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Rotary Encoders

Rotary encoders are sensors that are used to detect the movement or position of a rotating shaft. 

Automation has become very common in manufacturing and production, so investing in control systems can help to improve output and precision, even with a smaller workforce. 

Sensors are important for continuous data collection. Rotary encoders are a good example of this. But what are they and how do they work?

What Are Rotary Encoders?

Rotary encoders are sensors that are used to detect the position and movement of a rotating shaft. These sensors are used to convert the rotational motion into signals that transmit to the main PLC system. Here, an algorithm is used to process the data gathered and turn it into the correct response. 

The encoders use a diverse mix of sensor technologies, depending on which is most suitable for the needed use. 

They’re useful in commercial and industrial design and are needed in small and large platforms including photographic lenses and radar applications.

rotary encoder

How Do Rotary Encoders Work?

A rotary encoder has several contact zones that are distributed evenly within a disk and linked to two contact pins, A and B, and to a common pin, C. 

During rotation, the A and B pins make contact with pin C, which generates output signals. The rotated position is then determined based on the outputs given by the signal’s pulses. 

If the direction of rotation is needed, the focus of the encoder shifts to the signals of both pins at the same time.

What Are Rotary Encoders Used For? 

Shaft encoders are used in all mechanical systems. The sensors are most commonly found in industrial settings that need to deal with very delicate work, repeatable tasks, and prototyping that requires an output with high precision. 

Encoders are also needed in the medical industry in order to enhance high precision, safe, and accurate tests and treatment. For example, rotary encoders are used in MRI scanning and CT machinery to make sure images are precise and patients are safe.

In technical application, such as CNC machines, absolute encoders offer any needed positioning data. Each axis of motion comes with a full set of rotary encoders and actuators in order to ensure accuracy in the machining tool’s position. 

Rotary sensors are also often used in the manufacturing industry to automate some tasks. In robotics, these sensors are used to enhance the accurate positioning, direction, and speed of any moving parts.

What Types Of Rotary Encoders Are There?

Rotary encoders come in several different types. The most common ones are absolute and incremental sensors.  They are an essential part of the automation process. By using the right sensors for the job, you can maintain accuracy and precision.

Incremental encoders are used to measure positional changes instead of the absolute position. Usually, sensors like this measure the changes from 0 after power have been restored and usually offer a continuous stream of data.

Absolute encoders can be used to measure the absolute position of the shaft. These encoders don’t rely on a point of reference. They are often used to give data on direction, position, and speed.

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