You might be surprised at where you find photoelectric sensors.
If you used a garage door opener this morning there was one present to safely open and close the door. We've all waved our hand in front of a sink to turn the water on or walked through an automatically opened door. All of these use photoelectric sensors.
A photoelectric sensor detects a change in light intensity. Generally this means the sensor either does or does not detect the emitted light source. For example, an automatic door senses the change in light intensity when you approach the door and then opens.
There are basically three main methods of target detection with photoelectric sensors: diffused, through-beam and retro-reflective.
Let's start with through beam photoelectric sensors. Through beam (or thru-beam) uses two separate housings. One for the transmitter and one for the receiver. The transmitter aims a light at the receiver and when a target breaks the light beam the output on the receiver is activated.
Through beam is the most efficient method and gives you the longest possible sensing range when using photoelectric sensors.
The next method of sensing is retro-reflective. As the name suggests, this method uses a reflector.
The transmitter and receiver are in the same housing. The transmitter uses a reflector to reflect the light back to the receiver. The target is detected when the beam is blocked from the sensor to the reflector.
The third and final mode of sensing is diffused mode. In this method the transmitter and receiver are also in the same housing, however, the light from the transmitter hits the target and it is reflected back to the receiver. There is no reflector needed, however, this mode usually gives you shorter sensing ranges than the other two.
This method is affected by the target's color, size and finish because the sensor is using the target to reflect the light beam back.
Marshall Wolf Automation is a powerhouse when it comes to sensors, especially photoelectric sensors. We are authorized distributors for all the big names in sensors; Pepperl+Fuchs, Baumer Electric, IDEC, Takex, Autonics, Carlo Gavazzi, Leuze Electronics and more.
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