Rotary Sensor
Science / Technology

Rotary Sensor Technology and Applications

There are different types of sensors for different applications. Sensors are usually categorised by the movement they measure. For example, linear sensors are meant to measure rectilinear displacement. Angle sensors, on the other hand, measure the degree of movement at an angle. With rotary position sensors, they are designed to be placed in rotary motors in order to track shaft movement. There are many commercial and industrial uses for rotary sensors. They can be found anywhere from consumer electronic devices and robotics to conveyor belts.

Types of rotary sensors

Rotary sensors can also differ depending on the intended application.

  • Incremental rotary encoders. Typically applied to induction motors. It is also necessary when relative position needs to be determined or measured.
  • Absolute rotary encoders. They are designed to produce a different binary output for each position in order to determine the absolute position of the shaft. It is also often used in conjunction with brushless motors.

There are also different parameters used to classify a rotary position sensor such as form factor, ruggedness, and level of resolution. Today’s technology has made strides in the development of advanced sensor devices that are able to perform even in the harshest environment.

Technology used in rotary sensors

The fabrication and manufacture of rotary sensors differ according to the technology used in production. Here are the different rotary sensor technologies used today:

  • This technology is more traditional and rarely seen today. This sensor has copper tracks around the circumference which are used to encode information. It also utilizes a contact brush for sensing areas that are conductive.
  • Light shines through slits in a glass or metal disc that goes onto a photodiode. This is one of the most common technologies used in rotary sensors today. One downside is its sensitivity to dust.
  • On-axis magnetic. This type of sensor can be attached directly to the shaft. This makes it ideal for applications in motors that only have one shaft.
  • Off-axis magnetic. This employs ferrite magnets that are bonded with rubber. This makes the design more flexible and ideal for many applications.

The versatility of rotary sensors also means that they can be used in severe conditions. There are rotary sensors that can be submerged to great depths and still be able to produce an accurate reading. Some commercial applications for this technology are in determining the displacement and position of vehicles, detecting the position of steering wheels, and detecting the position of pedals.

Most manufacturers and suppliers have a wide inventory of rotary sensors compatible with many industrial and commercial applications. You can also have a sensor customised to the specifications you need. Although not all suppliers offer customisation, you can find manufacturers that give customers this option, while maintaining the same quality and robustness of design.



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May 28, 2018