The Right Stuff

Measurement science contains many axioms. For me, one stands out; do not unintentionally affect the outcome.  How so?

Not that I would have personal experience or anything, but let’s just say that you are a young engineer, fresh out of college and the president of the company has personally asked you to develop a method for measuring the sheet resistivity of thin rolled foil. You consider the problem and possible solutions and then set out designing a fixture that uses multiple copper fingers closely spaced across both ends of the sheet of foil. Everything is carefully machined and toleranced to exacting proportions to ensure the best data. Then, you connect the finger probes to a battery source and a twelve dollar and ninety cent volt meter, and proudly report results to six significant figures. The president looks at the data, contorts his brow, glances up with a piercing eye and says something doesn’t look right and asks, what instrument did you use? He didn’t need to say anything else!

Solution? Use the right tool for the job. For checking battery voltage at home, a $12.95 ohm meter may work just fine. But for serious measurement work that requires precision and accuracy, a step up in instrumentation is required.

This also holds true for strain measurement. The right tools, whether strain sensors, instruments, or installation accessories not only make the job simpler and more efficient, but also make the data more accurate and reliable, not to mention, defendable. Often it comes down to time. Before choosing a questionable product for your next experimental stress analysis program, ask yourself a simple question; do I have time to run this test over if the data are questionable? If the data and your time are important, then the answer will always be to pick the best available products for the job.

Sometimes, cheap tools are adequate. Most times, it pays to use the best tools available. Next time you have important strain data to capture, a budget and deadline to meet, then consider the strong reputation of Micro-Measurement products. Along with the best applications support in the industry, you are guaranteed measurement success on purpose, not by accident.

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Bob Watson

Director of Engineering