force Sensor is a sensor that measures the magnitude of a force or moment.
It is used to reproduce the human sense of touch by detecting the amount and direction of physical force. Its main application is in robotics.
Force Sensors are basically 6-axis type Force Sensors, which means they can detect forces in three dimensions (X, Y, and Z) and moments around each of these axes (X, Y, and Z).
Force Sensors are used in industrial robots to automate tasks that previously had to be performed manually.
Force Sensors can simultaneously measure forces and moments. Installed at the work end of a robot, it can work with appropriate force while measuring external and reaction forces.
Force Sensors can measure accurate forces and moments so that robots can work with appropriate forces. This enables automation of precision work by robots.
Specific tasks include insertion of electronic components and connectors with soft terminals, mating with little play, precision screw tightening, deburring, polishing with subtle force, picking work, and independent control of a biped robot.
A terminal equipped with a Force Sensor can be positioned beside a patient, allowing a doctor to access and interpret the forces and moments detected by the Force Sensor, which enables remote tactile diagnosis.
Force Sensors detect the amount of deformation caused by a force and convert it into a force or moment.
Strain gage, piezoelectric, optical, and capacitive force sensors are representative among the detection methods of Force Sensors.
The strain gage type is a method of converting force or torque by utilizing the property of metal resistive materials whose electrical resistance changes according to the tensile or compressive force applied to the sensor part. This method is widely used for force sensors because it is compact, highly accurate, and responsive.
Piezoelectric Force Sensors use piezoelectric materials such as quartz crystal or PZT (lead zirconate titanate) for the sensor part to measure force. They are compact, highly responsive, and relatively inexpensive. However, the accuracy is not as high as strain gage type or capacitance type.
The structure of the capacitive type sensor involves electrodes made of metallic materials arranged facing each other in a capacitor-like configuration. This method detects changes in capacitance due to changes in distance caused by strain between conductors due to force.
The capacitance type is characterized by its relatively simple configuration and low cost. If the electrodes are made of film, they can be made smaller and thinner. Accuracy and response are also excellent.
In the optical method, a pattern is marked on the object to be measured at regular intervals. The change in the pattern that occurs when a force is applied is detected by an optical sensor such as a camera or laser, and the magnitude of the force is calculated and obtained.
The greatest advantage of the optical method is that it enables non-contact measurement. On the other hand, accuracy, responsiveness, miniaturization, and cost are inferior to other methods. It is limited to special applications that require non-contact measurement.
There are what are called HDR (High Dynamic Range) Force Sensors, which are characterized by a wide dynamic range, e.g., from 10 g to 20 kg.
By combining AI and robot technology with HDR Force Sensors, fine assembly operations can be performed while adjusting for minute forces. Robots are increasingly automating and upgrading assembly work at production sites.
The capacitive Force Sensor is characterized by its ability to measure 6-axis components by detecting changes in the distance between two parallel plates. A simple structure can be realized and the price can be kept low.
Force Sensors with an anti-overload stopper mechanism inside the sensor are also available. Recently, these sensors are widely used in the industrial robot field. Demand is expected to grow more and more due to the increasing automation in the manufacturing industry.
Cooperative work between humans and robots can be realized by having humans operate robots that use Force Sensors. Fine work that requires minute force adjustment can also be performed.
In particular, in the manufacturing field, the use of Force Sensors has realized automation of tasks that can only be performed by skilled craftsmen, thereby improving productivity. In the medical field, Force Sensors are expected to be used in remote medical examinations where the condition of the affected area can be determined by tactile diagnosis.
*Including some distributors, etc.
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Tecsis LP, a part of WIKA Group, is a manufacturer of measurement technology equipment since 1921 that is headquartered in Worthington, Ohio. They produce high-accuracy industrial sensors that monitor critical forces and provide real-time feedback, which is used in industries such as automotive, aerospace, automation, and more. Their measurement equipment includes force sensors, load cells, and pressure transducers. They offer load ranges from 50 grams to 2.5 million pounds, pressure ranges from 0.5 psi to 100,000 psi, and unamplified or amplified output. They offer stock, standard, or custom sensors in all capacities, outputs, and accuracies.
Sensata Technologies was originally founded in 1916 as General Plate Company and is now headquartered in Attleboro, Massachusetts. The company is a developer, manufacturer, and seller of sensors and sensor-rich solutions, electrical protection components, and other products used in automotive, industrial, energy, telecom, and construction industries. The company has 20 product categories including force sensors, tire management solutions, inverters & charges, and pressure sensors.The company’s next generation of products are designed to improve the efficiency of industrial pumps, fuel efficiency in ICE cars and energy efficiency in TVs, and facilitate usage of IoT devices.
Founded in 1980, Dytran manufactures high-quality dynamic testing solutions from its 45,000-square-foot facility in Chatsworth, California. Dytran designs and manufactures innovative sensors, accelerometers, and associated electronics for measuring dynamic force, pressure, and vibration. The company offers a wide range of product lines, with full in-house customization capabilities to provide customers with a one-stop shop for test and measurement requirements. Dytran's specializations include designing single-axis and triaxial IEPE accelerometers, ultra-high temperature charge mode sensors, pressure sensors, and digital bus-based sensors. Dylan is reputed for its sensor technologies for both product development testing and embedded solutions.
Magtrol Inc, a company founded in 1957 and based in Buffalo, New York, is a manufacturer and supplier of measurement and control products. The company specializes in providing dynamometers, hysteresis brakes, torque transducers, and load cells. These instruments are used in a wide range of industries including automotive, aerospace, energy, and manufacturing. The company’s products are designed to measure torque, force, speed, and power, enabling customers to optimize their processes and ensuring performance. The company also provides a knowledgeable and responsive customer service team, assisting with product inquiries, technical support, and order processing.
Honeywell International Inc. was founded in 1885 and headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina. Honeywell is a diversified technology and manufacturing company to global customers in many industries such as aerospace, building technologies, performance materials, manufacturing, and safety. Honeywell produces hardware and software solutions for each industry it serves. In building technologies, Honeywell designs access controls, electrical and wiring, fire life safety, and employee training services. In aerospace, Honeywell designs cockpit systems and displays, engines, cabin management and cleaning, and health and usage monitoring.
HITEC Sensor Developments is a manufacturer and supplier of precision measurement and control solutions, established in 1971 and headquartered in Littleton, Massachusetts. The company offers a diverse range of products tailored for precision measurement and control, such as custom load cells designed to measure forces in unique applications, force sensors for accurate force measurement, torque sensors for measuring rotational forces, pressure transducers for monitoring fluid pressures, and specialized instrumentation for data acquisition and analysis. These products find wide application in industries such as aerospace, automotive, medical, and industrial automation.
Diversified Technical Systems (DTS), established in 1990 and based in Seal Beach, California, is a manufacturer of rugged miniature data acquisition systems and sensors designed for extreme environmental conditions. Its product range serves diverse industries, including automotive, aerospace, military, defense, industrial, and sports biomechanics. It offers comprehensive solutions such as automotive data acquisition systems, compact data loggers, sensors, software for data analysis, embedded data acquisition systems, and integrated solutions for various applications.
Marposs S.p.A. is headquartered in Bentivoglio, Italy. The company serves industries such asa aerospace, semiconductors, machine tooling, and biomedical as a manufacturer and as a service provider. The company’s products vary by industry but include tools for gauging, profiling, and monitoring, as well as data management systems and machines for testing and automation. The company’s services include after sales service, customer training, original spare parts, retrofit and upgrade of existing machinery, and project management consulting services.
Gefran is an Italian manufacturer of industrial process automation systems that was founded in Provaglio d'Iseo, Brescia in 1960. The company produces regulatory drives and inverters, various sensors, and automation components such as programmers and controllers. It also offers tailor made systems for specific industrial processes, including thermoforming, injection molding, and extrusion. Gefran products are primarily used in factory automation, as well as by clients in the metalworking, plastics, material handling, and food processing sectors.
Sinus Messtechnik, established in 1990, and based in Leipzig, Germany, is a manufacturer and supplier of measurement systems. The product portfolio of the company includes diverse range of sound level meters, noise dosimeters, measurement and monitor systems, sensors, software, and accessories. The products are used in various applications which include environmental noise, occupational safety, automobile, aircraft, customized solutions, and multi-channel data capture systems. The company also offers support for hardware maintenance and repairs.
ACRN, founded in 1997, is a manufacturer and designer of physical testing and measurement solutions with over 2000 equipped plants & laboratories and headquarters in France. The product categories are equipment used for torque testing, force measurement, leak testing, sensors, and measurement. The products include torque wrenches & screwdrivers, vacuum chambers, dynamometers, tube seattle testers, and compression test stands used in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, food, packaging, and industrial markets. The company provides services such as calibration & metrology, custom-made equipment, specific testing, and after-sale services.
BL AUTOTEC, founded in 1987 as a member of the Bando Chemical Co., Ltd. group with headquarters in Japan, is a manufacturer of robotics and automated equipment and components. The company's products include automatic tool changing components for robotics, rotary joints developed for positioners and turntables, couple joints used to connect and disconnect pneumatics and electric signals, and lock-up RCC devices commonly used for mounting tools to robotic arms. BL AUTOTEC also supplies a range of tools that include torque sensors, deburring tools, and finishing tools.
Sintokogio, Ltd., headquartered in Nagoya City, Japan, and established in 1934, is a versatile manufacturer of industrial equipment and machinery. They specialize in manufacturing equipment and machinery for foundries, including molding machines, sand mixers, and casting robots. Additionally, Sintokogio caters to the surface treatment industry by providing shot blasting machines, painting systems, and coating equipment. They also offer environmental solutions, such as dust collectors, exhaust gas treatment systems, and waste treatment equipment, ensuring efficient operations of the industries. Sintokogio, Ltd. operates multiple manufacturing facilities across various locations in Japan, including Toyokawa, Ichinomiya, and Osaki.
MinebeaMitsumi Inc. was incorporated in 1951in Japan and manufactures and supplies machined components, and electronic devices and components globally. It operates through four segments: machined components, electronic devices and components, MITSUMI Business, and the U-Shin business segment. MinebeaMitsumi specializes in bearing products including spherical, roller, rod end, and ball bearings for aerospace. MinebeaMitsumi also produces products including precision mechanical assemblies, fasteners, other special components including clutches and brakes, motors, blowers, sensors and lighting devices. Additionally, MinebeaMitsumi offers its products for use in PCs and peripheral equipment, information and telecommunications equipment, household electrical appliances, automobiles, and aerospace.
Founded in Switzerland, Kistler serves both public and private customers in the automotive, aerospace, maritime, transportation, medical, semiconductor, energy and life sciences industries. Products include sensors as well as connectivity, signal, and data acquisition devices as well as software solutions. Applications of these solutions include R&D to safety testing, and condition monitoring. Key technologies include dynamic pressure, force, torque and acceleration measurement technologies.
Baumer Electric AG was founded in 1952 and is headquartered in the city of Frauenfeld, Switzerland. The ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 certified company provides sensor solutions for digitalization, packaging, railway, food and beverage, and pharmaceutical industries. A sample of the company’s sensor product listings includes object detection, distance measurement, force sensors, accessories, and connectivity devices. The company offers product support for setup and installation, product functionality, and optimized product usage.
FMS Technology, established in 1994 and based in Singapore, is a provider of industrial automation solutions. The company’s comprehensive portfolio includes industrial visual apparatus, robotics, and motion control solutions for diverse sectors such as electronics, automotive, and pharmaceuticals. FMS Technology succeeds in delivering cutting-edge technologies to optimize manufacturing processes, enhance product quality, and increase operational efficiency. The company empowers industries to meet the challenges of modern production demands. Additionally, their devotion to customer success is backed by a team of experts, ensuring seamless integration and great support for clients worldwide.
Angst+Pfister Sensors and Power AG, founded in 1987 and headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland, is a manufacturer of power supplies, and electronic components. It operates as a subsidiary of the Angst+Pfister Group, serving a global clientele. Its product range encompasses inertial sensors, power supplies, and current sensors, including AC/DC power supplies, DC/DC converters, DC/AC inverters, and LED AC/DC power supplies. These components find applications in overload protection, current metering, and battery charge monitoring. Depending on requirements, the company is also capable of delivering modified standard products or customised solutions, and offers differential probes for the development, maintenance, and repair of solar plants.
WIKA Group was founded in 1946 and is headquartered in Klingenberg, Germany. The company serves industries such as food and beverage, power generation, refrigeration, and semiconductor, but is primarily known for medical equipment. The company’s six primary product market segments are Pressure, Temperature, Level, Force, Flow, and Calibration. In addition, the company offers Industrial IoT services including conditional monitoring and alarming, asset tracking, predictive maintenance, and process automation. The company also offers standard calibration, repair, and consultancy services in addition to providing online tools for customer assistance.
BoltSafe is based in the Netherlands as a company that provides measuring solutions to visualize bolt load for many industries utilizing compact sensors since 1995. The company offers CMS and PMS load cells that have many applications in petrochemical, mining, mechanical, wind, civil engineering, and power generation industries. BoltSafe also provides integrated and standalone systems as well as RS-232 converters and wireless 4G connections. The company provides access to technical data sheets, manuals, brochure, and software to aid clients in every operational process of their products.
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