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The Measurement Shop Force Gauges Next to an Aeroplane

How Do You Measure Force? A Measurement Shop Guide

Force is a measurable physical phenomenon. Understanding and measuring force is one of the main goals of the study of physics – Newton’s Three Laws of Motion attempt to explain how force influences movement. So, how do you measure force? Luckily, there’s no need to understand how force truly works to measure it.  This blog will discuss how to use a force gauge and why force measurement is so important.

What is Force?

force and motion demonstration

Force, as defined by the Cambridge Dictionary, is the influence that causes a change in movement. For example, consider kicking a football against a wall: upon contact, it bounces back. This is because the football exerts a force against the wall, causing the ball to change trajectory. The initial movement of the football towards the wall is also a result of force, originating from the swing of your foot.

What is a Force Gauge?

A force gauge is a device that, with the help of a load cell, can accurately record the force exerted by an item and convert the data into Newton increments. A force gauge may have an internal load cell, in which case you would use the force gauge itself to test force, typically by hanging an item from a hook attached directly to the gauge. Some offer an external load cell, connected to the gauge via an adapter. When you apply the force to the load cell, whether it's tensile or compression, it sends an electrical signal to the gauge so you can easily read the results. 

How Do You Measure Force with a Force Gauge?

If you freely suspend an item from a hook, you'll only measure the force caused by gravity and the item's weight. If you’re looking to measure how much force an item can withstand before it weakens the integrity and/or breaks (aka its tensile strength), you can attach another force below to pull it down. 

Another way to do this is available if your force gauge offers other attachments in addition to a hook, allowing you to test, for example, how much force it takes to puncture an item. If you’re using an external load cell, you’ll also be able to test compressive force. You can do this by applying force directly onto the load cell, or even squeezing it.

can crushed by compression

If you and your friend pull a Christmas cracker, this is an example of tensile force. Manufacturers designed the cracker to only tolerate gentle pulling on either side before breaking (its tensile strength). Squeezing a fizzy drink can with your hand until it crumbles is an example of compressive force.

The Force Measurement Process

Depending on which force gauge you use, the process may be different, so we’ll go through the basic process of using one of the force gauges sold on our site. In this case, let’s take Sauter’s advanced FS Digital Force Gauge. However, please keep in mind that reading these general directions does not replace carefully reading the manual before operation.

FS Digital force gauge with load cells

The FS Digital Force Gauge offers ten models that can measure between 20N (~2.02kg of force) and 500N (~51 kg of force). You can connect the FS to as many as four external load cells at the same time. You can hold it freely, or you can connect it to a test stand.

  1. Turn your force gauge on.
  2. Tap Measurement on the touch screen.
  3. Press the START/STOP button to display the measured values of the connected sensors.
  4. Tare measuring channels to clear the weight of the sensors.
    1. To set a single channel to zero, click with the touch pen on ->0<- to the right of the displayed channel.
    2. OR - Press and hold the button for at least ->0<- for 3 seconds to set all connected sensors to 0.
  5. Set your preferences, such as set sampling frequency or peak setting to record only the highest result.
  6. Apply a tensile or compressive force to the load cell.
  7. Measured values will be stored at your set sampling frequency.
  8. Save your readings.
  9. Repeat!

Why Might You Need to Measure Force with a Force Gauge?

What are the practical applications of force measurement? There are quite a few, but we’ll focus briefly on four:


In manufacturing processes, force gauges are frequently used to test product quality and safety. A great example is the handbrake in your car. Think about the times you’ve used your handbrake. I bet it wasn’t too easy, or too difficult. In the automotive industry, the ease of use is carefully cultivated by frequently measuring the amount of force necessary to move the handbrake during production. A handbrake that’s too easy to move and one that’s too difficult can be extremely dangerous while driving.


Hopefully you’re rarely, if ever, concerned about the structural integrity of your home, roadways, work location, or other common man-made structures you interact with daily. This is because during their construction, the materials used have been tested using force gauges to make sure they’re sturdy and safe for use.

Construction site

Steel, for example, is much stronger than aluminium. It would take much more force to bend steel than it would take to bend aluminium. Steel, therefore, is one of the major components in bridges and skyscrapers, both of which need to be able to handle a significant amount of weight. Aluminium is often used in these constructions as well, but a bridge or building solely made from aluminium would not last long at all. 


Even if you’ve never flown on an airplane, you know that a lot goes into keeping that bird in the air. Much of it includes balancing and opposing the force caused by the weight of the plane itself as well as the force that the outside air is enacting against the plane. Since passenger planes are traveling at an average of 500 miles per hour, that force is quite a bit. The materials of the plane need to be able to withstand this force easily, without strain, so they’re measured by a force gauge to guarantee that they’re strong enough.

Sports Equipment

Have you ever seen a tennis ball hit so hard that the force breaks the racquet? It’s rare, mainly because the racquets have been extensively tested with tools like force gauges to make sure they can withstand hitting a ball at extreme speeds while still being pliant enough for power and spin.

In a similar vein, have you ever seen a powerlifter lift so much weight that the bar bends? It may bend, but it doesn’t break. This means that the manufacturer’s performed intense force testing to help guarantee the safety of the weight and powerlifters who might be using it.

Our Top Force Gauges

Before you choose a force gauge, you need to understand what capacity and readability you require. Capacity is how much force the gauge can accurately measure, while the readability is how many increments the results will show on the display.

What is force measured in? Force is measured in Newtons and Kilo-Newtons. For those new to force measurement with a force gauge, Newtons (N) and Kilo-Newtons (kN) can be hard to wrap your head around. We’ll provide approximately equivalent measurements in kilograms of force (kgf) as well.

FH-M Digital Force Gauge (External)

FH-M Digital Force Gauge (External)

Capacity: 1kN – 100kN (102kgf – 10,197.2kgf)

Readability: 0.5N – 50N (0.05kgf – 5.1kgf)

The FH-M Digital Force Gauge offers models with the highest capacity on our site. With the FH-M you get a peak hold setting as well as real time and statistical analysis. FH-M models offer a sample rate of 2000Hz.

FA Mechanical Analogue Force Gauges

FA Mechanical Analogue Force Gauges

Capacity: 10N – 500N (1.02kgf – 50.98kgf)

Readability: 0.05N – 2.5N (0.005kgf - 0.255kgf)

The FA Mechanical Analogue Force Gauge is the only analogue option on The Measurement Shop. It’s an affordable solution for lower-force measurement. The FA offers the unique feature of displaying loads in both Newtons and kilograms and comes with five attachments in addition to a hook.

FS Digital Force Gauge

FS Digital Force Gauge

Capacity: 20N – 500N (2.04kgf - 50.98kgf)

Readability: 0.004N – 0.1N (0.0004kgf – 0.01kgf)

Used as our example earlier in the blog, the FS Digital Force Gauge is a new, modern solution for force measurement. It offers the unique ability to connect to four external load cells at the same time, with a 16GB memory to save all your data.


 Click here to see our selection of force gauges for force measurement. Do you have any questions? Contact our team for help.


Next article How Does a Load Cell Work?