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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.

lntroduction

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

1

•

2

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

T.

,, = 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)

(2)

from which the measured strain becomes

E,=

[ , , F ~ { J ... -o:,)] I:J.T + (; ) E

(3)

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

(4)

w h ere

[

'Y• + F,([3 ... - a,) ]

Er1 = F !:!.T

(5)

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

(6)

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. ) €

2

(7)

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

(8)

which can be written as

(9)

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

(10)

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

E

..........

E

"'

l

o

c

o -1

l...

....

VJ

....

c

e

o

a..

a..

<(

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

1;10

1.06

1.00

..........

t.. 0.110

0.111!

T,

T (

OC)

emperature

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

mm

3

) 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

clips.

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,

3

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

conditioners

~ l = = = = = = = = = = = ~

Controllar ~ l = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = ~

232 • September 1992

IEBE 488

BUS

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

15

''

/''•,______________ -- Duplex goge

•.. ------- Duplex goge J2

/r·--' '···-••• ---- Duplex goge 3

10

5 ____ /// , ' ·---------------.

, ... ""'

2

l--

l

"'

"O

1---1

............... _,

Fig. 4-Differences between the temperatures measured

by duplex gages and thermocouple as a function of the

temperature measured by the thermocouple

12

,-...

()

"'

c

o

:+:;6

o

·;;:

Q) 4

"O

o

"O

-- 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

TABLE 1-DUPLEX GAGE #2: ZERO-SHIFT VALUES OF

THE STRAIN GAGE COMPENSATED FOR TITANIUM

SILICATE

Test

#1

#2

#3

#4

#5

#6

#7

#8

#9

#10

Zero-shift

[percent of maximum strain value]

o

1.1

2.8

3.2

4.6

5.9

9.3

9.7

10.6

11.2

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.

Conclusions

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.

References

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

(1983).

4. Dal/y, J. W. and Riley, W.F., Experimental Stress Analysis,

McGraw-Hi/1 (1978).

Experimental Mechanics • 233

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