Tekscan technology encompasses sensor technology, data acquisition electronics, and processing and analysis software. Tekscan has numerous patents, copyrights, trademarks, and/ or patents pending supporting our intellectual property claims.
Tekscan manufactures thin-film sensors to measure between any two mating surfaces. The thinness of these sensors is unparalleled in the industry allowing for a true interface measurement.
FlexiForce™ force sensors are paper-thin at .203 mm (0.008 in), lightweight, and flexible. These sensors are available off-the-shelf in a variety of sizes and force ranges that can connect to your own data acquisition electronics. The unique form factor and affordability have made these sensors very attractive to capture force measurements in both test and measurement as well as to product design engineers integrating the sensor.
These tactile potentiometers and/or position sensors are used to identify location or position and adjust output. These sensors are low profile .208 mm (0.008 in) and can measure position between any two surfaces. The low power requirements combined with linear output makes these position sensors ideal from both a manufacturing and user perspective. The sensors are customizable and available off-the-shelf in ring and strip formations.
The extreme thinness and flexibility of a Tekscan sensor enable one to insert it between almost any two mating surfaces. When coupled with our scanning electronics and software, the customer has a unique view of the pressure pattern, map, or distribution between those mating surfaces. At the heart of every Tekscan pressure measurement system is an extremely thin 0.1 mm (0.004 in), flexible tactile sensor. These sensors are grid-based and are available in a wide range of shapes, sizes and spatial resolutions (sensor spacing). Most sensors are capable of measuring pressures ranging up to 25,000 psi or 1,700 bar. Each application requires an optimal match between the dimensional characteristics of the object(s) to be tested and the spatial resolution (pitch) and pressure range provided by Tekscan's sensor technology.
Tekscan provides the highest resolution (finest pitch) matrix-based sensors available on the market. We have designed sensors with 0.635 mm wide and an area of 0.40 mm2
Sensing locations within a matrix can be as small as 0.04 mm2 (0.000064 in2); therefore, a one square centimeter area can contain an array of 248 of these measurement locations. We have created sensors covering 256 square inches (1,600 square centimeters) with over 100,000 sensing locations. Our Virtual Sensor Array (VSA™) allows the user to integrate several sensors into a uniform whole. The areas covered using this method can be significant. The pressure or force information derived from the sensor array is seamlessly displayed on your computer screen.
The standard sensor consists of two thin, flexible polyester or polymide sheets that have electrically conductive electrodes deposited in varying patterns. The inner surface of one sheet forms a row pattern while the inner surface of the other employs a column pattern. The intersection of these rows and columns creates a sensing cell, or Sensel™. The spacing between the rows and columns varies according to sensor application and can be as small as ~0.5 mm. In use, the sensor is installed between two mating surfaces. Tekscan's matrix-based systems provide an array of force sensitive cells that enable you to measure the pressure distribution between the two surfaces.
Matrix sensors (arrays) are available in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. They are also available in various pressure ranges from 0-14 kPa to 0-207 MPa. Custom designed shapes, sizes, and sensitivities are also available. Typical system performance is shown in Figure 1. Resistance of the sensing elements (Sensels) varies inversely with applied load. The system linearizes sensor output into digital counts, or “raw” values on a scale from 0-255. Calibration converts raw values into engineering units, such as psi or kPa.
|Sensor Property||Standard||High Temperature (*Custom Production Run Required)|
|Hysteresis||< 4.5% of full scale||< 3.6% of full scale|
|Drift per log time||5%||3.3%|
|Lag Time||5 µsec||5 µsec|
|Operating Temperature||-40° to 140°F (-40° to 60°C)||Up to 400°F (200°C)|
|Thinness||0.004 in (0.1 mm)||0.008 in (0.2 mm)|
Up to 1,600 per sq. in.
(248 per sq. cm)
Up to 400 per sq. in.
(61 per sq. cm)
Up to 30,000 psi (207 MPa)
(dependent on sensor selection)
Up to 3,000 psi (20.7 MPa)
(dependent on sensor selection)
Tekscan’s interface products employ sophisticated microprocessor based circuitry to control scanning sequence and frequency, adjust sensitivity, and optimize the performance of matrix-based sensors.
Figure 2 illustrates the sensing system and a simplified electrical schematic of the 8-bit electronics (255 levels) that scan the intersecting points of the sensor’s rows and columns and measure the resistance at each crossing point or sensing element (Sensel). The Sensels are read in the presence of multiple contacts while simultaneously limiting the possible current flow through the device. Each Sensel is represented by a variable resistor whose value is highest when no force is applied to it.
Tekscan systems have different options for electronics depending on the application requirements. There are tethered electronics typically using a USB 2.0 connection as well as wireless and/or datalogging capability. These options have differences such as maximum scanning rates and it is recommended you discuss your application requirements with your Account Manager to select the appropriate product.
Tekscan's products function in both static and dynamic measurement environments. Our customers are interested in the temporal development of load profiles and peak load attainment, as well as the relaxation characteristics of materials and interfaces. Each system is capable of sampling thousands of Sensels per second; our standard I-Scan™ system can sample 250,000 Sensels per second. Tekscan also has higher performance systems which sample 100,000 Sensels at 500 Hz - an astounding 50,000,000 Sensels per second!
Tekscan’s high-speed systems are simplified matrices or single load cell configurations. The current maximum sampling rate for an integrated system is 20 kHz in a 44 load cell configuration. This high sampling rate is possible due to the extreme thinness and the relatively high spring constant of our sensor materials (a rise time of less than 20 microseconds). The ability to directly instrument the impact surface greatly enhances overall test accuracy. No other system solution is as adaptable and affordable.
Making this possible is Tekscan’s custom data acquisition electronics and software. The data acquisition software consists of low level sampling control, sensitivity adjustment, and signal processing. This software optimizes the performance of the system in the acquisition of force or pressure data from our matrix-based and FlexiForce sensors.
With its Windows®-compatible software, the Tekscan system is simple to operate. Whether you choose a standard or a custom package, your system will respond quickly to your most important and frequent needs with graphically informative displays and intuitive operations.
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