Glossary

This helpful list contains terminology used frequently in the weighing industry, along with easy-to-understand explanations. New information is updated regularly, so make sure to visit often.

A

Accumulation

A weighing function that allows the device to total multiple weighing results.

Accuracy

These terms are often used interchangeably to indicate how well a scale displays the correct results. Accuracy is the ability to display a value that matches the ideal value for a known weight. See also: Resolution, Increment, Readability

Ambient Conditions

The environmental conditions (temperature, humidity, pressure, temperature, etc.) of the area surrounding the load cell.

Analytical Balance

A balance that weighs very small quantities in very tiny increments. Usually refers to sub-milligram weighing results.

Animal Weighing

Some balances and scales feature a mode to allow accurate measurement of living animals that might move during weighing. The scale works out an average weight based on the force exerted by the animal over an extended period of time. Once the internal calculation is completed by the balance, it will hold the value. See dynamic weighing.

Auto Zero Tracking

Display automatically zeroes to adjust for slow drift or changing environments.

B

Backlit Display

The Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) of some balances is designed to have a backlight for easy reading of weighing results.

Balance

A weighing machine. The terms scale and balance are often used interchangeably. Historically a balance was a device that determined mass by balancing an unknown mass against a known mass as with a 2 pan assay balance. In modern weighing machines balances are usually of the design that uses a force restoration mechanism to create a force to balance the force due to the unknown mass. See also: Scale

Battery Powered

The balance or scale are said to be battery powered when the units are operated using batteries. The battery powered units are portable and hence are often suitable for field applications.

Baud Rate

The speed of communication when using the RS-232 interface. The greater the number the faster the data is sent between 2 devices. Usually balances use 300 to 9600 baud.

Below Balance Weighing

To determine the specific gravity of a sample, below balance weighing is needed. The sample is tied to a wire attached to the under-hook of a balance and immersed into the liquid to know the weight of the sample in that liquid.

Body Mass Index (BMI)

Measure of body fat that is based on adult height and weight. BMI is calculated by dividing a person's weight in kilograms by the square of their height in meters (kg/m2).Categories include underweight, normal, overweight and obese.

C

Calibration

The procedure to force the scale to display a certain value for a known standard mass. Then any other mass will be determined using the standard as the reference.

Calibration Mass

A mass of known value that meets certain standards and is used to calibrate a balance to ensure accuracy.

Capacity

The maximum weight that can be placed on the scale or balance.

Checkweighing

To compare a weight against limits to determine if the weight is within preset limits.

Compact Balance

A small digital balance (usually portable) used for basic weighing tasks.

Creep

Change that takes place in load cell output while under load, and with all environmental conditions and other variables remaining constant. Creep usually is measured with rated load applied and expressed as a percent of rated output over a specific duration.

D

Date

The balances can be programmed to display and print the date on which the weighing operations were carried out.

Density Determination

Using a balance to determine the density of material, either solids or liquids. (Density is the grams/cubic centimetre). If a solid material is used it is weighed in the air and when suspended in a liquid. The density can be determined either manually or in some balances by using special software. To determine the density of a liquid a special float of known volume is weighed in air and in the liquid.

Digital Filters

Filters can help reduce the influence of draft or vibration, enabling the balance to display a stable reading more quickly.

Divisions

The number of increments in weight that a scale offers. See increments.

Drift

Gradual change in the readout of a weighing instrument at a constant load.

Dynamic Weighing

A mode featured on some balances and scales for weighing moving animals or measuring fluid samples. The device works out an average weight based on the force exerted by the animal or sample over an extended period of time. Once the internal calculation is completed by the balance, it will hold the value. See Animal Weighing.

E

EC Approved

EC (European commission) approvals are required in the UK and Europe for weighing scales for buying and selling goods by weight.

Eccentric Loading

The ability to display the same value when a weight is placed anywhere on the weighing platform. Tested by weighing in the center of 4 quadrants on the platform. Also called eccentric loading or shift test. See also: Off Centre Loading

External Calibration

The calibration process of a balance using a known external weight often referred to as suggested calibration weight.

F

Force Restoration

A method to determine an unknown mass by balancing the force due to the mass with another force created by the system using coils mounted in a magnetic field. Also called Servo motor or force motor.

Formulation

Formulation, also referred to as the recipe calculation function, is a selectable weighing mode on precision and analytical balances that allows the user to easily store, add and calculate the weight of multiple ingredients in order to provide a total weight value.

G

GLP

Good Laboratory Practice or GLP generally refers to a system of management controls for laboratories and research organisations to ensure the consistency and reliability of results. The laboratory balances facilitate GLP Print outs with traceability in terms of date, time, balance ID number, etc.

GLP/GMP Printout Capability

Program that provides a specific set of information on the balance and the sample weight, in conformance with Good Laboratory/Manufacturing Practices.

I

Increment

These terms are often used interchangeably to indicate how well a scale displays the correct results. Increment is the value of the finest division of the scale. See also: Accuracy, Readability, Resolution

Indicator

Device on which weighing or counting results are displayed. The scale or balance often can be programmed for a variety of applications and weighing units using software accessed via the indicator.

Ingress Protection (IP) Rating

The IP rating classifies the degree of protection against the intrusion of solid objects such as dust and water. It provides specific information about a scale's washdown ability, or if it can be used in a wet or dusty environment.

Internal Calibration

The calibration process using an internal weight available inside the balance for automatic calibration as on when desired by the user.

Internal Rechargeable Battery

The digital balances are often powered from an internal battery which is re-charged when it is connected to the main power supply.

L

Leveling

The procedure to set the balance so the platform is horizontal. This gives the balance a position that is repeatable so the results will be the same if the balance is moved. This is done using levelling feet.

Linearity

The ability of a scale or balance to show the correct value throughout the weighing range. Usually tested by placing known weights on the balance from near zero to full capacity.

Load Cells

A load cell is a specialist transducer that is used to convert force (weight) exerted onto it into measurable electrical output. Load cells are used in many types of industrial machinery and equipment, however they are most often used in weighing scales. See also: Strain Gauge Load Cells

M

Mass

Mass is a physical property of a material. The mass gives a material weight when gravity pulls the material toward earth. The units of mass are gram and kilogram. The terms mass and weight are often used interchangeably.

A set of procedures that can be followed to change the characteristics of a balance. The menu is made up of a number of options, called parameters, that can be set at the factory or in some cases by the user.

Moisture Analyser/Moisture Balance

A weighing device that quickly measures samples before and after drying to determine moisture levels. Suitable for a variety of industries, moisture analysers are used in product development labs to test foods and pharmaceuticals, or to assess the moisture content in sludge during the wastewater treatment process.

Moisture Determination

Balance function that calculates moisture percentage by comparing an initial sample weight to the same sample’s weight after drying.

Multiple Weighing Units

In reference to a weighing scale or balance that has more than one weighing unit. See Weighing units. See also: Weighing Units

N

Net Total Formulation

Balance function that automatically adds the individual weights of several components and displays the total.

Net Weight

Weight of the load on the pan minus the container (tare) weight.

NTEP

The National Type Evaluation Program (NTEP) sometimes referred to as NIST, is an evaluation procedure used in the USA for certifying that a scale or balance is legally approved for buying or selling goods by weight.

O

Off-center Loading

The ability to display the same value when a weight is placed anywhere on the weighing platform. Tested by weighing in the center of 4 quadrants on the platform. Also called eccentric loading or shift test.

OIML

OIML (International Organization of Legal Metrology) is a regulatory body that develops model regulations and standards for use by legal metrology authorities and the weighing industry.

P

Parameter

A set of procedures that can be followed to change the characteristics of a balance. The menu is made up of a number of options, called parameters, that can be set at the factory or in some cases by the user. See also: Menu

Parts Counting

Using a scale to determine the number of parts placed on the platform based upon the average piece weight. the piece weight is either entered by the user or determined by weighing a sample on the scales.

Percent Weighing

Using a balance to determine the weight of an item as a percentage of a reference weight.

Precision Balance

A balance used to weigh quantities to a very precise number, usually up to one milligram. Precision balances come in a wide variety of capacities and pan sizes.

R

Readability

These terms are often used interchangeably to indicate how well a scale displays the correct results. Readability is the value of the finest division of the scale. See also: Accuracy, Increment, Resolution

Repeatability

The ability to display the same value when a weight is placed on a scale more than one time. Often expressed as a standard deviation of 5 to 10 tests. Also called reproducibility.

Reproducibility

The ability to display the same value when a weight is placed on a scale more than one time. Often expressed as a standard deviation of 5 to 10 tests. Also called reproducibility. See also: Repeatability

Resolution

These terms are often used interchangeably to indicate how well a scale displays the correct results. Resolution is the value of the finest division of the scale. See also: Accuracy, Increment, Readability

RS-232

A method of sending data over wires. Often used to communicate between balances and printers or computers.

S

Scale

A weighing machine. The terms scale and balance are often used interchangeably. Historically a scale was a device that displayed weight by measuring a deflection, such as a spring scale. In modern weighing machines scales are usually using springs or strain gauge load cells. See also: Balance

Security Bracket

A bracket integrated with the balance to physically lock the balance to secure it from theft or re-location.

Shift Test

The ability to display the same value when a weight is placed anywhere on the weighing platform. Tested by weighing in the center of 4 quadrants on the platform. Also called eccentric loading or shift test. See also: Off Centre Loading

Specific Gravity

Using a balance to determine the density of material, either solids or liquids. (Density is the grams/cubic centimetre). If a solid material is used it is weighed in the air and when suspended in a liquid. The density can be determined either manually or in some balances by using special software. To determine the density of a liquid a special float of known volume is weighed in air and in the liquid. See also: Density Determination

Stability

A scale is stable when the results do not change after a weight has been added to the platform.

Stable indicator

A display that shows when the balance has determined the value displayed will no longer change.

Strain Gauge Load Cells

A method to determine mass using a mechanical component that is slightly bent by the addition of an unknown mass. the amount of bending is measured by special resistors mounted on the load cell.

T

Tare

To set a display to show zero weight. This is used to remove the weight of any packing or containers so that only the weight of the material within the container is shown. The Tare value is deleted from the remaining weight that can be added to a scale. For example if a scale has capacity of 500g and then 200g is tared, the remaining capacity is 300g. Often Zero is used interchangeably.

Tare Weight

The weight of a container or package that is excluded when weighing a sample.

Temperature Compensation

The ability to correct any errors introduced to the weighing system due to changes in temperature. Usually this correction is done in software on precision balances and within the load cells of less accurate scales.

Time

The balances can be programmed to display and print the time at which the weighing operations were carried out.

Totalization

The ability of a balance to store the total weight from a number of weighings.

Triple Beam Balance

A mechanical balance that uses counter weights to determine an object's mass.

W

Weighing

To find the weight (mass) of an unknown against a standard known mass.

Weighing Units

The balance can be set to display the weight of an unknown mass in various weighing units such as Grams, Kilograms, Milligrams, Pounds, Ounces, Carats, Grains, Newtons, etc.

Weight

The weight of a object is the result of gravity pulling a mass toward earth. When a balance has been calibrated using a known mass then any unknown mass placed upon the scale will have a weight proportional to the known mass. The units gram and kilogram are often used to describe the weight of on object. It is common for mass and weight to be used interchangeably. A weight can also be any mass that is used, for example to put a weight on the scale.

Z

Zero

To set the display to show zero weight. Used to reset the zero condition of a scale when small amounts of material are on the platform. Zero does not take away from the capacity of a scale. However it will only work in a very small range around the original zero condition for the scale. Zero and Tare are often combined on one key, the terms are often used interchangeably.