Everything in our world is flexible and as a result, all objects are susceptible to force. John Cove discusses the ergonomics of everyday items and the role that force measurement plays in product development
If you ever stay at the Grand Hyatt hotel in San Francisco, don’t be alarmed to receive a note from the staff advising you that the 35-storey skyscraper may creak and sway in the wind. Even Dubai’s mountainous Burj Khalifa, weighing half a million tonnes, can flex back and forth by two metres at its 2,717-foot peak. Everything in our world is flexible and even the largest of structures are susceptible to force.
Have you ever thought about the force required to tap the screen on your smartphone or push buttons on your remote control? We do these things without thinking, but for design engineers, force measurement is a crucial consideration – even when developing small, every day devices.
Historically, force was calculated by using a series of mathematical equations, known as Newton’s first, second and third law. More recently, force measurement testing has been limited to handheld metrology devices. While faster than lengthy calculations and more accurate than guesswork, these machines do not provide the levels of precision needed for complex structures and modern products.
Accuracy is imperative for the development of high quality and ergonomic goods, especially in a climate where end users have come to expect seamless performance from both consumer and industrial devices or machines. Modern force measurement systems need to meet the exact requirements of research scientists, design engineers, quality managers and the technicians responsible for material characterisation, verification and validation of products.
When combined with quality test measurement frames, advanced force measurement software, like Starrett’s L2 Plus, can provide a comprehensive analysis of a measurement test – providing data and insight far beyond the basic figures provided by simpler force measurement approaches.
By exporting measurement data through USB or wirelessly through Bluetooth, manufacturers can access high-resolution graphs based on load, distance, height and time of the measurement. In addition, in the case of the Starrett L2 plus system historical test data is archived and available to analyse at a later date, helping speed up future tests and navigating potential problems or errors.
This intelligent software increases the accuracy of force measurement, while also improving precision for engineers producing components. By gaining complete control with a system like this, design engineers are less restricted and in turn, can be more innovative with the products they design. What’s more, quality managers can improve customer satisfaction as they understand the products they are producing are unlikely to fall victim to manufacturing errors.
Most skyscrapers are designed to bend in the wind. The 206-storey Burj Khalifa, which is exposed to strong desert gales, was tuned specifically with this in mind. The ergonomics of everyday items like smartphones and remote controls have been tried and tested, but as the technology and machinery we encounter every day evolves, the requirements of force measurement is only going to advance. Businesses need to adopt the latest force measurement technology to avoid being left out in the cold.
John Cove of metrology specialist Starrett.