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Using Strain Gages to Measure Both
Strain and Temperature
by P. Cappa, G. De Rita, K.G. McConnell and L.W. Zachary
ABSTRACT -A transducer is proposed that measures both
temperature and strain by using two different strain gages.
The theoretical basis for designing such a transducer is
developed. Experimental results indicate that the temperature
signal can be measured satisfactorily.
Electrical-resistance strain gages are affected by both
systematic and random errors. Depending upon the
accuracy and precision required to meet the test objectives,
these systematic and random errors may bave to be
pursued aggressively. O ne of the significant an d well
known causes of systematic error is the effect of tempera-
ture variation on the apparent strain. The most common
procedure employed to correct the temperature-induced
apparent strain and the gage-factor variation is to use the
temperature as measured by a separate sensor.
A proposed transducer, called the 'duplex gage'
provides a means to simultaneously measure both tem-
perature and strain by using two strain gages that are
temperature compensated for use on materials with
different coefficients of linear expansion. The transducer
uses the phenomenon that when a gage is installed on a
material with a different thermal coefficient of expansion
the apparent strain versus temperature curve rotates about
the reference temperature (T. = 24°C}. This phenomenon
has been used by Poore and Kesterson

to determine the
coefficient of thermal expansion of solids.
This paper discusses the prelirninary validation of the
new transducer. The test specimens are subjected to only
temperature changes and no extemal loads are applied.
P. Cappa (SEM Member) is Assistant Projessor, and G. De Rita is
Graduate Student, Universityof Rome "La Sapienza': Department oj
Mechanics and Aeronautics, Via Eudossiana 18, 00184 Roma, ltaly.
K.G. McConnell (SEM Fellow) and L. W. Zachary (SEM Member) are
Projessors, lowa State University, Department of Aerospace Engineering
and Engineering Mechanics, Ames, lA 50011.
Paper was presented at the 1991 SEM Spring Conference on Experimental
Mechanics held in Mi/waukee, Wl on lune 10-13.
230 • September 1992
The temperature measured by the duplex gage is compared
to the temperature measured by a thermocouple.
Theoretical Model for Measuring 8oth
Strain and Temperature
When a strain-gage installation is subjected to tempera-
ture changes during the test period, significant thermal
effects alter the gages' performance characteristics that
are described by the gages' resistance and effective gage-
factor variation with temperature.
Strain-gage resistance for gth gage can be expressed as
w h ere
!J.T temperature change from reference temperature
,, = resistance thermal coefficient
(3... mounting-material thermal-expansion coefficient
a, gage-material thermal-expansion coefficient
F, gage factor
Equation (l) shows that the strain-gage resistance changes
with temperature as well as with strain E that is due to
extemal loads. The parameters ,,, (3 ... , and a, can be
temperature dependent, though ideally they are constants.
It is of interest to measure strain E without serious errors
due to temperature. The change in gage resistance is
obtained from eq (l) as
I:J.R, = R,-R,. = R,.('Y,I:J.T+F,e+F,(3 ... !J.T-F,a,!J.T)
from which the measured strain becomes
[ , ,   F ~ { J ... -o:,)] I:J.T + (; ) E
where a generic gage factor F is used at this point since
there are several choices as to the value selected. It is
clear from eq (3) that measurement of E requires knowl-
edge of the effects of !:!.T. Equation.(3) can be written as
w h ere
'Y• + F,([3 ... - a,) ]
Er1 = F !:!.T
is the thermal strain. This equation shows that the thermal
strain depends on the thermal coefficient of resistance,
'Y•• the coefficient of expansion of the materia! the gage is
mounted on, [3,., the coefficient of expansion of the gage
foil (or wire) materia!, a,, the gage factor F, at temperature
T, the gage factor F used in either the strain indicator or
computer calculation scheme, and the temperature change
l:!. T. It is clear that some of these coefficients are tempera-
ture dependent as well.
A strain gage is designed to work with minimum
thermal strain when applied to a specific materia]. N ow,
Jet us exarnine how the different factors are obtained by
calibration. First, the reference gage factor is determined
by calibration at the reference temperature T, by applying
a known strain and adjusting the generic gage factor so
that eq (4) is satisfied with the thermal strain being zero.
This reference gage factor is denoted F*. Second, the
thermal-strain characteristic is obtained by setting the
gage factor at F* applying no external load so that E is
zero, and varying the temperature. This gives a typical
thermal-strain calibration curve as shown in Fig. l, where
the variations of Er as a function of test temperature of
one of the utilized gage in the 'duplex gage' transducer
(a strain gage compensated in temperature for steel when it
is applied on steel) are shown. Note that this curve is
lirnited to using the F* gage factor and the gage is mounted
on a given material. It is assumed that a proper bound is
obtained between the gage and the mounting materia].
Third, the gage factor is also temperature dependent. The
change in gage factor with temperature is obtained by
heating the calibration materia! to temperature T, zeroing
the bridge, and applying known calibration strains. This
allows a second calibration curve of F *l F, to be plotted
as shown in Fig. 2. Now, these equations can be applied
to measure both temperature change !:!.T and strain.
Consider that gage l is designed to work with materia] A.
Then eq (3) becomes
€, = (   ]!:!.T+
1 1
where Ert is the calibrated gage temperature characteristic.
Gage 2 is designed to work with materia! B so that its
characteristics become from eq (3)
€2 =
'Y2+F2(f3s-a2)] !J.T + ( F2 ) =
F* F* E
2 2
€Tl + ( ;2. ) €
where Er2 is the gage-temperature characteristics when
mounted on materia! B. Now, when gage 2 is mounted
on materia! A instead of materia! B for which it is
designed, eq (7) becomes
= [ 'Y2 + F2([3A- a2)] !:!.T + ( F2 )
F* F* E
2 2
which can be written as
It is assumed that both the gages are mounted at the same
surface point so that they are subjected to the same strain
E. Subtracting strain €1 [from eq (l)] from strain €2 [from
eq (9)] gives
Equation (10) contains ali of the factors that affect the
different readings. It is clear that if the ratios of FdF:
and F, are the same, then this strain difference
,........ 500
o -1
Temperature ( °C)
Fig. 1-Apparent strain versus test temperature for one
of the gages utilized in the 'duplex gage' transducer,
that is the gage compensated in temperature for steel
when it is applied on steel

t.. 0.110
T (
Fig. 2-Gage-factor variation with temperature
Experimental Mechanics • 231
depends only on temperature since ETl and ET2 are known
functions of temperature on their respective design
materiais of A and B. The gage factor ratio F,JFi is
known and the materiai thermal coefficients of expansion
are known. Then, it is possible to determine the surface
temperature T since
T= T,+!J.T (11)
Once T is known, then, the surface strain can be calculated
from either eq (6) or eq (9).
The objective of the following experiments is to verify
that the surface temperature can be obtained by using two
strain gages mounted on the same material where one
gage is designed to work with the materiai and the other
is designed to work with a material with a thermal-
expansion coefficient that is considerably different. lt is
also clear that the gage-factor ratio should be the same
for both gages. In these experiments, the mounting
materia! remained unstrained due to external loads
throughout the experiments.
Experimental Procedure and Results
To experimentally verify the proposed method and to
evaluate the relative precision and accuracy, three 'duplex
gages' are applied to three specimens (100 · 150 · 2.5
) of 1018 steel. One of the two gages of each 'duplex
gage' is compensated in temperature for the specimen
material, the other is compensated for titanium silicate.
The second gage was selected to both magnify the E2 - E,
contribution, and to simplify eq (11) ({3A = 0).
Nickel-chromium-alloy foil-type strain gages, that are
generally suggested for high-performance self-temperature-
compensated use, fully encapsulated in glass-fiber-rein-
forced epoxy-phenolic resin, are chosen for this work.
The chosen strain gages (gage length: 3.18 mm; grid
width: 3.18 mm; nominai resistance: 350 O) are ali from
the same lot. The adhesive used to bond the strain gages
is a two-component solvent thinned epoxy phenolic
which, for long-term measurements, has a temperature
range from -269 to 260°C, and is utilized in accordance
with the manufacturer's recommendations. Gage terminals
and high-temperature leadwires are spot welded to
connectors that are fixed to specimens by welding anchor
A quarter Wheatstone bridge using a three-wire lead
system is used. The leadwire has a 0.4-mm diameter and
approximately 0.2 m of the 1.0-m wire length is in the
temperature chamber. The leadwires are twisted so that
each wire sees the same temperature environment.
The gages are connected to a digitai strain meter after
they are cured and post cured. Three complete tempera-
ture cycles of 20-250°C (125 percent of the chosen
maximum test temperature) are used to check the stage of
the adhesive cure. The measurement of the gage-insulation
resistance gives a good picture of the mechanicai properties
of the adhesive layer. The resistance between the gage
grid and the specimen is measured at the beginning and
end of each temperature cycle. If the gage installation
exhibits a shift in the zero reading larger than 0.2 percent
of the measured maximum strain,
or if the insulation
resistance is :s; 100M n• the gage is removed and replaced.
When the observed behavior of the 'duplex gage'
instailation does not cause reasonable doubts, it is
connected to an automatic system illustrated in Fig. 3.
The system components, for strain-gage measurements,
include: (l) a strain-gage conditioner, linearity: ±0.05
percent; (2) an IEEE-488 programmable switch control
unit, the mechanicai switches have low thermal offset
(:S 4 p. V at the end of their life); (3) an IEEE-488 program-
mable digitai voltmeter, accuracy: ± (0.002 percent + 3
counts); and, finally, an IEEE-488 controller.
The locai temperature at the 'duplex gage' location is
monitored by a chromel-alumel thermocouple spot-
welded to the specimen area examined by the gages. The
thermocouple, see Fig. 3, is connected to an ice point and
an IEEE-488 programmable digitai voltmeter, accuracy:
Ice point
strain gage
  ~ l = = = = = = = = = = = ~
Controllar   ~ l = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = ~
232 • September 1992
IEBE 488
Fig. 3-Schematic of the
experimental setup
± (0.02 percent + 40 counts). The temperature data are
collected by the controller via an IEEE-488 bus.
The program allows for data acquisition, data processing
(i.e., the calculation of the local surface temperature of
the specimen, T4 ,, evaluated by the 'duplex gage'; the
comparison with the value T .. measured by the thermo-
couple), data storage and plotting.
The specimens are heated in a thermoregulated oven
that uses forced convection. The room-temperature
condition is taken to obtain the zero for the strain
readings. The room temperature varied over a range of
about 18-25°C. The initial and final test temperatures are
30 and 200°C respectively. The tests are carried out in
increments of l0°C with a heating rate of approximately
0.05 °Cjminute. To assure a uniform temperature distribu-
tion in the specimen, data are recorded 10 minutes after
reaching the selected temperature.
The tests are repeated ten times for each specimen and
the results are reported as mean ± standard deviation
values (T4 , ± SD T4 ,). The value of standard deviation
/''•,______________ -- Duplex goge
•.. ------- Duplex goge J2
/r·--' '···-••• ---- Duplex goge 3
5 ____ /// , ' ·---------------.
, ... ""'
............... _,
Fig. 4-Differences between the temperatures measured
by duplex gages and thermocouple as a function of the
temperature measured by the thermocouple


Q) 4

-- Duplex goge
------- Duplex goge 2 •
---- Duplex goge 3 /
i'.......... ,:'
l ........................................................ "'... ,,, ................
l ______ ./
l , --,
, ...! , .... _________ ,' ', .... ________ ,'
,i' ,'
,:----' ,,---
l' ,
.... 50
Fig. 5-Standard deviation associated with the
temperature measured by duplex gages as a function of
the temperature measured by the thermocouple
[percent of maximum strain value]
is calculated in accordance with the more conservative,
i.e., larger definition.
The results are summarized in Figs. 4 and 5. In Fig. 4
the differences between the mean temperature values,
T4,, obtained by the 'duplex gage' and the values measured
by the thermocouple, T,., are indicated. In Fig. 5 the
standard deviation as a function of temperature is shown.
Examination of these figures shows that 'duplex gage' l
and 3 show a similar tendency. The maximum difference
between the thermocouple reading and the 'duplex gage'
reading lies in the range of 3-5°C with the standard
deviation being s 5° C. On the contrary, 'duplex gage' 2
shows significant temperature differences ( s 14 o C) and
standard deviations ( s 10°C}. This unsatisfactory behavior
appears to be caused by one of the two gages that exhibits
a zero-shift as is shown in Table l.
The transducer presented can be used to obtain the
temperature during the strain measurement without the
use of specific temperature systems (thermocouples, etc.).
The temperature can be obtained by recording and reduc-
ing the contemporary data from two strain gages. One
gage has its thermal characteristics matched to the
specimen materia]. The second gage has highly mismatched
thermal characteristics.
A comparative examination of theoretical and experi-
mental results shows satisfactory agreement. The per-
formances of the transducer can be improved by a deeper
knowledge of the behavior of the specimen and gage
materials as a function of temperature. This refinement
will be introduced in a forthcoming research project that
uses a thermoregulated oven capable of assuring a spatial
gradient s 0.1 o c.
l. Poore, W.K. and Kesterson, K.F., "Measuring the Thermal Exptzn-
sion oj Solids with Strain Gages, " J. Test. and Eva/., ASTM. 6 (2)
98-102 (1978). ' '
  Anon.," "Measurement of Thermal Expansion Coefficient Using
Stram Gages, Measurements Group Technical Notes (1986).
3. Chalmers, G.P., "Materials, Construction, Performance and
Characteristics, " Strain Gage Techno/ogy, App/ied Science Publishers
4. Dal/y, J. W. and Riley, W.F., Experimental Stress Analysis,
McGraw-Hi/1 (1978).
Experimental Mechanics • 233