Linear position sensors have greatly evolved from their earlier predecessors primarily used in military and research applications. These days, sensors have found their way into a myriad of industrial and mechanical uses. A primary limitation of linear sensors in the past was the cost of electronic mechanisms that composed the device. It was not possible to mass produce sensors and use in more mainstream applications. These days, owing to the innovation of powerful and cheap microelectronics, sensors have become more adaptable and versatile.
Removing external electronic parts
In the past, the electronic parts responsible for the function of linear sensors were placed outside the device. It was a limiting factor and prohibited using linear position sensors widely. Microprocessors now allow electronics to be incorporated within the mechanism. In addition to this, linear position sensors have become more compact and feature non-contact parts. With more sensors now capable of producing digital outputs, sensors are now compatible with computer systems making them ideal for modern applications in satellite and meteorology equipment.
Resistance to extreme environmental conditions
Recent developments in linear sensing technology have also explored new materials that allow for more resistant and durable linear position sensors. These materials have proven to perform well in hazardous environments while machines are subjected to extreme high and low temperatures.
One example is the use of specialised nickel alloy that resists attack from microorganisms. This makes the device ideal for application in areas with shallow water and high oxygen concentration. There are linear sensors made with materials that can resist chemical corrosion and high underwater pressure. With the use of exotic alloys like cobalt, linear sensors can perform well even in highly sulphuric environments.
These are exciting developments and open up limitless possibilities for using linear sensors even if the environmental conditions are considered extreme and hazardous.
Size and stroke range
Linear sensors were also limited by stroke length where they could not be used for applications with limited space. The stroke to length ratio of linear position sensors did not make it possible for wide application in hydraulic machines. With the advent of compact microprocessors, sensors are now more compact and can be installed in limited spaces. Stroke to length ratio has also been improved and linear sensors have now found their way into hydraulic applications.
The combination of new materials and engineering techniques has also made linear position sensors perform better. The accuracy has also increased which means that linear sensors these days have a very low error in measurement. With continued innovation and research, it is possible for linear sensors to become more advanced in the future. It is also possible that new applications will be discovered to add to the already long list of uses for position sensors.