Encoder Care – How to Clean Encoder Optics

Celera Motion’s tape scale products come with a protective coating, and most of the encoders include recessed windows.

This should help to prevent accidental scratches or fingerprints during installation. Customers should consider wearing finger cots or powder free latex gloves when installing either the tape scales or the encoder. They should always wear finger cots or powder free latex gloves when handling Celera Motion’s glass scales.

Did Either the Encoder Window or Scale Get Dirty Because of their Location in the Application?

It is in customers’ best interest to consider cleanliness when selecting the location of the scale or encoder.

Scales that are mounted flat on the base of a stage can collect debris much more easily than one mounted perpendicular to the bottom surface. Protective covers should also be considered in excessively dirty applications.

Cleaning and Industry Performance

With its industry leading large positional error tolerances, Celera Motion can also handle a large amount of contaminant on the encoder window or scale. If customers do not see any detriment to performance, they may want to keep cleaning to a minimum.

Always Start with Compressed Air

Most contaminants can be removed using some high-quality canned air or ionizer. When high-quality canned air or ionizer is used, the can should be kept upright and the nozzle should be kept at a safe distance away from the product. The flow of gas should then be started with the nozzle pointed away from the optic. This is the best and safest way to clean optics.

Customers should not use compressed from a machine shop, as it could contain moisture or oils. They should not attempt to blow the debris with their breath as this can complicate a simple cleaning process.

What to Use if Air Does Not Work

  • Ionizer gun or compressed air – High-quality canned air or ionizer
  • Powder-free/latex gloves or finger cots – Wearing finger cots or latex gloves will keep the optics clean while installing them, but they are even more important when cleaning solutions are used so that oils from the hands are not introduced onto the optics which is being cleaned
  • Reagent grade isopropyl alcohol – Contaminant residue can be introduced by low grade alcohol. Customers should also avoid using stainless steel pump dispensers, which are common on many bench tops. A small amount of freshly poured alcohol in a clean glass crucible or tin can reduce the contamination issue. Acetone should never be used as it can dissolve the epoxy used to keep the protective window in place. This will weaken the bond and will deposit a film of acetone over the window as customers wipe the window.
  • Lint-free cotton swabs or wipes – The lint-free swabs with wooden stems are the best choice for cleaning optics. Benefits include low contamination cleaning issues with less than 0.001% contamination and no visible hazing that are suitable for sensitive surfaces.

Sensor Window Cleaning Procedure

The following procedure should be used for cleaning the sensor windows:

  • Inspect the window for contamination under magnification before starting the cleaning procedure
  • Dampen a lint-free cotton swab with the proposed solvent
  • Do not over soak the cotton swab as it will leave solvent stains on the window
  • Wipe the window with the cotton swab in only one direction over the window
  • Do not leave droplets of solvent on the window; only the cotton swab should be dampened so that it can absorb any excess solvent during the cleaning process
  • Wait for solvent to evaporate from window
  • Re-inspect the sensor window for any trace of contamination
  • Use an ionizer gun or compressed air to blow off any remaining particulates

Gratings Cleaning Procedure

The following procedure should be used for cleaning the gratings:

  • Inspect the grating for contamination under magnification before starting the cleaning procedure
  • Dampen a lint-free cotton swab or cloth with the proposed solvent
  • Do not over soak the cloth or swab as it will leave solvent stains on the grating
  • Wipe the grating in the direction of the diffraction lines (perpendicular to direction of travel) with the swab or cloth in one direction
  • Do not leave droplets of solvent on the grating; only the swab or cloth should be dampened so that it can absorb any excess solvent during the cleaning process
  • Wait for solvent to evaporate from the grating
  • Re-inspect the grating for any trace of contamination
  • Use an ionizer gun or compressed air to blow off any remaining particulates

Conclusion

Customers should expect to receive clean optics from Celera Motion. If the optics is dirty, it should be dusted off with high-quality canned air. If fingerprints or other contamination do not come off with air, extreme care should be taken when following the above procedures to clean the encoder head protective window and gratings.

If customers are unable to get the optics clean enough to function, they can contact Customer Service.

Celera Motion

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Celera Motion.

For more information on this source, please visit Celera Motion.

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