One of the fascinating aspects of designing and manufacturing load cells is the sheer number of diverse applications our products can be used for. To prove the point, we set ourselves the challenge of linking load cells to some of January’s more obscure awareness days. Here are the results!
National Popcorn Day
Popping your own corn is one of life’s little science experiments we never tire of watching (or enjoying the end product). Inside each kernel is a drop of water, encased in the hull. When the kernel is heated, the water turns to steam and the resulting pressure blows the hull apart, creating popcorn.
The integrity of each kernel is crucial, as kernel hull damage affects the internal pressure and the corn will not pop. The packaging of popcorn therefore has to be done with care to minimise damage.
Most microwave popcorn is packaged using a low velocity pressure blower system that minimising hull damage. Dust and fluff are filtered out before the kernels whizz on their airy way through an expanded flexible hose that slows the kernel velocity and reduces damage.
The hoses also ensure accuracy:
“The flexible hoses allow for unrestricted up and down movement as the weight changes in the tanks. This isolation permits the load cells to produce accurate weighments without interference from the conveying system.“
The kernels gently land in storage tanks monitored by load cells to track the weight of corn, before the kernels move on to the packing stage.
National Hug Day
We all know someone who gives great hugs, and a couple of folk who never seem to get the hug pressure quite right, whether hardly-there soft or rib-crushingly firm! So, could robots do the job better? A US patent application filed in April 2017 reveal that Disney is considering ‘soft body’ robotic versions of their animated characters that are designed to offer “physical interaction with humans”.
The use of load cells in measuring and applying the correct amount of grip in industrial robotic arms and hands is well established. Equally, load cells are used to assess the grip force applied by humans, and used as a diagnostic tool for dementia and in rehabilitation.
A professor at Colorado State University created a hugging machine to help those suffering from autism and stress. The device gently squeezes the user between foam covered panels, accompanied by light and sound therapy. The original concept have been developed into a commercial product by a Danish firm, and retailing at over EURO30,000.
So, a cuddly robot that gives hugs at just the perfect pressure is perfectly possible, but how desirable? We think we prefer the real thing…
National Puzzle Day
We love this “Escape Room” puzzle a la Crystal Maze, using five load cells and a microcontroller.
National Load Cell Day
No, it doesn’t exist yet, but it’s an idea we’d like to explore. In the meantime, if you’ve got an innovative project you’ve monitored or measured using our load cells, do let us know and we can feature it here in our blog.