"In applications like semiconductor
and electronics machinery, grippers, counting and sorting, and other
applications that are implemented in a compact machine environment, detecting
metallic targets smaller than 3 mm can be a significant challenge," says David
Rubinski, product manager for Pepperl+Fuchs. "The new miniature proximity
sensor fits into our family of small sensors and provides an industry standard
3-mm diameter solution that can detect smaller targets."
The new sensor offers a longer sensing
distance than previous units which only had a 0.6 mm range. It's designed for
small equipment where the targets, geometries and the machine components are
very small and there isn't a need for a lot of distance. The longer 1-mm sensing
range provides flexibility because the sensing face doesn't need to be coupled as
closely to the target material.
Rubinski says that for applications with
small targets, users also generally need a smaller diameter sensor because,
even though larger sensors will have larger sensing distance, they are not the
best for tiny targets.
Designers need to match an application with
small targets to a sensor that can detect the smaller target size. The user can
specify a larger sensor with longer sensing range, but it might not reliably see
the target. Because of the energy in the coil system, it's important for
engineers to match the sensor to the application and the target size they are
"The goal is overall reliability and getting
accurate, consistent readings," Rubinski says. "We have a 3-mm sensor that
offers a smooth barrel and a 4-mm sensor with a threaded barrel for
applications where it is an advantage to thread the sensor into the equipment."
Another issue to consider is the target
material type because these sensors are generally designed to detect mild steel.
Because the sensing ranges are so short in distance, material selection is an important
factor in getting the proper range because if the application requirement is sensing
a non-ferrous type material such as aluminum, the maximum sensing distancing
could be much smaller.
Generally target applications for the miniature proximity sensors are smaller, densely packed
equipment where size is a critical constraint on applying the sensor.
designing the new unit, the focus of the development effort was extending the .6-mm
That unit is still used in applications where
a longer sensing range is not required. Another application would be a slide
table where the tolerances are tight, so there are very small inaccuracies in the
targeting position because the sensor is right up against the sensing face. The
design of the machine guarantees that the tolerances are precise.
The new proximity sensors offer an
all-stainless-steel housing, LED indication and a 2-m PUR cable. They also
provide three-wire, 10-30V dc connectivity, have a maximum switching frequency
of 1,300 Hz, and are available with normally open NPN or PNP outputs.
University of Southampton researchers have come up with a way to 3D print transparent optical fibers like those used in fiber-optic telecommunications cables, potentially boosting frequency and reducing loss.
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