All About Strain Gauges

Posted on November 27, 2023 wiliam david Aerospace

In the world of process control and sensor technology, strain gauges–or strain sensors–play a vital role. Mechanical forces, such as tension, compression, and shear, can be measured and monitored using these devices. This blog will explore the fundamental basics of strain gauges, their principles of operation, their applications in pressure transducers, and their relevance in various industries.

Strain gauges work on a simple yet ingenious principle: detecting changes in electrical resistance caused by mechanical deformation. A resistance wire or a metallic strip is usually used to accomplish this. Applied mechanical forces, such as tensile forces, cause the strain gauge to stretch or compress, altering its shape, and consequently, its electrical resistance. Since this change in resistance is directly proportional to the magnitude of the applied force, strain gauges are classified as sensitive sensors that frequently measure mechanical strain.

Strain Gauges in Pressure Transducers

In pressure transducers, strain gauges are commonly used. A pressure transducer converts pressure, often in the form of hydraulic or pneumatic pressure, into an electrical signal that can be measured and monitored. A strain gauge is a crucial component of these transducers, converting mechanical deformation into an electrical signal.

In a typical pressure transducer, a flexible diaphragm is subjected to the pressure of the fluid or gas to be measured. As the pressure increases or decreases, the diaphragm experiences mechanical deformation. This deformation, in turn, induces strain on the strain gauge attached to the diaphragm. The strain gauge responds by changing its resistance, which is then translated into an electrical signal. This electrical signal can be further processed and calibrated to provide an accurate pressure measurement.

Bridge Circuits and Strain Gauge Accuracy

To enhance the sensitivity and accuracy of strain gauge-based pressure transducers, they are often configured in bridge circuits. Bridge circuits are electrical circuits designed to measure small changes in resistance with high precision. One of the most common bridge configurations used in strain gauge-based transducers is the Wheatstone bridge.

Wheatstone bridges are made up of four resistive arms connected in a diamond shape. Typically, two arms of a strain gauge consist of strain gauges, while the other two arms consist of precision resistors with known resistance values. When mechanical deformation occurs which changes the resistance of the strain gauges, the bridge circuit becomes imbalanced. As a result of this imbalance, an electrical output is produced, typically in the form of voltage.

Using bridge circuits and strain gauges in pressure transducers allows for excellent sensitivity and precision. Engineers and scientists use these devices in a wide range of fields, including industrial automation, automotive engineering, aerospace, and material testing. Process control applications use pressure transducers that rely on strain gauge technology for monitoring and controlling hydraulic and pneumatic systems.

Applications of Strain Gauges

The use of strain gauges is not limited to pressure transducers, as they also find utility in a wide array of applications where the measurement of mechanical deformation is crucial. For instance, strain gauges are used to monitor and control the structural integrity of bridges, buildings, and pipelines. In addition to assessing the safety of materials and structures, it also ensures that they can withstand the conditions of their intended use.

For collision test dummies in automotive engineering, strain gauges are employed to measure the forces exerted on them. The data collected here is invaluable for improving the design and safety of vehicles.

Additionally, strain gauges are embedded in critical components of aircraft and spacecraft, such as wings, fuselages, and landing gear. As a result, engineers can continuously monitor the mechanical stress and strain on these components, ensuring the safety and reliability of aerospace systems.

In material testing, strain gauges help researchers and engineers determine mechanical properties of various materials, such as metals, composites, and polymers. Using controlled mechanical forces, they can gain insight into material behavior under stress, leading to advancements in material science and product development.


In summary, strain gauges are a fundamental part of process control and sensor technology. Their ability to convert mechanical deformation into measurable electrical signals, combined with the precision of bridge circuits, makes them indispensable in a wide range of applications. Whether it is transducers for industrial automation, infrastructure inspection, or improving vehicle safety, strain gauges play a crucial role to ensure safety, reliability, and efficiency in a variety of engineering and industrial processes.

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