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1. Definition: A strain gauge is a device used to measure the strain on a free surface of a structure.

Strain gages are the preeminent tool in stress analysis. Strain gauges of all types are essentially employed to measure the linear deformation over a given gauge length. The sense the change in length, Magnify and indicate it in some other form. Strain Gauge is invented by Edward E Simmons and Arthur C Ruge in the year 1938.
2. Classification of Strain Gauges Depending up on the magnification system, the strain gauges are broadly classified as under, a. Mechanical strain gauges b. Electrical strain gauges c. Optical strain gauges d. Acoustical strain gauges

2.1 Mechanical strain gauges: Mechanical strain gauges are also known as Extensometers used to measure static or gradually varying load conditions. These gauges are usually provided with two knife edges which are clamped firmly in contact with the test component by means of a clamping spring at a specific distance of gauge length. When the specimen under testing is strained the knife edges undergoes displacement, this displacement is amplified by a mechanical linkages and the strain is displaced on a calibrated scale. Types of Mechanical strain gauges 2.1.1 Berry Strain gauge This strain gauge uses a lever magnification with dial indicator to show magnified motion. It consists of one rigid frame and two conically pointed contact pointers. One pointer is rigidly fixed to the frame while the other is pivoted at a point on the frame. The displacement in the lever is magnified and indicated in the dial indicator.

2.1.2 Huggenberger Extensometer: This extensometer has a set of compound levers which are relatively small in size and high magnification factor. These gauges are highly accurate. The movable knife edge rotates the lever at lower pivot; the lever in turn rotates the indicator pointer at upper pivot point with the help of a link.

2.1.3 Johansson Extensometer: This extensometer uses tension tape or twisted metal strip between two knife edges. Half of the strip is twisted to one direction and remaining half is twisted to other direction and a pointer is fixed at the center of the strip. On application of load, displacement in the movable knife edge takes place with high amplification due to stretching of twisted metal strip.

ELECTRICAL RESISTANCE STRAIN GAUGE: In electrical resistance strain gauge the displacement or strain is measured as a function of resistance change produced by the displacement in the gauging circuit. When the conductor is stretched, its length will increase and area of cress section will decrease this will result in change in resistance. Change in resistance per unit strain is defined as Gauge Factor. Gauge factor indicates the sensitivity of the strain gauge. Types of electrical resistance strain gauges Electrical resistance strain gauge with metallic sensing element may be broadly classified in to four groups.
a. b. c. d. Un-bonded wire strain gauge Bonded wire strain gauge Foil strain gauge Weldable strain gauge

a) Un-bonded wire strain gauge: The principal of the un-bonded metallic strain gauge is based on the change in electrical resistance of a metallic wire due to the change in the tension of the wire. This type consists of a stationary frame and a movable platform. Fine wire loops are wounded around the insulated pins with pretension. Relative motion between the platform and the frame increases the tension in two loops, while decreasing tension in the other two loops. These four elements are connected approximately to a four arm Wheat stone bridge. These type strain gauges are used for measurement of acceleration, pressure, force etc.

b) Bonded Wire Strain Gauge: The bonded metallic type of strain gauge consists of a strain sensitive conductor (wire) mounted on a small piece of paper or plastic backing. In us this gauge is cemented to the surface of the structural member to be tested. The wire grid may be & flat type or wrap-around. In the flat type after attaching the lead wires to the ends of the grids, a second piece of paper is cemented over the wire as cover. in the wrap-around type, the wire is wound around a cylindrical core in the form of a close wound helix. This core is then flattened & cemented between layers of paper for the purpose of protection and insulation. Formerly only wrap-around gauges were available, but generally flat grid gauges are preferred as they are superior to wrap-around gauge in terms of hysteresis, creep, elevated temperature, performance, stability & current carrying capacity.

c) Foil Strain Gauges: The foil type of strain gauges has a foil grid made up of thin strain sensitive foil. The width of the foil is very large as compared to the thickness (microns) so that larger area of the gauge is for cementing.

d) Weldable Strain gauge: Weldable strain gauges are easy to install in minutes in any environment compared to bonded type strain gauge. The weldable strain gauge consists of a strain sensitive element, the nickel Chromium or platinum Tungsten, housed within a small diameter stainless steel tube. The strain element is insulated from the tube with highly compacted ceramic insulation. This gauge is subsequently spot welded to structure under test and provides bonding to transfer the strain. The test specimen which is put into tension or compression, the stress is transmitted through the weld to mounting flange and in to strain tube. These gauges can be used for static or dynamic applications.


The optical strain gauges are used to measure elongation as well as deflection; following are the two types of optical strain gauges,

a. Martens optical gauge

b. Tuckerman Optical Gauge

Martens optical gauge:

These optical stain gauges employs variety of mirror systems to obtain optical magnification. The well known optical system used in a strain gauge on a single mirror system is martens optical gauge.

The pivoted knife edge carries a mirror and the other end of this arm is fastened to specimen as the specimen elongates the measuring knife edge will rotate about its point there by tilting the mirror. The Reflection of the illuminated scale in this mirror is viewed through the telescope.

Tuckerman Optical Gauge:

In this instrument, the relative rotation between the fixed mirror and the movable mirror is measured with autocollimator. The autocollimator consists of a lamp source to produce parallel beam of rays and a scale to measure the deflection of the reflected ray. A tungsten carbide rocker (lozenge) acts as a moving knife; one face of this lozenge is polished to act as a mirror.

If the specimen deforms, rotates the lozenge which in turn deflects the incident ray back to the reticule. Actually three images are visible on the reticule one gives the measurement of strain and other two helping alignment of the gauge. The sensitivity of the gauge is 2 micro strains and this gauge is available with a wide range of gauge length of 6mm. it can measure both static and dynamic strains and cyclic strains up to 180 Hz.

Pneumatic strain gauge:

The principal of operation of a pneumatic gauge depends upon the relative discharge of air between a fixed orifice and a variable orifice. Magnification up to 100,000 times and the gauge length as small as 1mm are possible to achieve by these gauges. These gauges are suitable for both Static and dynamic strain measurements. These are sensitive, robust and reliable.

Acoustic strain gauge:

In an acoustic strain gauge the variation in length of a wire stretched between two gauge points is measured which alters the natural frequency of the wire. The magnitude of frequency change for a strain gauge can be increased by decreasing the length of the wire or stress in wire. These gauges are highly accurate and long term reliable. Optical strain gauges are used to measure strains in concrete structure, concrete dams, rock, steel structures etc.