Encoders: Types and Their Applications

When it comes to monitoring or controlling motion, encoders play a significant role. However, because there’s more than one kind of motion, you can select the appropriate encoder accordingly. With the information provided, you’ll gain insight into three primary types: magnet linear encoders, exposed linear encoders, and optical linear encoders.

These three examples of encoders all achieve the same goal, although they go about it differently. Simply put, these encoders record movement metrics. They also communicate with them in a way that allows adjustments to the monitor, whether by a human or control system.

As for what constitutes motion, that consists of speed, direction, and distance. Keep in mind that encoders fall into one of two categories. The first category comprises linear encoders, and the second consists of rotary encoders. The linear kind measures straight-line motion. In comparison, a rotary type of encoder measures rotational movement.

Magnet Linear Encoders

This particular encoder is multi-layered. Included is a flexible base layer, which has an adhesive backing. Used for absolute positioning, people rely on magnet linear encoders for a variety of applications. The following are some examples:

  • Automated storage and retrieval systems
  • Conveyors
  • Elevators
  • Food handling equipment
  • Machine tools
  • Medical equipment
  • Packaging machines
  • Robotic systems
  • Servo motors
  • Solar panels
  • Values and flow metering
  • Web and sheet offset presses
  • Wind power

Exposed Linear Encoders

Exposed linear encoders have either a scale tape or scale along with a scanning head. Using a photoelectric scanning method that’s both wear-free and touch-free is advantageous for some industries. This type of encoder detects graduation lines measuring only micrometers in width. They also produce output signals over short periods.

Overall, they’re used on equipment and machinery that require high measurement accuracy. That includes microscopes, comparators, and measuring equipment.

Some of the applications specific to exposed linear encoders include:

  • High-accuracy machine tools
  • Measuring and production equipment used by the semiconductor industry
  • PCB assembly machines
  • Ultra-precision machines (i.e., grinding machines, diamond lathes, and facing lathes)

Optical Linear Encoder

Last but not least are optical linear encoders, which have become increasingly more popular. In this case, the encoder is an electromechanical device. That means it produces an electrical signal output that’s in proportion to the linear displacement of the input shaft’s angular position. Then, via a motion controller or digital readout, the signal converts into a position reading.

Optical linear encoders also serve multiple purposes. Some of their applications are:

  • Digital presses
  • Handling and test equipment for the semiconductor industry
  • Machine tools
  • Pick and place PCB assembly equipment
  • Printers
  • Robotics
  • Wire bonders

Rely on a Trusted Source for Encoders

For accurate motion measurements, you want to buy quality linear encoders. At Maintenance Diagnostic Systems, Inc., we can accommodate your needs. Contact a company representative today.