In the design of automation equipment everyone is looking for an edge. How can I make parts faster or easier or safer? I’m sure you don’t encounter the need for 360 degree rotation everyday; but when you do, it can become a pain to maintain sensor and actuator information or even a network connection.
There are two different ways to maintain your connection in a rotation application:
Radial Connections: These are usually the simplest way to connect to sensors and devices on a rotating fixture or tooling. Usually there are stationary points in the rotation, either a workstation or a function is automated and requires the fixture to not move for a short time. A mechanical pin connector is used to make a physical connection at the station to get the signals across the rotation. The problem with radially mounting the connections is that while the rotation is in motion, the connections are not usually made.
Axial Connections: These are usually the best solution for continuous rotation or the need for 100% signal continuity over the rotational movement. Usually solved using a slip ring system with mechanical contacts, the connections are mounted on the axis of rotation. While useful, slip rings can add up in cost as the signal count goes up and they are difficult to maintain long term. Sometimes, depending on the application, you may not have direct access to the axis of rotation itself. This is one of the more challenging applications in an engineer’s designs. But it doesn’t have to be.
A non-contact connector solution allows for both styles of problem solving without the hassles and maintenance of mechanical connections. These devices utilize inductive fields to send power and signals across a short airgap. Both of the illustrations above demonstrate how this technology could be implemented. Take a look at our offering of non-contact connectors here.
How do you solve your 360 Degree Rotation applications? Do you use slip rings? Do you use something else? Let me know.