Encoders measure angles, positions and paths of machines and vehicles reliably
Encoders or also rotary encoders are based on the same principle as potentiometers. With a rotate motion they measure angles, positions and paths. In contrast to potentiometers, the encoders deliver digital output signals that are converted into electrical signals. There are incremental and absolute encoders to record changes to angles and determine positions. Incremental (rotary) encoders measure angular values using periodic patterns. They are available in two versions; with a magnetic or with an optical scanner. Encoders with optical scanners have a rotatable code disc with line-shaped holes. These are illuminated by an LED. A so-called optoelectronic element converts the light into an electrical signal.
A light-dark signal is created due to the holes. The pattern that this creates looks like a sinus curve due to the rotation of the code disc. Each angle of an object is determined by a field factor using encoders with magnetic scanners. The factors are converted into incremental signals by the sensor.
Absolute rotary encoders report the precise position compared to the incremental encoders. They deliver these immediately after switching the machine and also after a power failure. Here the scanning is also performed magnetically or optically. Absolute rotary encoders provide a decisive advantage compared to incremental encoders when used in machine tools, such as CNC milling machines.
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Encoders for precise measurements in the manufacturing industry
Encoders are used in all areas of industry, however, mainly in the manufacturing industry. There they are used in lathe, milling or CNC machines, engines and further devices. Automation is becoming more and more prevalent in production processes in the manufacturing industry. What used to be laborious manual work is now produced by machines and robot arms. Encoders report the angle changes of the individual joints and the positions of robot arms to the control units.
Machines that measure and cut lengths of materials, determine the predefined length using encoders. The rotary encoders are connected to a measuring wheel. These transmit a signal, which the control unit converts in proportion to the distance travelled. This way the precise length is determined and the material, such as foils, fabrics, paper or metal are cut at the correct position. The winding of the steel cables of elevators are checked using encoders and transmitted to the control unit. This calculates the distance already travelled and the position of the elevator. A similar principle is applied to locks. The encoders measure the position of the gates so that the control unit can monitor and control the closing and opening procedure.
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Absolute encoders are always advantageous when the determination of the reference points is difficult or not at all possible. They are also first chose when the return travel to the last starting position would be too time or cost-intensive. The position would get lost in the event of a machine failure with an incremental encoder, while this is immediately visible with an absolute encoder and the production can continue. If the precise information is not required, then an incremental encoder is the encoder type to choose, since these are more cost-effective and smaller and also have a longer service life. Should you have any further question regarding encoders, feel free to contact us at ALDERS and we will be pleased to advise you on the suitable products for your application.
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