A sensor is an important part of any measurement device that collects data from the physical environment and converts it into an electrical signal for providing inputs to a device. Position sensors are a type of sensor that is used in many systems like injection molding machines, drive-by-wire cars, fly-by-wire aircraft, medical equipment, packaging machines, bullet trains, and much more. To better understand the function of position sensors, in this blog, we will discuss what a position sensor is, its types, advantages, and disadvantages.
There are many types of position sensors, including capacitive displacement sensors, eddy current sensors, hall effect sensors, inductive sensors, and many others. For example,capacitive displacement sensors are non-contact devices that are utilized for measuring the high-resolution position and position change of a conductive target. It is also used for measuring the thickness or density of any non-conductive material. On the other hand, eddy current sensors offer high resolution, high linearity, and high-speed measurements. They work based on the principle of eddy current formation for detecting displacement. Meanwhile, hall effect sensors are used for detecting the presence and magnitude of a magnetic field by using the Hall Effect method, and can be applicable in multiple applications like proximity sensing and positioning.
Moving on, Inductive sensors work on a contactless principle, are highly reliable, and are very durable, which is why they are used in harsh and aggressive environments to deliver steady signals. Whereas linear variable differential transformers are used most frequently as electromechanical sensors and are mainly used for mechanical motion or converting vibrations, especially rectilinear motion.
Unlike the aforementioned sensors, potentiometers utilize linear or rotary position sensors along a resistive track with damped wipers for efficiently gauging displacement. Meanwhile, cable extension transducers are linear position sensors used for measuring huge position ranges with the help of a cable and a spring-loaded pool. Ultrasonic sensors are another type of position sensor that detect and generate ultrasound energy. Ultrasonic sensors are used for the reliable position detection and continuous, precise measurement of distance for liquids, powders, and solids.
In addition, fiber-optic position sensors use optical fibers and photodetectors arranged at the endpoint of every fiber to measure the displacement of objects. Magnetostrictive position sensors, on the other hand, are also known as non-contact linear position sensors as they produce no friction and are unaffected by vibrations. A string potentiometer is a type of position sensor used for measuring and detecting velocity and linear position. Proximity sensors are used for detecting the presence of nearby objects in a no-contact manner.
While magnetostrictive sensors are heavy-duty and accurate for long lengths, they lack accuracy for small lengths and are susceptible to temperature changes. Magnetic and hall effect sensors are not very sensitive to liquids; however, both sensors are easily interrupted by magnetic materials and stray electrical wires. Additionally, they are responsive to impact. Meanwhile, rotary variable differential transformer (RVDT) and linear variable differential transformer (LVDT) sensors are highly accurate and are durable in harsh environments. Though, they are known to be heavy, bulky, and expensive. Potentiometric sensors are high in precision and are inexpensive but are sensitive to extreme temperatures and have high wear and tear.
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