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The unit kilogram-force (kgf) or kilopond (kp) is defined as the magnitude of the force exerted on one kilogram of mass by a 9.80665 m/s2 gravitational field (standard gravity, a conventional value approximating the average magnitude of gravity on Earth). So one kilogram-force is by definition equal to 9.80665 newtons.[1][2] Similarly a gram-force is 9.80665 millinewtons (or 0.00980665 newtons), and a milligram-force is 9.80665 micronewtons (or 9.80665×10 −6 newtons).

The kilogram-force has never been a part of the International System of Units (SI), which was introduced in 1960. The SI unit of force is the newton.

Prior to this, the unit was widely used in much of the world; it is still in use for some purposes. The thrust of a rocket engine, for example, was measured in kilograms-force in 1940s Germany, in the Soviet Union (where it remained the primary unit for thrust in the Russian space program until at least the late 1980s), and it is still used today in China and sometimes by the European Space Agency.

It is also used for tension of bicycle spokes, for torque measured in "meter-kilograms", for pressure in kilograms per square centimeter, for the draw weight of bows in archery, and to define the "metric horsepower" (PS) as 75 metre-kiloponds per second.[1]

The gram-force and kilogram-force were never well-defined units until the CGPM adopted a standard acceleration of gravity of 980.665 cm/s2 for this purpose in 1901, though they had been used in low-precision measurements of force before that time.

A tonne-force, metric ton-force, megagram-force, or megapond (Mp) is 1000 kilograms-force.

The decanewton or dekanewton (daN) is used in some fields as an approximation to the kilogram-force, being exactly rather than approximately 10 newtons.

Units of force
(SI unit)
dyne kilogram-force,
pound-force poundal
1 N ≡ 1 kg·m/s² = 105 dyn ≈ 0.10197 kp ≈ 0.22481 lbf ≈ 7.2330 pdl
1 dyn = 10−5 N ≡ 1 g·cm/s² ≈ 1.0197×10−6 kp ≈ 2.2481×10−6 lbf ≈ 7.2330×10−5 pdl
1 kp = 9.80665 N = 980665 dyn gn·(1 kg) ≈ 2.2046 lbf ≈ 70.932 pdl
1 lbf ≈ 4.448222 N ≈ 444822 dyn ≈ 0.45359 kp gn·(1 lb) ≈ 32.174 pdl
1 pdl ≈ 0.138255 N ≈ 13825 dyn ≈ 0.014098 kp ≈ 0.031081 lbf ≡ 1 lb·ft/s²
The value of gn as used in the official definition of the kilogram-force is used here for all gravitational units.
Three approaches to mass and force units
System Gravitational Engineering Absolute
Force (F) F = m·a F = m·a/gc = w·a/g F = m·a
Weight (w) w = m·g w = m·g/gc ≈ m w = m·g
Units English Metric English Metric English Metric
Acceleration (a) ft/s2 m/s2 ft/s2 m/s2 ft/s2 m/s2
Mass (m) slug hyl pound-mass kilogram pound kilogram
Force (F) pound kilopond pound-force kilopond poundal newton


  1. ^ a b NIST Guide for the Use of the International System of Units (SI) Special Publication 811, (1995) page 51
  2. ^ BIPM SI brochure, chapter 2.2.2.


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