What You Need to Know About Rotary Encoders

In today’s day and age, you need to efficiently and quickly perform the measurement of mechanical shafts on rotating instruments such as motors. In the past, companies have relied on analog methods like rotating switches and potentiometers. But now, companies are using tools that can digitize the movement of the rotary. Rotary encoders have many differences, and when you are using one type, you need to be able to accurately interpret its output.

What Is the Role of an Optical Rotary Encoder?

A rotary encoder is a type of sensor that can measure how much a mechanical shaft rotates. This shaft might be on a motor, and you might be measuring the rotational speed or the angular position. You might also use a rotary encoder to look at the angular position of an electronic control or a knob or dial.

Uses of Encoders

You might choose to use an encoder in a control system. This can help to provide feedback on a mechanical part. It will confirm that the part is moving correctly compared to the control. Whether you have a robotic or an automatic device, an encoder will help the microprocessor sense what it needs to. Older technology can only sense part of the shaft’s rotation, but rotary encoders can look at the entire rotation.

An encoder will then convert the mechanical displacement to an electrical signal. A processor nearby will interpret it. Based on the tool’s output, you can determine the rotational speed and rotational direction. Because you have a digital output, it is easier to read and evaluate the data.

Benefits of a Mechanical or an Optical Rotary Encoder

An optical rotary encoder offers the highest level of resolution out of all the types. You can find optical encoders at different price points, including for low-end applications. However, one of the downsides is that they can be bulkier.

A mechanical encoder uses a rotating disk that has concentric rings in it. These rings have patterns of insulated and conductive areas. A stationary wiper contact will move over the disk and contact each of the rings. When the tool moves over the disc, the contact will break if it moves over an insulated area or will happen when it moves over a conductive area. This creates a digital pattern for each of the rings.

Choose One of the Top Rotary Encoder Manufacturers

You might have an interest in using rotary encoders at your own facility. If this is the case, then you will want to choose a source that works with the world’s leading brands. Maintenance Diagnostic Systems, Inc. is one such company. We offer encoders from Heidenhain, one of the top rotary encoder manufacturers. Contact us today to learn more about these quality encoders.