Used to convert fluid pressure into electrical signals which can monitor and control systems, pressure transducers have become an invaluable tool for the protection and optimization of industrial equipment.
Benefits of New Methods
However, while existing transducers can offer an impressive service, the accuracy of the output of these components is continually increasing, thanks to the new methods in which sensor elements and electronics packages are constructed.
In addition to the increased functionality these new methods provide to pressure transducers, they have also enabled the components to withstand extreme temperatures, aggressive process conditions, mechanical shock, and vibration. In the latest pressure sensors from Gems Sensors and Controls, for example, an extremely sensitive pressure sensing mechanism is combined with a sophisticated electronics package.
These sensors can respond to pressure changes of under 1 millisecond, while providing high measurement accuracy. In addition, they have an operating life of over 100 million cycles, with practically zero drift over time.
Innovative Construction Methods
The sophisticated design and resilience are the result of highly innovative and carefully controlled construction methods, such as the advanced strain gauge technologies of chemical vapor deposition (CVD) and sputtered thin films.
CVD is a particularly effective method for the manufacture of strain gauge sensors, which utilize a pressure diaphragm to detect movement, and convert this information into electrical signals. Devices produced using CVD are generally compact and can provide high accuracy and excellent hysteresis characteristics. These sensors are fabricated on wafers in large batches and use polysilicon deposited onto a stainless-steel substrate, with chemically milled strain gauge patterns.
As well as CVD processes, sputtered thin films have also been integral to the success of recent pressure transducers. During the sputtering process, a solid target of the desired material is bombarded by energized particles, resulting in the release of atoms from the target.
Sputtered thin film deposition uses these released atoms to form a thin film. Using the sputtered thin film process in the manufacture of pressure transducers provides a sensitive and robust diaphragm, suitable for direct contact with almost all oils, liquids, and gases.
These innovations in the chemical manufacture of pressure sensors have been partnered with equally important advances in electronics, greatly enhancing the capabilities of transducers. For example, supplying electronic packages with pressure transducers in recent years has enabled each individual sensor to be tuned, in order to meet the exact requirements of each customer.
Advanced ASIC Technology
These electronic packages apply advanced ASIC (application specific integrated circuits) technology, which can enhance functionality and performance. They can also be customized, providing an effective and convenient option that cuts costs in cases where complex and costly control technology is not required.
The economic advantage from the introduction of ASIC has been significant. In combination with improvements in volume manufacturing techniques, ASIC’s introduction has reduced the unit cost of transducers by a factor of 10 in many instances. As a result, manufacturers have been able to sell sensors offering a level of performance previously associated with units that sold for £300, for as little as £30 a sensor.
Combining sputtered thin film and CVD technology with ASIC electronics packaging, a powerful combination of accuracy and reliability can be offered to the growing number of engineers who choose to investigate the advantages of pressure transduction technology.
The wide range of sensor products currently available will allow engineers to apply transducers across ever more challenging environments, as will the modular nature of components, which increases the variety of available options in the accommodation of transducers.
Pressure sensors will provide a greater level of data acquisition and system control as they continue to improve and develop, which will be applied both within the many industries currently utilizing them, and within those that aim to adopt them in the future.
The 3300 Series
Gems Sensors and Controls 3300 Series pressure transducers provide a wide range of pressure ports, outputs, and electrical connections, with pressure ranges between 15 and 200 psi, and with operating temperatures of -40 °C to +125 °C.
These sensors have a long operating life and can provide excellent resistance to mechanical vibration and pressure shocks, while the application of high temperature vacuum brazing of the stainless-steel components during their production offers a structure which is both strong and corrosion resistant, with low hysteresis and creep.
This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Gems Sensors and Controls.
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