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5µm-resolution distance sensor is based on air flow

21 February, 2022

A novel sensor, just announced by ifm, uses air flowing through a nozzle to measure the distance between the nozzle and a workpiece to a resolution of 5µm – about one-tenth the thickness of a human hair. The SDP110 air-gap sensor’s maximum measuring range is 400µm.

The sensor is aimed at applications such as positioning workpieces to within fractions of a millimetre, or measuring surface roughness.

The sensor is said to be easy to set up using either built-in teach buttons, or IO-Link. It compensates automatically for changes in air supply pressure over its operating range of 1-3 bar to ensure measurement consistency. The self-cleaning nozzle prevents the build-up of contaminants that might otherwise affect the sensor’s long-term stability and accuracy.

A built-in display shows all key operating parameters, including the gap size (in µm), air pressure and flow rate. The same information is available via IO-Link for easy interfacing with control systems. The sensor also has a conventional analogue output and a digital output that can be programmed to switch on or off at user-defined sensing distances.

Although designed to deliver optimum accuracy at pressures of up to 3 bar, the sensor can withstand pressures up to 6 bar. This means that purge air – used, for example, to clean dust and swarf from a workpiece before a measurement is carried out – can be delivered via the sensor, eliminating the need for a separate delivery system.

The distance-measuring sensor can be used to position workpieces precisely or measure surface roughness

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