This section provides an overview for linear encoders as well as their applications and principles. Also, please take a look at the list of 46 linear encoder manufacturers and their company rankings. Here are the top-ranked linear encoder companies as of December, 2023: 1.POSIC, 2.YUEQING YUMO ELECTRIC CO.,LTD, 3.Velmex.
Categories Related to Linear Encoders
A linear encoder is a device that uses a sensor to read the linear position of a moving device. In contrast, the type that detects the rotation angle is called a rotary encoder.
There are two types of encoders: an incremental type that outputs the distance traveled according to the amount traveled and an absolute type that outputs the absolute position. Absolute encoders can determine the current position when the power is turned on again, no matter under what conditions the equipment is turned off. Still, they are more complicated and expensive in comparison.
Linear encoders are used in industrial equipment and other devices that require motors, hydraulic pressure, or pneumatic pressure and require multiple high-precision positioning. Rotary encoders are often used with motors, etc. However, the stop position of the motor does not always correspond to the stop position of the equipment due to backlash, twisting, deflection of parts, etc., in the process of converting rotational motion into linear motion. For equipment where these errors cannot be tolerated, linear encoders directly determine the stop position of the equipment.
Another example of use that is relatively familiar is digital calipers. In addition to reliably measuring in digital form, these calipers can be connected to a PC or other device to record measurement results easily and reliably.
A linear encoder consists of two parts: a linear scale with a built-in scale for position detection and a sensor that reads the scale.
There are two detection methods: optical and magnetic.
In the case of the optical method, the scale has a slit or reflector at the scale position, and the position is determined by whether or not light passes through the slit or, in the case of the reflector, whether or not light reflects back.
It uses high precision and high resolution but requires a cover in environments where water, oil, or dust may be generated. The structure is complex and large because the sensor needs to move while covered.
In the case of the magnetic type, the scale is magnetized at the scale position. The position is determined by sensing changes in the magnetic force. Because of its magnetic sensing structure, the scale is resistant to water, oil, and dust, and because of its simple structure, many of them are small in size.
Absolute-type sensors have a specific pattern of slits, reflectors, and magnetic force on the scale side to determine absolute position by combining patterns.
The incremental type generates a pulse signal when it moves a certain distance. Since position misalignment may occur when the encoder is operated continuously, there are methods such as periodically inserting a homing operation.
In recent years, there has been rapid progress in semiconductors, and the semiconductor industry has developed with higher integration, according to Moore's Law. This progress in the semiconductor industry has spilled over into various electronic devices, and electronic control and higher precision are applied to various products. As integration and density increase, so does position detection accuracy in semiconductor manufacturing equipment and machine tools that manufacture mechanical parts with high precision.
Precise position control in semiconductor manufacturing equipment and machine tools requires an actuator to move an object and a detection method to detect the exact position of the actuator. Currently, laser interferometers and encoders are used for precise position detection.
In designing an actuator, it is common to configure an actuator based on linear motion in the three axes (X, Y, and Z) and spatial motion by combining these three axes. Therefore, linear encoders are used for precise linear position detection. Scales and detectors are installed on the moving and fixed parts to precisely detect the distance.
Linear encoders are widely used in precision equipment for machine tools and semiconductor manufacturing because they can accurately measure positions. Still, they are commonly used with resolutions on the micron order or lower.
Therefore, the mounting method and mounting accuracy are essential when designing to maintain that accuracy. The mounting accuracy of linear encoders is described in the instruction manual of each product and manufacturer. The mounting method depends on the structure of the equipment in which the linear encoder will be mounted and must be considered by the designer.
As the accuracy of the linear encoder itself is on the order of microns, for example, mounting accuracy of 1 mm or less is required for the distance between the sensor and the scale, yaw, roll, and pitch, respectively. Depending on the need, it may be necessary to design and manufacture a precision jig or manually adjust the encoder during mounting.
*Including some distributors, etc.
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Red Lion was founded in 1972 and headquartered in York, Pennsylvania as part of Spectris, PLC, headquartered in Egham, England. The company serves manufacturing, oil & gas, alternative energy, transportation, and water industries with products for their industrial automation and industrial networking needs. The company’s industrial automation division creates controllers, secure remote access platforms, panel meters, and process control devices. The industrial networking division offers ethernet devices, IIoT gateways and routers, and communication converters.
Sick AG, founded in 1946 and headquartered in Waldkirch, Germany, is a manufacturer of sensor and sensor solutions that aid in in production, logistics, and processes automation. The company’s expansive product portfolio includes industrial sensors, encoders, and analyzers. It has over 50 subsidiaries and equity investments as well as several agencies worldwide, and in the 2022 fiscal year, it generated around €2.2 billion. The company established the first subsidiary in France in 1972 and opened another subsidiary in USA in 1975. It changed to a joint stock company in 1996 and the first employee shares were issued in 1999.
Metlsaw Systems Inc., esstablished in in 1973, is a manufacturer of extrusion, plate, cut off, cold and combination saws for industrial metalworking and plastics production applications. Their product range include digital redouts sytems, microsyn serial encoders, linear and rotary encoders, feedback encoders, that are used in heavy environmental conditions, specifically in machine tool applications.Their sales office is located in Colombus, Ohia and they have operations in Americas, Europe and Asia.
Sensata Technologies was originally founded in 1916 as General Plate Company and is now headquartered in Attleboro, Massachusetts. The company is a developer, manufacturer, and seller of sensors and sensor-rich solutions, electrical protection components, and other products used in automotive, industrial, energy, telecom, and construction industries. The company has 20 product categories including force sensors, tire management solutions, inverters & charges, and pressure sensors.The company’s next generation of products are designed to improve the efficiency of industrial pumps, fuel efficiency in ICE cars and energy efficiency in TVs, and facilitate usage of IoT devices.
Dongguan HanDing Optical Instrument Co., Ltd. (DHOI) is a Chinese manufacturer of optical measurement products established in 2016 and based in Dongguan City, Guangdong Province. The company produces various measurement devices including thickness gauges, video measuring machines, microscopes, and linear encoders used in medical instruments as well as for sensitive operations, such as the production of printed circuit boards (PCBs). It also offers customization, training, and installation services. DHOI primarily serves client manufacturers of consumer electronics, precision hardware, semiconductors, and lithium batteries.
Heidenhain Corporation is a German manufacturer of positioning control and encoding devices as well as equipment that was established in 1948 as a subsidiary of DR. JOHANNES HEIDENHAIN GmbH. Based in Traunreut, Bavaria, the company produces rotary, angle, and linear encoders for demanding positioning applications, as well as CNC control modules and digital readouts. It also offers repair, technical support, and personnel training services for customer facilities and workforces. Heidenhain Corporation products are used in machine tools, consumer electronics manufacturing, automation, and robotics, as well as by clients in the medical and renewable energy industries.
Gage-Line Technology, Inc., established in 1972 with headquarters in Rochester, New York, is a manufacturer of precision optical graphics, patterns, and devices. Their diverse product line includes sight and hard gages, reticles, resolution targets, optical slits, test patterns, stage micrometers, calibration glass grids, encoder discs, and timing strips, utilized for various applications in metrology, gaging, optical, and imaging industries. They also provide a range of capabilities, including CAD design, artwork plotting, fixture tooling, optical alignments, and assembly services.
Velmex, Inc. was founded in 1967 in Bloomfield, New York where it still operates today. The company is a designer and manufacturer of stock and custom linear and rotary motion control positioning equipment for scientific, research, machining, and industrial applications. The company produces 3 unique brands of manual and motor-driven assemblies in Unislide, BiSlide, and XSlide in multiple build-to-order configurations. The company also produces manual and motor-driven XY tables, rotary turntables, as well as VXM motor controls, and VRO encoder readouts.
Celera Motion, founded in 1994 in the USA, is a motion control business of Novanta Inc. and a manufacturer of motion control devices and composite solutions for OEMs. The company's products, which include inductive encoders, direct-drive motors, servo drives, transducers, and air-bearing spindles, among others, are also used in the medical, Satcom, UAV, medical, and scientific markets. Celera Motion also offers ISO 9001 and ISO 13485-compliant encoders, motors, sensors, transducers, and servo drives in custom sizes.
SMAC, a company founded in 1990, and headquartered in Carlsbad, California, USA, is a manufacturer and distributor of innovative electronic devices. The company offers a wide range of precision programmable electric actuators based on its patented moving coil technology. These proprietary and patented moving coil linear motor-based designs are technically far ahead of old-generation pneumatic and other electric actuators, including moving magnet linear motors. The company offers a wide range of cutting-edge products, including smartphones, tablets, laptops, and smart home devices. The company also offers customer services.
ONExia Inc is based in Exton, Pennsylvania and is a robotics integrator, custom machine builder, and industrial distributor. ONExia specializing in manual process automation and assists manufacturers of all sizes increase throughput with cutting edge technology. ONExia works with customers to develop turnkey custom machines including 2D & 3D vision system integration, software design & development, and machine safety services. ONExia uses robotics to automate line packaging. ONExia also offers robot palletizers that are compatible with new or existing packaging lines.
Kinequip, Inc. was founded in 1946 in Buffalo, NY as a distributor of industrial parts, accessories, and kits. Today these offerings have grown to include motors, compressors, blower systems, clams, pumps, various fittings, gauges, and sensors, as well as pneumatic and high-pressure devices. Kinequip also serves as a distributor for individual device and parts manufacturers. Kinequip additionally offers custom-designed solutions ranging from R&D to unique components and special-made parts, as well as value added designs on demand.
Measurement Technologies, established in 2009, is a distributor of precision measurement tools such as metrology displays, Anilam & Acu-Rite CNC controls, linear feedback scales, digital readouts & displays, and digital probes used in automotive and manufacturing industries. The company in St.Clair Shores, MI, has manufacturer partners such as Heidenhain, Magnascale Sony, Metro, Fagor, and Solarton offer warranties of the tools as per the manufacturing company. The company is certified to fix Heidenhain encoders, linear scales, and length gages.
Fagor Automation Corp. is a manufacturer of machine automation and control products and equipment established in 1972 and headquartered in Rolling Meadows, Illinois, USA. The company offers CNC systems for lathes, milling machines, cutting, grinding, and bending under the CNCelite, QUERCUS, and Optima brands. It also offers feedback systems for machine tools such as CNC machines and conventional machines as well as for various applications such as metrology, semiconductors, large scientific facilities, and additive manufacturing.
HEIDENHAIN, founded in 1889 and headquartered in Traunreut, Germany, is a manufacturer of precision measurement and control equipment. Specializing in industries requiring precise solutions, the company offers rotary and linear encoders, digital readouts, touch probes, and motion controllers. These products serve sectors like manufacturing, electronics, and aerospace, ensuring enhanced precision and efficiency. The company holds ISO 9001 certification and is an EMAS-certified company, thereby meeting the demanding, globally recognized environmental certification standards of the European Union.
SANTEST (STC) is a manufacturer of sensors, transducers, and other mechatronic products based in Osaka, Japan. Founded in 1953, the company's products are used in various industrial applications such as robotics, injection molding, hydraulic systems, and machine tooling. The company's product lineup includes pressure and magnetostrictive transducers for assessing process variables, servo valves for controlling flow rates or pressure ranges using electronic signals, and ultrasonic sensors for precise measurement using ultrasonic waves. STC also provides its clients with after-sales services such as calibration, maintenance, and repair.
Rotary and Linear Motion Sensors (RLS) is a magnetic encoders and components manufacturer founded in 1989 and based in Komenda, Slovenia, partnering with British engineering company Renishaw PLC in 2000. The company primarily produces various incremental and absolute rotary and linear magnetic encoder models, magnetic sensor ICs, optomodules, and analogue interpolators. Other products include photodiode arrays used for spectroscopy, as well as optical scanning and barcode reading. These are used for applications in the manufacture of surgical and collaborative robots, submarine technology, heavy machinery, and the aerospace industry.
Hangzhou RoboCT Technology Development Co., Ltd. (HRTD) is a Chinese manufacturer and supplier of robotic components and products that was established in Hangzhou in 2017. The company produces omni-directional mobile robots, mecanum wheels for robotic mobility, robot joint modules, and DC motors. It also offers contract manufacturing and technical support services for unique or demanding customer projects. HRTD serves a number of China’s institutions including the Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Beijing Institute of Technology, and the Zhejiang University Hospital, as well as clients in the chemical, logistics, and smart car industries.
CHINA YUMO ELECTRIC CO.,LTD (CYE) is a Chinese manufacturer of industrial automation control products that was established in Yueqing, Zhejiang in 2007. The company primarily produces proximity switches and sensors, programmable logic controllers (PLCs), human machine interfaces (HMIs), slip rings, and rotary encoders. These ensure the proper control, positioning, and function of automated processes or machinery in industrial facilities. CYE products are used in various industrial manufacturing and fabrication operations, including in the food processing, glass, ceramics, metalworking, and assembly automation sectors.
TR-Electronic, established in 1983 and based in Trossingen, Germany, is a manufacturer and supplier of encoders and components. The product portfolio includes a diverse range of rotary and linear encoders, customized sensor designs, compact drives, and other machinery components with automation. The products are used in various applications which include metal process, paper, logistics, storage, event technology, and renewable energies. All the company products are ISO certified with other certifications too.
RSF Elektronik is a manufacturer of electronic linear measuring systems, high-precision and resistant graduations, and customized cable systems. Their lineup comprises electronic linear measuring systems that offer resolutions from a few micrometers to the nanometer range, as well as high-precision and durable graduations produced using thin-layer technology on glass or other substrates. Additionally, they design tailor-made cable systems to cater to various sectors and applications, encompassing automation, robotics, automotive, aerospace, and medical technology. The company holds certifications in accordance with EN ISO 9001 and EN ISO 14001.
Renishaw is a British manufacturer and supplier of engineering technology products and solutions established in 1973 and based in Gloucestershire, United Kingdom. The company primarily produces equipment for metrology, spectroscopy, and healthcare, including coordinate measuring machines (CMMs), dental scanners, and Raman spectrometers. They also offer long-term support services, such as calibration, refurbishment, repair, and upgrades. Renishaw has more than 5,000 employees across its network of subsidiaries and sales offices in over 36 countries.
YUEQING YUMO ELECTRIC CO.,LTD, founded in Zhejiang, China, in 2004 is a manufacturer of industrial automation control products. The company's product portfolio includes Programmable Logic Controller, Human Machine Interface, Photoelectric Switch, Proximity Switch, and Switching power supply. Their products find application in textile machinery Machinery, packaging machinery, wind power generation, and industrial assembly automation control field. The company serves industries such as Oil and Gas, Aerospace and Defense, Automotive and Transportation, Construction, and Power Generation.
LIKA Electronic, established in 1982, is based in Buccinasco, Italy, and is a manufacturer and supplier of encoders, position measuring systems, and linear motion components. Their product portfolio includes rotary encoders, incremental and absolute encoders, linear encoders, and magnetic measuring systems. These precision devices find applications in various industries, such as automation, robotics, CNC machines, and packaging equipment. LIKA Electronic's products are known for their accuracy, and durability, providing essential feedback for motion control and positioning. Putting a priority on client happiness and creativity, LIKA Electronic continues to deliver cutting-edge solutions that meet the evolving needs of the industrial automation market.
BEI Sensors, founded in 1916 and headquartered in Attleboro, Massachusetts, USA, is a manufacturer specializing in sensors and encoders for motion control and position feedback. Its offerings include pressure sensors, relays, motor protectors, insulation monitoring devices, and circuit breakers, serving diverse industries like aerospace, defense, industrial, medical, and transportation. They also offer tire management solutions, blind spot monitoring solutions, and battery management systems. Its manufacturing facilities are aligned with and certified under ISO 14001.
Magnescale Co., Ltd., established in 1969 as Sony Magnescale Co., Ltd. and headquartered in Tokyo, is a manufacturer specializing in encoder scales used extensively in the Computer Numeric Control (CNC) machine tool industries. The company offers a range of products, including the Magnescale lineup of magnetic scales for rotational and linear position measurement. Additionally, they develop the Laserscale lineup, utilizing hologram technology and semiconductor lasers as light sources to achieve measurement resolutions at the picometer scale. These scales exhibit position and angle control, as well as environmental resistance to severe conditions such as temperature changes and air pressure fluctuations.
POSIC, founded in Switzerland, in 2001 is a manufacturer of miniature inductive position sensors. The company's product portfolio includes encoder kits and encoder chips for the measurement of a linear or rotary position of a linear scale or a code wheel and Inductive Gear Speed Sensor Chip. Their products are used in industries such as Food and Beverage, Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology, Chemical and Petrochemical, Environmental Testing and Healthcare. The company also provides services including national distribution, product selection, installation, preventative maintenance, troubleshooting, repair and customer service.
Solartron Metrology, established in 1946, is a designer and manufacturer of precision quality control, test & measurement, and machine control sensors used in automotive, aerospace, electronics, optics, and semiconductor industries based in Bognor Regis, West Sussex. Their product portfolio includes digital and analog linear measurement sensors and dimensional LVDT Gauging probes, Displacement Sensors, Optical Linear Encoders, and Non-Contact sensors. The company also offers gauge software, the Orbit used for collecting and storing measurement data from manual, semi-automatic, and automatic inspection systems.
RIFTEK LLC, a company established in 1993, based in Minsk, Belarus, is a manufacturer and supplier of optoelectronic instruments for measuring geometrical quantities. The company provides various products such as laser triangulation sensors, 2D and 3D laser scanners, absolute linear encoders, optical micrometers, and specialized systems for measuring dimensions, displacements, thickness, and diameter. These products are used for various applications such as power generation, distribution, industrial automation, railway transport, machine vision, and others. The company also offers engineering, installation, testing, and maintenance services for its customers.
Unipulse Corporation was established in 1970 in Tokyo, Japan as a manufacturer of sensors. The company's product list includes Rotating torque meters for detecting torque applied to rotating shafts along with weighing indicators and load cells to control and configure automated weighing systems. There are digital sensors that measure displacements like gaps, flatness, and vibrations and some are designed to measure the force applied in assembly operations along with Amplifiers and Peripherals like printers. These products have various applications, such as the torque meter used in motors, and engines, and weighing measurement is applied to batching machines, weight fillers, etc.
Novotechnik was founded in 1947 in Germany and they design, develop, manufacture, and distribute sensors and measurement devices. The company offers a diverse range of products that cater to various industries and applications. Some of the key product categories include rotary sensors and linear transducers. Their products play a crucial role in ensuring the smooth operation and performance of machinery, enabling enhanced control, monitoring, and measurement capabilities. These products find applications in industries such as injection molding machinery in wood, textile, paper, and metal processing and in the packaging industry.
ELGO ELECTRONIC GmbH & Co. KG is a German manufacturer specializing in magnetic measuring and positioning systems that was founded in 1978 in Rielasingen-Worblingen, Baden-Württemberg. The company produces precision equipment for absolute or incremental linear and angle measurement, single or multi-axis positioning controls, and battery-powered position indicators. It also offers rotary encoders and display systems, along with maintenance or repair, troubleshooting, and commissioning services. The company’s products are chiefly used in mobile and facility automation operations, with additional applications in the medical or laboratory equipment manufacturing, engineering, and renewable energy sectors.
POSITAL is a leading supplier of advanced industrial position sensors used in motion control and safety systems. The company is known for innovation in product design and manufacturing, as well as being a pioneer of Industry 4.0/IIoT. As a member of the FRABA group, POSITAL has a history dating back to 1918 and has played a significant role in the development of rotary encoders and other sensor products. POSITAL has a global presence with subsidiaries in Europe, North America, and Asia and works with sales and distribution partners worldwide.
IntelLiDrives Inc., founded in 1999 and headquartered in Pennsylvania, United States, is a manufacturer of linear actuators, XY tables, and rotary tables. The company offers a diverse product lineup, including multi-axis motion and automation controllers with visual programming, four-axe XY-Z-rotary stages for precision applications, and integrated two-axe rotary assemblies. These products have applications in various industries, including semiconductor manufacturing, automated accurate positioning in microscopy, and electronic assembly manufacturing. Its research center has published that aperture Planar ServoRing Series rotary tables can be used to develop medical devices.
Leine & Linde AB is based in Stockholm, Sweden, and is a manufacturer of industrial encoders and sensors that was originally founded in 1967 before becoming a part of the Heidenhain Group in 1995. The company primarily produces linear, rotary and heavy duty encoders for motion control applications, as well as functional safety assessment and condition monitoring. It also offers inclinometers for measuring slope or tilt angles, along with related accessories including connectors and mounting brackets. Aside from its products, the company provides custom design and engineering, repair or replacement, and express manufacturing and delivery services.
The Group's Business Automation business is centered on offices and large buildings, and its Advanced Automation business, which provides solutions for factories and plants, serves customers around the globe. Additionally, in Japan, the Group's Life Automation business focuses on markets closely connected with people’s lives, such as lifelines and health.
9 products are listed.