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Tiny incremental encoders ‘avoid compromises’

18 March, 2014

Renishaw has developed a non-contact optical linear and rotary incremental encoder technology that, it claims, uniquely combines miniaturisation with leading-edge dirt immunity, signal stability and reliability. The design of the Atom encoder is said to avoid the compromises traditionally associated with miniature encoders.

Renishaw claims that the encoder – which is available in versions as small as 6.7 x 12.7 x 20.5mm – is the world's first miniature encoder to use filtering optics with auto gain control (AGC) and auto offset control (AOC). Renishaw already uses this technology, whuch provides good signal stability and dirt immunity, in its Tonic incremental encoder range.

The Atom’s read head is available in various formats and offers “class-leading” accuracy with low sub-divisional error (SDE) and jitter, high signal stability, and long-term reliability. It can operate at speeds of up to 20m/s (29,000 rpm on a 17mm-diameter disc) and resolutions to 1nm (0.004 arc-second on a 108mm disc).

Various linear and rotary (angular) scales are available in stainless-steel and glass. The read head includes a set-up LED to allow quick and easy installation, and an auto-calibration routine for fast optimisation.

The encoders are available in hi-flex cable and flexible printed circuit (FPC) variants with 20 and 40µm scale options. The side-exit FPC version can be integrated with PCBs. Customers can also choose from a range of linear glass spars up to 130mm long, stainless-steel tapes up to 20m long, and rotary glass disc scales with diameters from 17–108mm.

Renishaw's new ultra-compact Atom incremental encoder will be available in a variety of linear and rotary formats

Optional Ti and DSi interfaces support interpolation factors to 20,000, delivering “outstanding metrology and unmatched dynamic performance”, according to Renishaw. Designers can also use the sinusoidal signal output from the read head to connect directly to analogue drives and controllers. Automated manufacturing of the encoders minimises process variability, thus ensuring high quality, short lead times and competitive costs.

Potential applications for the Atom system include laser scanning, co-ordinate measurement systems, semiconductor and flat-panel display production, motor drives, microscopy and scientific research.

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