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Materials for Gauges

A good gauge material should have the following qualities:

1. High gauge factor
2. High resistance
3. Low temperature sensitivity
4. High electrical stability
5. High yield point stability
6. High endurance limit
7. Good workability
8. Good solderability and workability
9. Low hysteresis
10.Good corrosion resistance
11.Low thermal e.m.f. when joined with other metals.
Carrier Materials
A strain-gauge grid is normally supported on some form of carrier material.
This provides the necessary electrical insulation between the grid and the material
to be tested, dimensional stability, and also provides some degree of mechanical
protection for the delicate sensing element. A good carrier material should have
the following desirable characteristics:

Minimum thickness
High mechanical strength
High dielectric strength
Minimum temperature restrictions
Good adherence to cement used

Temperature Compensation
The ideal strain gauge would change resistance in accordance with stressproducing deformations in the structural surface to which it was bonded and for no
other reason. Unfortunately, gauge resistance is affected by many other factors,
out of which temperature is very important.
The total indicated strain occurring at a point in a structure is made up of
mechanical strain and apparent strain. The mechanical strain is that produced by
external forces. The apparent strain is the portion of the total indicated strain
induced by thermal effects including expansion of the base metal, expansion of the
gauge metal and change in electrical resistance of the gauge. Thus, when the
ambient temperature increases (say), then


1. The gauge grid will elongate so that

2. The base material on which the gauge is mounted will elongate so that

3. The resistance of the gauge metal will increase because of the influence of
the temperature coefficient of resistivity of the gauge material so that

The combined effect of these three factors will produce a temperature

induced change in resistance of the gauge,


with may be expressed as:

T.F .T


= thermal coefficient of expansion of the gauge material

= thermal coefficient of expansion of the base material
= temperature coefficient of resistivity of the gauge

F = gauge factor
R = resistance of gauge

= rise in temperature.

Equation holds only for small values of

considered constant. For large values of
be used without introducing large errors.

, where , and can be

, average values of these factors might

, then the gauge will be subjected to a mechanical strain,
which does not occur in the specimen.

If = , then this component of apparent strain vanishes. However, the

gauge will still register a change of resistance with temperature if is not zero. In
order to prevent significant errors due to this effect, some form of temperature
compensation is usually employed when strain gauges are used in applications
where the steady state or static component of strain must be measured. Currently
available methods of compensation for the apparent strain include the use of a
dummy or compensating strain gauge, self-temperature compensating (STC)
gauge, compensation by dissimilar or similar gauges in the Wheatstone bridges and
compensation by computation.

1. Compensating Dummy Gauge:

The earliest form of temperature compensation makes use of the electrical
bridge circuit in which the active gauge is connected to balance out unwanted
temperature induced resistance change. This is usually called the compensating
dummy arrangement. The dummy gauge identical to the active gauge in type
and lot number, is mounted on an unstressed piece of the specimen material and
placed in the same thermal environment as the active gauge. The active and
compensating gauges are then connected as adjacent arms of the bridge circuit in
the readout instrument. Effects common to both gauges will preserve bridge
balance conditions, and no output signal results. Since only the active gauge is
exposed on mechanical or thermal strain caused by specimen stress, bridge
unbalance is proportional to the magnitude of specimen stress producing strain.
The method fails entirely if the temperature does not vary in an identical fashion at
both gauge locations.

2. Self-temperature Compensated Gauge:

The terms temperature compensated is applied to strain gauges in which
the resistance change due to temperature is equal to zero. Self-temperature
compensated gauges will perform properly only when used on materials having

the specific value of thermal expansion coefficient for which they are designed.
STC gauges can be obtained for use on materials having thermal expansion
coefficients from zero to 25 ppm/oC.

Two method are used for obtaining self-temperature compensation. In the

first method, self-temperature compensation is created by altering the temperature
coefficient of resistance of the grid material so that, when mounted on materials
having a certain thermal expansion coefficient, the apparent strain will be a
suitably low value. This is done, in most cases, by special selection or thermal
processing of the grid alloy. The two principal classes of strain-gauge alloys
susceptible to such treatment are Constantan and Karma. The second method
includes forming a grid with two lengths of gauge wires joined suitably in series
so that the resultant apparent strain is zero.

Dual-element self temperature


Compensation by dissimilar

3. Compensation by Dissimilar Gauges:

Compensation of the temperature effect in a bridge network is accomplished by
putting dissimilar gauges into adjacent bridge arms as shown in Figure. The gauge
in the first arm should have a relatively small temperature effect in the same
direction. With proper, fixed series and shunt resistances for the gauge in the
second arm, it is possible to obtain an overall temperature effect for the second
arm, that is equal to that of the first arm. Hence, the temperature effects of the two

arms will cancel each other with a relatively small loss in the strain sensitivity of
the network.
This method would appear to have a better chance of success than the selftemperature compensated gauge because the relative resistance of the filament is
not critical. If will always be possible after a gauge has been made, to select the
fixed resistance for proper compensation. Furthermore, compensation over a
greater temperature increases. in this case, temperature would not have to be
known very accurately.

4. Compensation by Similar Gauges:

Best possible temperature compensation is obtained for unpredictable effects
as for predictable effects with two similar gauges in adjacent arms of a Wheatstone
bridge. However, this circuit arrangement eliminates the hydrostatic component of
stress from the reading and only the shear component of stress is reflected. Hence,
the gauges should be arranged so as to pick up the greatest signal from the shear
component of stress. This means that one gauge should be positioned in the
direction of the maximum principal strain, the other in the direction of minimum
principal strain. This method is likely to give best results when the direction of the
principal strains is known.
5. Compensation by Computation:
By knowing the temperature characteristics of a strain gauge and the base
metal, and if the temperature can be observed separately, a correction can be
calculated theoretically from Equation and applied to the observed strain.

Figure: Compensation by similar gauges.