Force is a central concept in physics, as it is what causes an object to accelerate. There are various units used to measure force, with the most common being the Newton (N), Kilogram-force (kgf), and Pound-force (lbf). These units have rich historical backgrounds, rooted in both scientific discoveries and practical applications. Let’s explore their history, the scientists associated with them, and how they can be converted to one another.
The Newton (N) is the SI unit of force and is named after Sir Isaac Newton, one of the most influential scientists in history. In 1687, Newton formulated the three laws of motion, which laid the foundation for classical mechanics. His second law of motion, $F = ma$, defines force as the product of an object’s mass and acceleration.
A force of 1 Newton is the force needed to accelerate a 1-kilogram mass by 1 meter per second squared.
Newton’s groundbreaking work on gravity and motion revolutionized our understanding of the physical world, and the Newton as a unit of force is a tribute to his immense contribution.
The kilogram-force (kgf) is a unit of force based on the gravitational force exerted by the Earth on a mass of 1 kilogram. It was widely used in various engineering fields before the adoption of the SI system. One kilogram-force is equal to the force exerted by a mass of 1 kilogram under standard gravity ($9.80665 \, \text{m/s}^2$).
The use of kilogram-force has diminished over time as the SI system (which uses Newtons) became more standardized. However, it is still commonly used in some regions, particularly in the mechanical and civil engineering fields.
The pound-force (lbf) is a unit of force in the imperial system, commonly used in the United States. It is defined as the force exerted by gravity on a pound of mass. Just as kilogram-force relates to the gravitational pull on 1 kg, pound-force corresponds to the force of gravity on a mass of 1 pound.
The unit arose from the widespread use of pounds in both commerce and engineering in the English-speaking world. Despite the growing prevalence of SI units globally, lbf remains widely used in engineering and industry, especially in the US aerospace and automotive industries.
To convert between Newtons (N), Kilogram-force (kgf), and Pound-force (lbf), use the following equations:
Newton to Kilogram-force:
$\text{kgf} = \frac{\text{N}}{9.80665}$Newton to Pound-force:
$\text{lbf} = \frac{\text{N}}{4.44822}$Kilogram-force to Newton:
$\text{N} = \text{kgf} \times 9.80665$Pound-force to Newton:
$\text{N} = \text{lbf} \times 4.44822$Kilogram-force to Pound-force:
$\text{lbf} = \frac{\text{kgf} \times 9.80665}{4.44822}$Pound-force to Kilogram-force:
$\text{kgf} = \frac{\text{lbf} \times 4.44822}{9.80665}$Let’s convert 10 Newtons to Kilogram-force and Pound-force:
Convert 10 N to Kilogram-force:
$\text{kgf} = \frac{10}{9.80665} \approx 1.0197 \, \text{kgf}$Convert 10 N to Pound-force:
$\text{lbf} = \frac{10}{4.44822} \approx 2.2481 \, \text{lbf}$Thus, 10 Newtons is approximately 1.02
kgf and 2.25 lbf.
Fig. Screen Shot from CHEMIX School -
Force Conversion Calculator
The calculator you have created consists of 7 editable text fields, each corresponding to a specific force unit. Here's a guide on how to use it correctly:
Input a Value:
Insert a numerical value in one of the text fields. Leave
one field blank where you want the result to
appear.
Ensure Valid Input:
Check that the input values are valid (positive numerical
values). Invalid values (e.g., letters or negative numbers)
may result in errors.
Press Enter to Calculate:
After entering a valid value, click inside the empty field
where the result should appear and press Enter.
The calculator will then compute the conversion and display
the result.
Auto-Clearing Feature:
When you click on any of the text fields, the existing content
will be cleared. You can then input a new value and repeat the
process to calculate the corresponding forces in the other
units.
By understanding the science and history behind these force units, you gain a deeper appreciation for how we measure the forces around us. Whether you're calculating the force exerted by an engine, determining load capacities in engineering projects, or even understanding the forces at play in everyday life, these units and conversions play a crucial role in providing accurate and useful measurements.