Pressure Sensors - Frequently Asked Questions

What is a pressure sensor? 

The term pressure sensor includes a wide variety of different mechanical devices for distinct kinds of pressure measurement.  

Most pressure sensors (commonly referred to as pressure transducers) often have a diaphragm interfacing with pipes or tubes to measure the pressure of a gas or fluid.

A tactile pressure sensor measures load forces across an array to quantify the pressure distribution between two surfaces.

What is a piezoresistive pressure sensor? 

A piezoresistive pressure sensor relies on the piezoresistive effect that calculates a change in electrical resistance when a mechanical strain is applied.

When a load is placed on a piezoresistive sensor, electronics can measure the resistance change within the thin film sensor and correlate that to a pressure value.

How is a tactile pressure sensor constructed? 

Pressure mapping sensors that capture pressure between surfaces are known as tactile array sensors. These thin, pressure-sensitive resistors are built with intersecting rows of conductive material, with a layer of pressure-sensitive material at each intersection. The resistance change is collected in scanning electronics in real-time. 

This video shows how pressure mapping sensors are made, and how they collect pressure data. 

Where do you use a tactile pressure sensor? 

Tactile pressure sensors are commonly used as instrumentation in test and measurement applications. They can also be found in manufacturing areas for quality control or embedded in systems to provide feedback to the controller.

Tactile sensor applications include: 

  • Contact pressure distribution In product design and manufacturing 
  • Any force verification between two components 
  • Calibration and quality control 
  • Clinical research 

Read More on Pressure Mapping Technology

How do you choose a tactile pressure sensor? 

For measuring surface pressure and load, you need the right type of sensor for your application. 

The correct sensor specification needs to meet all the criteria for the correct size and shape, pressure range, sensing element density, operating environment, and adjustable sensitivity. 

Read more on Selecting a Pressure Sensor 

How durable are tacile pressure sensors?

The lifetime of a thin, flexible pressure sensor will depend on several variables including the environmental conditions to which it is exposed, the interface materials, and the type of force applied (ex: direct force is preferable to shear force). Over time, the individual force sensing elements can begin to vary in sensitivity. An equilibration device may normalize the sensing elements and extend sensor life.

Read more on equilibration and pressure sensor replacement


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