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Mechanical Measurement & Instrumentation

Reading Material Pressure Measurement

Defination Pressure

Pressure (symbol: p or P) is the force applied perpendicular to the surface of an object per
unit area over which that force is distributed. Pressure is a scalar quantity.



is the pressure,
is the normal force,
is the area of the surface on contact.
Units of Measure

System Length Force Mass Time Pressure

MKS Meter Newton Kg Sec N/M2 =


CGS CM Dyne Gram Sec D/CM2

English Inch Pound Slug Sec PSI

A Newton is the force necessary to accelerate a mass of 1 kg at a rate of 1 meter
per second per second.
The acceleration of gravity is 9.8 m/sec2
The force due to gravity on a 1 kg mass is 9.8 N is 1 kg weight.
1 Newton is 0.102 kg weight.
1 N/m2 is a very small pressure.
1 atmosphere (14.7 psi, 750mmHg) is approximately 100 kPa = 1 bar.

The pascal (symbol: Pa) is the SI derived unit of pressure, internal pressure, stress, Young's
modulus and ultimate tensile strength, and is defined as one newton per square metre.[1] It is
named after the French polymath Blaise Pascal.
The pascal can be expressed using SI derived units, or alternatively solely SI base units, as:

where N is the newton, m is the metre, kg is the kilogram, and s is the second.

Static, Dynamic and Impact Pressures

Static pressure is the pressure of fluids or gases that are stationary or not in
Dynamic pressure is the pressure exerted by a fluid or gas when it impacts on a
surface or an object due to its motion or flow. In Fig., the dynamic pressure is (B
Impact pressure (total pressure) is the sum of the static and dynamic pressures
on a surface or object. Point B in Fig. depicts the impact pressure.
For more detailed knowledge refer:
Types of Pressure Measurement

1. Absolute Pressure Measurement: Pressure measured relative to perfect vacuum is

termedas absolute pressure. Perfect vacuum is a condition where there is no matter
present in the atmosphere and hence, nil air pressure exists in that region.

2. Differential Pressure Measurement: In differential pressure measurement, pressures of

two distinct positions are compared. For example, pressure difference calculated by measuring
it at different floors of a tall building will give us differential pressure.

3. Gauge Pressure Measurement: It can be defined as a subtype of differential pressure

measurement where we compare pressure at any point to the current atmospheric pressure.

4. Vaccum pressure Measurement: The pressure is referenced to atmospheric pressure and by

convention is measured in the negative direction, i.e. -50 mm Hg.

For more information about the practical applications of pressure measurement visit:




For sample basics test of pressure measurement:

Units used for Pressure Measurement

The number of units being used for Pressure Measurement includes:

1. Pounds per square foot (psf) or pounds per square inch (psi)

2. Atmospheres (atm)

3. Pascals (N/m2) or kilopascal (1000Pa)*

4. Torr = 1 mm mercury

5. Bar (1.013 atm) = 100 kPa

6. 14.696 lbf/in2 equals 33.9 feet of H2O

7. 14.696 lbf/in2 equals 29.921 inches of of Hg

Unit Conversions:

1 psi= 51.714 mmHg

= 2.0359 in.Hg
= 27.680 in.H2O
= 6.8946 kPa
1 bar= 14.504 psi
1 atm. = 14.696 psi

Sensing Elements

A sensing element isany device that receives a signal or stimulus (as heat or pressure or
light or motion etc.) and responds to it in a distinctive manner
For reading in detail about fundamental of pressure sensors visit:

The various types of sensing elements includes:

Bourdon tubes,


capsules, and

bellows .

All except diaphragms provide a fairly large displacement that is useful in mechanical
gauges and for electrical sensors that require a significant movement.

The basic pressure sensing element can be configured as a C-shaped Bourdon tube (A);
a helical Bourdon tube (B); flat diaphragm (C); a convoluted diaphragm (D); a capsule
(E); or a set of bellows (F).
Pressure Sensing Elements
Bellows Gauge

A bellows gauge contains an elastic element that is a convoluted unit that expands and contracts axially
withchanges in pressure. The pressure to be measured can be applied to the outside or inside of
the bellows. However, in practice, most bellows measuring devices have the pressure applied to the
outside of the bellows (see figure).

Most bellows gauges are spring-loaded; that is, a spring opposes the bellows, thus preventing full
expansion of the bellows. Limiting the expansion of
thebellows in this way protects the bellows and prolongs its life. In a spring-loaded bellows element, the
deflection is the result of the force acting on the bellows and the opposing force of the spring.

Although some bellows instruments can be designed for measuring pressures up to 800 psig, their
primary application aboard ship is in the measurement of low pressures or small pressure differentials.

Illustration of Bellows gauge.

Bourdon tube Pressure Gauge


when an elastic transducer (bourdon tube in this case) is subjected to a pressure, it defects.
This deflection is proportional to the applied pressure when calibrated.


The main parts of this instruments are as follows:

An elastic transducer, that is bourdon tube which is fixed and open at one end to receive the
pressure which is to be measured. The other end of the bourdon tube is free and closed.
The cross-section of the bourdon tube is elliptical. The bourdon tube is in a bent form to
look like a circular arc. To the free end of the bourdon tube is attached an adjustable link,
which is in turn connected to a sector and pinion as shown in diagram. To the shaft of the
pinion is connected a pointer which sweeps over a pressure calibrated scale.


The pressure to be measured is connected to the fixed open end of the bourdon tube. The
applied pressure acts on the inner walls of the bourdon tube. Due to the applied pressure,
the bourdon tube tends to change in cross section from elliptical to circular. This tends to
straighten the bourdon tube causing a displacement of the free end of the bourdon tube.

This displacement of the free closed end of the bourdon tube is proportional to the applied
pressure. As the free end of the bourdon tube is connected to a link section pinion
arrangement, the displacement is amplified and converted to a rotary motion of the pinion.

As the pinion rotates, it makes the pointer to assume a new position on a pressure
calibrated scale to indicate the applied pressure directly. As the pressure in the case
containing the bourdon tube is usually atmospheric, the pointer indicates gauge pressure.


They are used to measure medium to very high pressures.


These Bourdon tube pressure gauges give accurate results.

Bourdon tube cost low.
Bourdon tube are simple in construction.
They can be modified to give electrical outputs.
They are safe even for high pressure measurement.
Accuracy is high especially at high pressures.


They respond slowly to changes in pressure

They are subjected to hysteresis.
They are sensitive to shocks and vibrations.
Amplification is a must as the displacement of the free end of the bourdon tube is
It cannot be used for precision measurement.

Types of Bourdon tubes:

1. C-type tube.

2. Spiral tube.

3. Helical tube.

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Diaphragm Pressure Gauge

A diaphragm pressure transducer is used for low pressure measurement. They are commercially available
in two types metallic and non-metallic.

The diagram of a diaphragm pressure gauge is shown below. When a force acts against a thin stretched
diaphragm, it causes a deflection of the diaphragm with its center deflecting the most.

Since the elastic limit has to be maintained, the deflection of the diaphragm must be kept in a restricted
manner. This can be done by cascading many diaphragm capsules as shown in the figure below.

Materials used for the metal diaphragms are the same as those used for Bourdon Tube.
Non-metallic or slack diaphragms are used for measuring very small pressures. The commonly used
materials for making the diaphragm are polythene, neoprene, animal membrane, silk, and synthetic
materials. Due to their non-elastic characteristics, the device will have to be opposed with external
springs for calibration and precise operation. The common range for pressure measurement varies
between 50 Pa to 0.1 MPa.

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Capsule Pressure Gauge

A capsule is formed by joining the peripheries of two diaphragms through soldering or

Capsule gauges are used for low pressure measurement from 16 up to 600 mbar. Our
capsule gauges are completely made of stainless steel and suitable for corrosive
environments and gaseous media that will attack copper alloys.
The main idea behind this pressure sensor is to measure the membrane deflection,
which is linearly dependent to the applied pressure. This mechanical deflection is
being further converted into electrical signal.
This electrical signal is being further interpreted by means of sensor which gives the
final value of the measured pressure.
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Differential Pressure Gauges

Differential pressure is the difference between any two process pressures p1 and p2.
Therefore, differential pressure sensors must offer two separate pressure ports with
tube or threaded connections. First Sensor's amplified pressure sensors are able to
measure positive and negative pressure differences, i.e. p1>p2 and p1<p2. These will
help to measure the difference in pressure between two devices which can be either in
the positive or the negative scale.


Differential pressure sensors are used e.g. in medical devices to determine respiratory
flow or in HVAC applications to control air flow.
The same principle is used in filter monitoring. When the filter starts to clog the flow
resistance and therefore the pressure drop across the filter will increase. Differential
pressure sensors control this pressure drop and trigger an alarm if critical values are

Pressure Gauges

In C type Bourdon tube, a section of tubing that is closed at one end is partially
flattened and coiled.

When a pressure is applied to the open end, the tube uncoils.

This movement provides a displacement that is proportional to the applied pressure.

The tube is mechanically linked to a pointer on a pressure dial to give a calibrated


To amplify the motion that a diaphragm capsule produces, several capsules are
connected end to end.

Diaphragm type pressure gauges used to measure gauge, absolute, or differential


They are normally used to measure low pressures of 1 inch of Hg, but they can also
be manufactured to measure higher pressures in the range of 0 to 330 psig.

They can also be built for use in vacuum service.

Potentiometric type sensor

A mechanical device such as a diaphragm is used to move the wiper arm of a

potentiometer as the input pressure changes.

A direct current voltage (DC) V is applied to the top of the potentiometer (pot), and
the voltage that is dropped from the wiper arm to the bottom of the pot is sent to an
electronic unit.

It normally cover a range of 5 psi to 10,000 psi.

Can be operated over a wide range of temperatures.

Subject to wear because of the mechanical contact between the slider and the
resistance element.

Therefore, the instrument life is fairly short, and they tend to become noisier as the pot wears

Strain Gauge

If a wire is held under tension, it gets slightly longer and its cross-sectional area is
reduced. This changes its resistance (R) in proportion to the strain sensitivity (S) of
the wires resistance. The change in resistance can be suitably calibrated for the
indication of the temperature change.

The strain sensitivity, which is also called the gage factor (GF), is given by: GF = (
R/R)/( L/L) = ( R/R)/ Strain
Bellows Resistance Gauge

Fig. VII.18: Schematic of a Bellows

Resistance Transducer

Figure shows the bellows gauge which is being attached to the attached slider over a variable
resistance device. With the change in pressure inside the bellows gauge the gauge will be deflected
which will result in movement of the slider over the variable resistance. This sliding causes the
change in current flow across the device which can be suitably calibrated to detect the change in
resistance with respect to the temperature change.

Inductance type transducers

This device is used to measure the difference in pressure. The inductance-type transducer
consists of three parts: a coil, a movable magnetic core, and a pressure sensing element. This
type of transducer works based on the principle of induction. The two magnetic cores being
given works for the application of the magnetic field. When two pressure differentials are
being applied the diaphragm will get deflected and will cross the magnetic lines which will
induce the corresponding AC current in the circuit being connected with the diaphragm. With
proper calibration this current can be measured to measure the corresponding pressure


The linear variable differential transformer (LVDT) (also called just a differential
transformer,[1] linear variable displacement transformer,[2] or linear variable displacement
transducer [3]) is a type of electrical transformer used for measuring linear displacement (position). A
counterpart to this device that is used for measuring rotary displacement is called a rotary variable
differential transformer (RVDT).

Piezoelectricity is the electric charge that accumulates in certain solid materials (such as crystals,
certain ceramics, and biological matter such as bone, DNAand various proteins)[1] in response to
applied mechanical stress. The word piezoelectricity means electricity resulting from pressure.

When pressure, force or acceleration is applied to a quartz crystal, a charge is

developed across the crystal that is proportional to the force applied.

Piezoelectric devices can further be classified according to whether the

crystalselectrostatic charge, its resistivity, or its resonant frequency electrostatic
charge is measured.

Depending on which phenomenon is used, the crystal sensor can be called electrostatic,
piezoresistive, or resonant.

Dead Weight Pressure Gauge

9 3
5 8


A cylindrical piston 1 is placed inside a stainless-steel cylinder 2.

The measuring pressure is supplied through the vent 8 to the fluid 4.

The gravitational force developed by calibrated weights 3 can balance this force and the
piston itself..

The balance should be achieved for a certain position of the piston against a pointer 9 of the
stainless-steel cylinder.

A manual piston pump 5 is used to achieve approximate force balance (to increase pressure
in the system), whereas a wheel-type piston pump 6 serves for accurate balancing.

A Bourdon-type pressure gauge 7 is used for visual reading of pressure.