Ultrasonic sensor for $159
Take a sensor technology, figure out how to reduce the cost, and create a whole new market for it. That was the philosophy behind the development of Hyde Park Electronics' new SM300 Series ultrasonic proximity sensor, says Chief Engineer Randy Ray. "The perception is that ultrasonic technology is costly, and we wanted to change that mindset. At under $160, the SM300 is approaching the top end of the photoelectric and metal proximity range, putting ultrasonics within reach of the cost goals of many engineers." The sensor's major advantages are its extended sensing range of 2 inches, detection of most materials including metal, clear glass and plastic, and small 12-mm diameter. Ray believes it is the smallest sensor available with this range. The company has just recently introduced an unpackaged version of the sensor—targeted at OEM machine builders looking for ultrasonic capabilities without the cost.
vision get closer
The new PresencePLUS pixel counting sensor, introduced earlier this year by Banner Engineering, bridges the gap between vision systems and sensors. The camera-based sensor captures a 256-level gray-scale image of a defined area, converts it to white and black pixels, and makes a pass/fail determination. "Traditional vision systems start at $5,000 and go up from there," says Visions Systems Engineer Mark Lampert. "A PresencePLUS system, including microprocessor, controller, lens, and mounting system, sells for about $1,600." Engineers were able to lower the cost, says Lampert, by converting to CMOS technology and simplifying the output. To do the same thing with photoelectric sensors would require an entire array of them—at added cost. PresencePLUS is targeted at a variety of inspection line applications, including date-code presence, product orientation, complete-case verification, and tamper-proof seal inspection.
without the cost
Omron's $1,350 F10 C50 is a gray-scale pattern matching system with a pass/fail output capability that gives engineers vision capabilities without high cost. A sibling to the F10 C30, the new C50 adds memory capability and a communications port. "There's always been a kind of stigma about vision systems—that they are complex," says Mark Sippel, vision product specialist. "With the F10 C50, we're offering a product that has one-button teaching. It doesn't get much easier than that." The system works by pointing a visible light source at a target—much the way a photoelectric operates—eliminating the need for a monitor. But unlike photoelectrics, it measures the entire image—reducing the potential for errors. It works equally well, says Sippel, with glass or plastic items.
less than 1 micron
SAIA-Burgess Electronics coupled an inductive sensor measuring in at 20 mm long with a 38-mm long amplifier to form a new precision switch for sensing metal targets. The IPS05/4608KS inductive sensor senses out to 0.9 mm±10% (for mild steel targets) and 0.35 mm for aluminum objects. The company says repeatability is excellent and "the hysteresis of better than one micron is the smallest on the market." Both the sensor and amplifier bodies are stainless steel for ruggedness and tough environmental conditions. The limit switch is rates 5V dc±5% with a power consumption of less than 10 mA. Output current is 100 mA; output logic NPN; and the switch is normally open.
In addition to its $2,995 cost, the SmartReader from DVT features an optical-character reader (OCR) tool that offers accuracy in less than ideal industrial conditions. According to DVT Applications Engineer Ruben Lanz, "options in the robust, patented thresholding algorithms" can account for character voids and flaws, poor lighting, or inconsistent backgrounds. He says that four intensity algorithms are available to find the best light/dark threshold to distinguish between background and a part. If that isn't sufficient, Lanz notes, then a gray-gradient algorithm uses 256 levels of gray and determines the rate of change in intensity to detect a target. SmartReader also has built-in communications capability, such as Ethernet and Modbus, to archive data to a computer or, with the optional SmartLink communications module, allow monitoring inspections "on the fly" via a display screen. The SmartReader does OCR, barcode, and data matrix interpretation for industries such as automotive, packaging, and pharmaceuticals.
With the OJ series of photoelectric sensors, ifm efector has put features such as automated setup and calibration, and signal strength monitoring in housings of only 15/16×13/4×7/16 inch. Ernie Maddox, product manager, says "Our ability to get the performance into such a small package is due to a new microprocessor. An 8-bit processor allows us to reduce component count by 50% with a smaller overall circuit." Also contributing to size reduction is having the EPROM within the microprocessor, "which coupled with our film technology," adds Maddox, "allows rolling the circuit up into a small housing." The visible red LEDs or laser light sources used in the OJ family are much smaller than previous devices, he notes, further cutting overall sensor size. Also receiving raves from users, says Maddox, is the flexible, removable, quick-disconnect mounting system. Such flexibility in adjustment, he concludes, takes maximum advantage of the package's ability to do front or side sensing (with laser ranges up to 32 ft for a 2-mm target). The devices are geared for sensing small objects on assembly lines with a 2 kHz switching speed for high-speed applications.