Strain Gaged Gripper Jaws for Space Flight Mission.

Collecting samples from Mars and bringing them back to Earth is a historic undertaking that starts with the launch of NASA’s Mars 2020 rover. The rover will collect samples and leave them ready for a future mission to retrieve and return to Earth.

The future stages of Mars Sample Return involve the collaboration of NASA and the European Space Agency to develop a lander, a fetch rover, an ascent vehicle to launch the sample container to Martian orbit, and a retrieval spacecraft for carrying the samples to Earth.

The robotic gripper jaws shown are used for picking up the Martian environmental samples previously obtained, bagged and left on the Martian surface. The gripper jaws gather and stow the samples for the flight home. The bridge design uses gage sampling with bridge completion circuits which allows for a minimum number of strain gages. The gage readings are interrogated multiple times using different bridge completion circuits to make a completely moment balanced load cell design in multiple axis. Stress-tek selected, bonded and wired the gage assembly at our facilities in Kent, WA.

About Stress-tek (

Stress-tek has extensive experience in the design and manufacturing of strain gage based sensors and load cells, applying strain gages to element bodies and providing stress analysis services. It has complete in-house capability in engineering, machining, assembly, and testing. 

Stress-tek was founded in 1978 to provide professional consulting services in the areas of strain gaging, transducer design, and experimental stress analysis. Since then they have evolved to designing and manufacturing of custom and high volume weighing, force measurement, pressure, and deflection sensors requiring accuracy and reliability. The result is an extensive line of shear beam load cells, bending beam load cells, shear pin load cells, tension and compression load cells, deflection transducers, hydraulic and air pressure sensors. Stress-Tek, also designs and manufactures digital, two-wire electronics to integrate with our load cells and sensors to provide complete solutions.

In 2015, Stress-tek became part of Vishay Precision Group, Inc. (VPG), an internationally recognized designer, manufacturer and marketer of sensor and sensor-based measurements systems specializing in the growing markets of stress, force, weight, pressure and measurement. VPG is a market leader of foil technology products, providing ongoing technology innovations in precision foil resistors and foil strain gages, which are the foundation of the company’s force sensors products and its weighing and control systems.


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Bill Zimmerman

Vulcan Scales | Stress-Tek | VPG :