Strain Gauges

Historical development
• Lord kelvin in 1856 first reported on the relationship b/w strain and the resistance of wire conductors. • It took 80 years to find commercial application. • Simmons at california institute of technology and ruge at MIT independently discovered in 1938 that small diameter wires could be adhesivly bonded to a structure to measure surface strain. • Strain gauges developed by them were known as SR-4 gauges. • Metal foil strain gauges were first developed by sanders and roe in england in 1952. • These gauges have replaced the wire grid SR-4 gauges except for a very few special applications. • Semi conductor gauges were developed in 1960 by bell labs. • Present focus is towards better instrumentation and data reduction.
• System 5000/system 6200/system 7000

Strain sensitivity of a wire  Resistance of a conductor can be written as R = ϼL/A (1)  Where ϼ-specific resistance of a material, L-length of a conductor, A-c/s area of the conductor.  Differentiating eqn 1 and dividing it by R gives dR/R=d ϼ/ ϼ+dL/L-dA/A (2)  If the wire diameter is D, the change in area can be calculated as A = pi/4 (D2) dA/A = 2 dD/D  From the defn of poisson’s ratio one can write, dD/D = -(poisson ratio) dL/L Hence, dA/A = -2(poisson ratio) dL/L (3) (stress as well as temperature changes the resistance)

SA = (dϼ/ϼ)/(dL/L) +(1+2(poison ratio)) (5)  strain sensitivity approaches too when the gauge experiences plastic deformation. Strain sensitivity of the conductor SA is defined as SA = (dR/R)/(dL/L) (4)  In terms of specific resistance and poisson’s ratio of the strain gauge material. .

Gauge construction .

1000 and 3000 ohms are for special purpose gauges.0025mm and the resistance per meter is 1000 ohms.  Standard resistance are 120 and 350 ohms. resistance is small and vice versa.  To have a minimum resistance of 100 ohms.Gauge construction  Minimum resistance required from instrumentation point of view is 100 ohms.  If the area of c/s is large. one requires 100mm length of wire---this is too long.  If for example.  Hence the gauge is formed by folded grids etched on metal foil. diameter of the conductor is 0.  Gauge factor needs to be found experimentally in strain gauge.  Obviously one cannot measure strain at a point using a long wire. whereas 500. .

 Gauge length ranges from 0.  End-loops and solder tabs are considered insensitive to strain because of their relativly large c/s area and low electrical resistance.Gauge length – defnition  Gauge length of a strain gauge is the active or strain sensitive length of the grid.  gauge measures the axial strain in the direction of the gauge length. .2mm to 100mm.

Error in measurement ( when gauge length is not choosen appropriate) .


Thumb rule in selection of gauge length As a rule of thumb. fillet. when practicable. or the corresponding dimension of any other stress raiser at which the strain measurement is to made.1 times the radius of a hole. the gauge length should be no greater than 0. or notch. .

Gauge location .


025mm wire dia. • Excellent thermal stability. • Advantages• SA =2. hence I2R loss is less.49µ-ohm-meter. • SA is linear over a large range of strain (0 to 8%) • SA is not altered even when the material is subjected to plastic strain.only 50mm wire for 100ohm resistance using a 0. Note: both temp and load affects the resistance. • Has high specific resistance of 0. .1 for the above alloy. • Useful to construct a small gauge with high resistance lower current.Commonly used SG material  Most commonly used SG material is an alloy of 55% cu and 45% ni called constantan/advance.

. impurities in the alloy and range of strain over which the measurement of strain sensitivity is made.Metallic alloys commonly employed in commercial strain gauges The value of strain sensitivity depends upon degree of cold working imparted to the conductor in its formation.

49 micro-ohm-meter) o Useful when constructing small gauges with relatively a high resistance. • The alloy has excellent thermal stability. materials. • The alloy has a high specific resistance ( 0. o When mounted on common structural temperature changes don’t influence. and hysteresis of bonding filaments is extremely small.Advance or constantan alloy • The value of strain sensitivity is linear over wide range of strain. • The value of strain sensitivity does not change significantly as the material is subjected to plastic strain.small .


This is achieved by introducing trace impurities or by heat treatment. the temperature induced change in resistance/unit resistance on a material can be maintained at less than 10-6/oc .• Easy to develop self temperature compensated gauges. o With temperature compensated strain gauges.

Percentage change in resistance as a function of percent strain for advance alloy .

. • Useful for dynamic applications where temperature is stable.6) o Advantages in dynamic applications where the strain gauge output must be amplified to a considerable degree before recording. • High fatigue strength o Useful when the gauge is to operate in cyclic strain field where the alternating strains exceed 1500 micro strains. • Poor thermal stability o When mounted on steel a 1 deg celcius would produce a strain of 300 to 400 micro strains.Isoelastic alloy • High sensitivity ( strain sensitivity = 3.


.(advance is limited to 204 deg celcius) • Difficult to solder the lead wires to the tabs. o Useful for strain measurements over weeks or months.Karma alloy • Fatigue limit is higher than advance but lower than isoelastic. • Excellent stability with time. • Useful upto 260 deg celcius for static strain measurements. • Temperature compensation achievable in karma is better over wide range of temperature than advance alloy.


Thermally induced strain vs temperature .

which serves as a backing or carrier before photoetching. • Markings for the centerline of gauge length and width are also displayed on the carrier. wrinkle or tear. • Easy to distort. . • Very thin paper was the first carrier material.Strain gauge carriers – its need. • The etched metal film grids are very fragile. • Metal film is usually bonded to a thin plastic sheet. • Carrier material provides electrical insulation between the component and the gauge.

o Its tough and flexible. o High level cyclic strains and fatigue life. . o Has high precision and linearity. • Very thin high modulus epoxy is used for transducer applications.025 mm has replaced paper. o Useful for temperature upto 400 deg celcius. • Glass fibre reinforced epoxies and or phenolics. o Not suitable for general purpose as it is brittle and can be broken during installation.Types of carriers • Polyamide sheet of 0.

2) For very high temperature applications strippable carrier is used. . Carrier is removed during application of a gauge and ceramic adhesives serves to maintain the grid configuration.1) The grid is encapsulated by the carrier for high level cyclic strain applications.

• Epoxies For long term-transducer applications. . • Polyester Recommended for low temperature applications. • Ceramic For high temperature applications.Cements used for bonding • Cynoacrylate For quick curing and short term applications.

• Coatings such as polyurethane. microcyrstalline wax or silicon rubber can be used to protect from moisture and marginally extend the life of installation.Cynoacrylate cement • Ideal for general purpose strain gauge applications. • Strain gauge can be employed approximatly 10 mins after bonding. . • Not suitable for extended life applications. • Thin film of adhesive is placed between the gauge and the specimen and gentle pressure is applied for 1 to 2 mins for inducing polymerization. • Poymerization continues at room temperature without maintaining the pressure.


• Bonding strength can be increased by adding micro-sized particles of pure silica ( of 5 to 10% by weight) o However. temperature coefficient expansion of epoxy is reduced. . o Small deviations can affect the curing temperature and the residual stresses during polymerization. o Amine-type curing agents produce exothermic reaction and cure at room temperature. o Anhydride type of curing agents require application of heat of the order of 120 deg celcius for several hours. • The relative proportion of hardener used has to be maintained as per manufacturers recommendation. • Epoxy is mixed with hardener to induce polymerization.Epoxy cements • Exhibit Higher bond strength and higher level of strain at failure.

005mm) o Clamping pressure of 350kpa is recommended. o Usually incorporate modifiers or plastisizers to improve the toughness. o Clamping pressure of 35 to 140 kpa is recommended to ensure a thin adhesive layer. o These cause large amount of creep and hysteresis and hence undesirable. • The use of hardware-store variety two-tube epoxy systems is discouraged. • A properly cured installation exhibit a resistance to ground exceeding 10000 micro ohms.• Thin bond lines tends to minimize creep hysteresis and linearity problems. . • In transducer applications dilutent-thinned epoxies are used to get extremely thin void free bond lines(0.