Low cost magnetic transducers


Heriot-Watt University
Renishaw plc

Start date:

March 2014


Until April 2015

Project abstract

Renishaw is a global company with core skills in measurement, motion control, spectroscopy and precision machining. The company develops products ranging from improving manufacturing efficiencies and raising product quality, to maximising research capabilities and improving the efficacy of medical procedures. Its products are used in a diverse range of applications including machine tool automation, measurement, manufacturing, calibration, and surveying.

Using Low Temperature Co-fired Ceramic (LTCC) technology, this collaborative project between Renishaw and Heriot-Watt University aims to design, manufacture and test a cutting edge yet robust magnetic transducer system.

Many high-resolution transducers work on optical principals, requiring complex and expensive components and sophisticated manufacture and assembly techniques. Optical transducers can be susceptible to contamination, such as dirt or oil, making them suitable only for clean operating environments or deployed behind complex, bulky seals. By contrast, transducers that work on magnetic principles can operate over a wide temperature range but have no delicate components and are immune to most foreign contaminants, making them ideal for deployment in harsh environment, e.g., industrial printing, robotics and machining centres.

Today’s magnetic transducers of this type are largely based on planar 2D sensing coils manufactured using PCB technology, with resulting limits in sensitivity and resolution. Together, Renishaw and HWU will begin to investigate the development of a 3D transducer using low-cost LTCC technology.

Potential Impact

With over 40-years’ experience in industrial metrology, Renishaw has significant presence in optical, interferometric and permanent magnet encoders in markets as diverse as industrial metrology, robotics, automation, machine tools and printing.  Renishaw manufacture the probes and transducers used throughout aerospace, automotive, semiconductor and power systems engineering.

New transducer products developed as a result of this research would be manufactured in the UK, with the vast majority exported for sale.

Additionally, the new technology could be used in a number of other high-value areas of interest, and also for the general advancement of design and development in non-destructive test.

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