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Tape tension measurement solution

05 September 2019

TTS Systems has provided a solution for a customer wanting to measure tension in a 25mm wide tape as it is wound onto a specially-shaped production mandrel. The process required the applied tension to be varied as the component is wound.

TTS System adopted a back-to-basics approach: Measure the tension in the tape as close to the production part as possible; keep the transducer’s roller diameter to a minimum so as not to damage the tape; and use a highspeed analogue load cell amplifier, to give real time feedback to the control system

The final solution involved a custom-designed roller with a standard transducer element and housing. The roller is 50mm wide, with a 38mm diameter at the outside edges and 37mm in the centre. This naturally pushes the tape to the middle of the roller. The design capacity was 25kg force. Using foil strain gauges in a full wheatstone bridge configuration, a nominal output of 0 to 20mV with a 10 VDC excitation can be achieved. 

The output signal is processed using the DCA-10 loadcell amplifier. Whilst a dual channel unit, it works just as well with only one measurement input. DIN rail mounted operating from a 24VDC power supply, the DCA-10 provides to two independent 0 to 10 VDC analogue outputs that can be used by the control system and a local digital display. 

Speedy set up and calibration is always important, the DCA-10 has two push buttons and eight information LEDs. Zero calibration is done with no load on the transducer, with the push of a button. Then a known load is then applied to the transducer using a flexible load tape to hang a 25kg weight on, the Span calibration is then completed. There is also an option to set the calibration data via the RS485 communications port, however in practice most engineers use the push buttons.

The calibrated high-level signal from the measurement system can now be used in one of two ways – with a dedicated tension controller designed to provide a simple local machine control solution or a PLC to offer greater programming and control capabilities. In this case our customer has a very good PLC engineer, who understands both their product’s construction and how to run the machine.

So, after a short commissioning period, the customer’s machine is now winding tape 15% faster than before and with the improved tension profile control during production the quality of the end product has increased.

Providing solutions

The company has been designing tension transducers, loadcells, instrumentation and controllers since 1998. It manufactures in the UK and can custom engineer bespoke solutions to meet exacting application needs.

Its products are extensively used with paper, foil, film, tape, plastics, rubber, in fact any material on a roll or reel that is processed through an automated machine can have its tension measured and controlled. 

When used in a closed loop control system, the measured signals can be used to regulate the speed of the drive, brake or clutch thereby ensuring constant material tension throughout the process. 

Working with System Builders, OEMs and End Users TTS Systems provides knowledge, technical support and back up to its UK and European customers through direct staff and distribution partners. 

More information at: www.tts-systems.com