In the last blog post, we learned about the basics of proximity sensor and it’s working. In this blog, we are going to learn about the different types of proximity sensors, their specifications, and how they work.
In this blog, we will learn about the different types of proximity sensors, their specifications, and how they work.
In the last blog post, we learned about the basics of proximity sensors and how they’re working. In this blog, we are going to learn about the different types of proximity sensors, their specifications, and how they work.
The proximity sensors are available in different categories as per their detection. Some proximity sensors are useful to detect materials, whereas others are useful to detect different environmental conditions. Within these classifications, proximity sensor types are as follows:
According to the non-contact object detection method, there are five types of proximity sensors. They are,
- Inductive Proximity Sensor.
- Optical Proximity Sensor.
- Capacitive Proximity Sensor.
- Magnetic Proximity sensor.
- Ultrasonic proximity Sensor.
Let us discuss the basic working principles of these five sensors.
1. Inductive Proximity Sensor
The inductive proximity sensors are useful to detect the metallic object that is present next to their active side. This sensor operates under the electrical principle of inductance, where a fluctuating current induces an electromotive force (EMF) in a target object.
An inductive proximity sensor is a type of non-contact sensor that can detect the presence or absence of metallic objects without physical contact. It operates on the principle of electromagnetic induction and is commonly used in industrial automation and control applications. Here’s how it works:
- Basic Principle: Inductive proximity sensors generate a high-frequency electromagnetic field around the sensor’s active face (typically a coil of wire). When a metallic object enters the field, it interacts with the magnetic field and induces eddy currents within the object. These eddy currents, in turn, create a change in the sensor’s electromagnetic field.
- Detection: The sensor’s internal electronics continuously monitor the electromagnetic field. When a metallic object, such as a piece of metal, comes within the sensor’s detection range, it alters the field, causing the sensor to recognize this change.
- Output: When the sensor detects a metal object within its specified range, it generates an output signal, which is typically in the form of an electrical voltage or current. This signal can be used to trigger various actions or processes in an industrial system, such as stopping a conveyor belt, activating a robotic arm, or signaling the presence of a workpiece.
Inductive proximity sensors are popular in industrial environments because of their many advantages:
- Non-Contact Sensing: They do not require physical contact with the target object, reducing wear and tear.
- Reliability: They are durable and can operate in harsh conditions, including dirty, wet, or dusty environments.
- Speed: They provide fast and reliable object detection, making them suitable for high-speed applications.
- Longevity: Since there is no physical contact, there is minimal wear and tear, which contributes to their long lifespan.
- Insensitive to Non-Metallic Materials: They are designed to detect metal objects and are not affected by non-metallic materials like plastics or liquids.
Inductive proximity sensors have various applications in industries such as manufacturing, automotive, packaging, and material handling. They are used for tasks like detecting the presence of parts on a conveyor belt, measuring the position of objects, ensuring proper alignment, and many other automation and control functions.
2. Optical Proximity Sensor
A complete optical proximity sensor includes a light source and a sensor that detects the light. These sensors detect objects directly in front of them by detecting the sensor’s own transmitted light reflected back from the object’s surface.
An optical proximity sensor is a type of sensor that detects the presence or absence of an object using light. It works on the principle of emitting light (usually infrared) and then measuring the reflection or absence of that light to determine the proximity of an object. These sensors are commonly used in various applications, including industrial automation, robotics, consumer electronics, and more.
Here’s how an optical proximity sensor typically works:
- Light Emission: The sensor emits a beam of light, often in the infrared spectrum. This light can be either continuous or pulsed.
- Reflection or Absorption: When an object is in the vicinity of the sensor, it can either reflect or absorb the emitted light. The sensor detects changes in the light pattern due to the presence of an object.
- Photodetector: The sensor includes a photodetector, which is used to receive the reflected or absorbed light. The photodetector converts this light into an electrical signal.
3. Capacitive Proximity Sensor
The capacitive proximity sensors can detect both metallic and non-metallic targets in powder, granulate, liquid, and solid form. The capacitive proximity sensors use the variance in the capacitance of the sensor to conclude that an object has been detected.
4. Magnetic Proximity Sensor
Based on the mechanical principle, this sensor only detects the magnetic field (e.g., a permanent magnet). They sense the presence of a magnetic object, commonly referred to as the target. The target, characterized by its magnetic field, triggers the switching process when it enters the detection range of the sensor.
A magnetic proximity sensor is a type of proximity sensor that detects the presence or absence of a magnetic field in its proximity. It is often used to detect the presence of ferrous or permanent magnetic objects, such as metals with magnetic properties. These sensors are commonly used in various industrial and consumer applications for position sensing, object detection, and control purposes.
Here are some key points about magnetic proximity sensors:
- Operating Principle: Magnetic proximity sensors typically operate on the principle of Hall Effect or reed switch technology.
- Hall Effect Sensors: Hall Effect sensors use the Hall Effect, which is a physical phenomenon where a voltage difference (Hall voltage) is generated across a conductor when it is subjected to a magnetic field perpendicular to the current flow. By measuring the Hall voltage, the sensor can determine the presence or absence of a magnetic field.
- Reed Switch Sensors: Reed switch sensors use a pair of magnetically sensitive reed switches inside a sealed glass tube. When a magnetic field approaches the sensor, the reed switches make contact, completing an electrical circuit. When the magnetic field is removed, the reed switches open, breaking the circuit.
- Applications: Magnetic proximity sensors are used in a wide range of applications, including:
- Position sensing in industrial machinery and automation.
- Detection of open or closed doors and windows in security systems
- Object detection and counting in conveyor systems
- Automotive applications, such as gear detection and brake pedal position sensing.
- Proximity sensing in smartphones and tablet covers using embedded magnets
- Magnetic proximity sensors are non-contact devices, which means they do not physically touch the objects they are sensing.
- They are highly reliable and durable.
- They can work in harsh environments and are resistant to dirt, dust, and contaminants.
- Magnetic proximity sensors are mainly sensitive to magnetic materials and may not work well with non-magnetic materials.
- They have a limited sensing range, which is determined by the strength of the magnetic field and the sensor’s sensitivity.
- They may be affected by external magnetic interference.
- Variations: Magnetic proximity sensors come in various forms, including inductive proximity sensors (detect ferrous metals) and capacitive proximity sensors (detect non-metallic materials) with magnetic target accessories.
Magnetic proximity sensors are valuable tools for detecting the presence or absence of magnetic objects in a wide range of applications. When selecting a magnetic proximity sensor for a specific application, it’s essential to consider factors like the required sensing range, sensitivity, and environmental conditions to ensure reliable and accurate performance.
5. Ultrasonic Proximity Sensor
Ultrasonic sensors emit an ultrasonic pulse which is reflected by objects in its path and the reflected wave enters the sonic cone. They employ sound waves to detect objects, so color and transparency do not affect them( though extreme textures might).
An ultrasonic proximity sensor, also known as an ultrasonic distance sensor, is a type of sensor that uses ultrasonic waves to detect the presence and distance of objects in its vicinity. It’s a non-contact sensing technology commonly used in various applications, including robotics, automation, and security systems. Here’s how it typically works:
- Transmitter: The sensor includes a transmitter that emits high-frequency sound waves, typically in the ultrasonic range, which is above the range of human hearing (usually between 20 kHz and 65 kHz). This transmitter can be a piezoelectric transducer or a similar device.
- Reflection: Once the sound waves are emitted, they travel through the air until they encounter an object in their path. When the sound waves hit an object, they get reflected back towards the sensor.
- Receiver: The sensor also contains a receiver, which detects the reflected sound waves. The time it takes for the sound waves to travel from the transmitter to the object and back to the receiver is measured.
- Distance Calculation: Using the known speed of sound in the air (approximately 343 meters per second at room temperature), the sensor can calculate the distance to the object by measuring the time it takes for the sound waves to return. The distance is typically calculated using the formula: Distance = (Speed of Sound × Time) / 2.
- Output: The sensor provides the calculated distance as an output, often in the form of an analog voltage, digital signal, or a serial communication protocol (such as UART).
Ultrasonic proximity sensors have several advantages, including the ability to detect a wide range of objects, regardless of their material, color, or transparency. They are also not affected by ambient light conditions, making them suitable for various environments. However, they may have limitations in accurately detecting small or very thin objects and may not work well in highly reflective or acoustically noisy environments.
These sensors are commonly used in applications such as obstacle avoidance in robots, parking assist systems in vehicles, liquid level measurement, and various industrial automation processes where precise distance measurement is required.
Comparison of Proximity Sensors
To understand more about these sensors, please refer to the below comparison table:
|It uses current induced by magnetic fields to detect nearby metal objects
|An optical sensor converts light rays into an electrical signal
|Based on a mechanical principle detected the magnetic field
|Base on an electronic principle where an electrical field is produced on the active side
|Based on an ultrasonic source and receiver in the same device
|Robustness to vibration
|Hall-effect: HighReed-techno : Low
|Dust, oil, aspect of object
|Hall effect-sensitive EMCReed technology for magnetic field disturbances
|Air flow and temperature variation
|1. Machine: tolls, assembly line, automative industry2. Detection of metal parts in harsh environments3. High-speed moving parts
|1. Object detection on conveyor2. carton counting; 3. product sorting; 4. contrast detection
|1. Object detection
|1. Final inspection on packaging lines2. Measurements of the filling level of the liquids or granules through the walls of plastic or glass tanks
|1. Passage of objects on conveyor: glass bottles, cardboard Packaging 2. Filling level of liquids in a bottle or of granules in a plastic injection machine3. Depth of cavity
What is a proximity sensor used for?
and here is the list of applications:
- Object detection
- Counting of pieces
- Velocity measurements
- Positioning objects and containers
- Detection of materials
- Determine the direction of movement
- Monitoring of tools
- Detection of liquid levels
- Distance measuring
- Machine Protection
- Edge detection of an object
- Gear Checking
- Detection of metal objects
- Positioning a forklift truck
- Positioning of equipment in stock
- Detection and filling quantities
- Obstacle detection
I hope this article helps you understand the five types of proximity sensors, their specifications, and how they work according to their principles.
Tags : capacitive proximity sensor , comparison of proximity sensor , Inductive proximity sensor , magnetic proximity sensor , photoelectric proximity sensor , Proximity sensor , sensors , types of proximity sensor