DEVICE AND SENSOR FOR CONTACTLESS DISTANCE AND/OR POSITION DETERMINATION OF A MEASUREMENT
1. A device for the contactless distance and/or position determination of a measurement object (1), with an electrically conductive measurement object (1) and with a sensor (3) operating in particular according to the inductive, capacitive or the eddy current principle, wherein the sensor (3) comprises a measurement device (4),characterized in that the measurement device (4) is formed by at least two measurement elements (5, 5′
- , 5″
) which are spatially separated from each other.
1. A device for the contactless distance and/or position determination of a measurement object (1), with an electrically conductive measurement object (1) and with a sensor (3) operating in particular according to the inductive, capacitive or the eddy current principle, wherein the sensor (3) comprises a measurement device (4), characterized in that the measurement device (4) is formed by at least two measurement elements (5, 5′, 5″) which are spatially separated from each other. Moreover, a corresponding sensor (3) is indicated.
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- 1. A device for the contactless distance and/or position determination of a measurement object (1), with an electrically conductive measurement object (1) and with a sensor (3) operating in particular according to the inductive, capacitive or the eddy current principle, wherein the sensor (3) comprises a measurement device (4),
characterized in that the measurement device (4) is formed by at least two measurement elements (5, 5′
- , 5″
) which are spatially separated from each other.
- View Dependent Claims (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15)
- , 5″
The invention relates to a device for the contactless distance and/or position determination of a measurement object, with an electrically conductive measurement object and with a sensor operating in particular according to the inductive, capacitive or the eddy current principle, wherein the sensor comprises a measurement device. Furthermore, the invention relates to a corresponding sensor.
Positioning elements for the path/position (actors) are very frequently operated in closed control circuits. In order to make this possible, a sensor is required to detect the positioning path (or the distance/position/deflection. To this end there are a number of measuring methods (optical, electromagnetic, tactile) which represent the prior art.
Many applications are based on the problem of constructing the actor/sensor system as compactly as possible. In practice, a shaping of the construction shape frequently results in which an axial movement of a cylinder/piston/needle/rod/striker is carried out by the positioning element. Since an axial, direct determination of the movement is not possible due to limitations of construction space, a target flag is frequently placed and arranged in such a manner that a lateral placing of the sensor is possible.
This is shown, for example, in the German published, unexamined document DE 42 39 635 A1. In it, an electrically conductive metallic element is attached to the valve rod in an electropneumatic positioning regulator. A laterally attached path sensor detects the axial movement of the metallic element and therefore the position of the valve rod.
In practice, in the case of electromagnetic sensors (eddy current, capacitive) there is the problem of a disturbing interaction (in addition to the desired interaction with the target) with the deflected mechanism on account of the spatial expansion of the electrical or magnetic field. There is the problem that in the case of a required measuring area a laterally arranged field-bound, contactless sensor generates a field which is spatially too expanded. The expanding field is disturbed by other moved or static objects of the actor in the vicinity, which leads to measuring errors. A reduction in the construction size of the sensor reduces the measuring area so that this is not a satisfactory solution of this problem.
Another problem which occurs in sensors which are laterally arranged in accordance with the prior art is caused by the superposed movements which frequently occur in practice. That is, the movement of the target to the sensor takes place not only axially but is also characterized, for example, as a tilting movement. This can result in significant measurement errors.
This problem is solved according to the prior art by the arranging of several sensors. In DE 42 39 635 A1 two sensors offset by 180° are arranged to this end wherein the sensors measure relative to an oblique plane. However, this results in greater construction expense and therefore in an elevation of costs. Another problem of the laterally arranged sensors is the great space requirement in the longitudinal direction.
The present invention is therefore based on the problem of designing and further developing a generic device for the contactless distance and/or position determination of a measurement object in such a manner that a compact and economical device can be realized with simple constructive means which makes possible a precise distance and/or position determination. Moreover, a corresponding sensor should be indicated.
The above problem is solved in accordance with the invention by the features of claim 1. Accordingly, the device in question for the contactless distance and/or position determination of a measurement object is characterized in that the measurement device is formed by at least two measurement elements which are spatially separate from one another.
It was recognized in accordance with the invention that the basic problem can be solved in a surprisingly simple manner by a skillful designing of the measurement device. This concerns in the case of the measurement device the component of the sensor which generates the electrical, magnetic or electromagnetic field required for the measuring. In principle, a large measurement element, namely, the measurement device, is divided into several smaller measurement elements each of which, viewed by itself, has a smaller construction size and therefore a smaller field distribution than a large measurement element. As a result of the division, the measurement elements can be skillfully geometrically arranged in order to nevertheless achieve a large measuring area. Another advantage is that the scatter field of the measurement elements is reduced, which reduces the outside influencing. Even a tilting of the measurement object can be compensated by a symmetrical arrangement of the measurement elements. The device can comprise at least two, preferably three measurement elements which are spatially separated from one another and jointly form the measurement device. In general, any desired number n of measurement elements can be arranged which jointly form the measurement device. The measurement elements can be supplied by a common measurement electronic system or evaluation electronic system.
In order to realize an especially simple and compact device, the measurement elements can be arranged on a common substrate. Substrate denotes in the following every type of carrier material for measurement elements or electronic components (e.g., printed circuit board, ceramics, multilayer ceramics). In another advantageous manner the measurement elements are arranged in a plane.
The sensor can operate as an inductive or eddy current path sensor. The measurement device can be a coil which is divided into several measurement elements realized as (partial) coils. The (partial) coils can be connected in series so that their inductivity is added. The (partial) coils can be constructed as wound coils or as flat coils. When designed as flat coils, they can be constructed, for example, on printed circuit boards or on ceramic substrates. Alternately, the (partial) coils can be constructed in multilayer ceramic layers which can be produced with the Low Temperature Cofired Ceramics Technology (LTCC Technology) or in High Temperature Cofired Ceramics Technology (HTCC Technology). The coils in LTCC or HTCC technology are especially advantageous since multilayer coils with high inductivity and a small construction size can be produced with them. Moreover, the (partial) coils form a unit with the substrate and the interconnection of the (partial) coils can already be realized in this unit. The coils of the inductive or eddy current path sensor can be part of evaluation electronics which evaluates the amplitude, frequency and/or the phase. A combination of two or three of these magnitudes can also be used.
Furthermore, it is conceivable that the sensor is designed as a capacitive (path) sensor. The measurement device is then a metallic surface which acts in a known manner as an electrode of a plate capacitor. The measurement object serves as counterelectrode so that this measurement electrode and the measurement object form a plate capacitor. The measurement electrode, i.e., the measurement device, can be subdivided into several partial surfaces, i.e., measurement elements which are for their part arranged spatially separated from each other. The (partial) electrodes or measurement elements can be connected in parallel so that the capacity of the (partial) electrodes is added up. The latter can be controlled by common evaluation electronics. The (partial) electrodes can be arranged, for example, on printed circuit boards, on ceramic substrates or in multilayer ceramic layers produced in LTCC or in HTCC technology. Moreover, the (partial) electrodes can form a unit with the substrate and the interconnection of the (partial) electrodes can already be realized in this unit.
A special advantage of the arrangement of the invention according to claim 1 is the fact that a single evaluation electronic system can be used for several measurement elements. The evaluation electronic system can serve the higher-ordered measurement elements and consider them as a unit. Therefore, construction space and expense are saved and the development of heat/energy consumption are minimized. Another advantage resides in the possibility of the same-phase and same-frequency control of the individual measurement elements, as a result of which measurement errors due to the interaction between the measurement elements are avoided. The multipartite measurement element is nevertheless not a classic bridge circuit. A bridge circuit would require a tapping between the measurement elements and is only suitable for the evaluation of differential signals. For example, in the case of a half-bridge arrangement the signal is amplified in one measurement element and attenuated in the other one so that a measurement signal results from the difference of the partial signals. On the other hand, in the arrangement according to the invention all measurement elements act in the same direction so that the partial signals are summed up and the measurement signal is amplified. An electrical tapping between the partial elements does not take place. Another advantage is the fact that in contrast to a classic Wheatstone bridge circuit with four electrical tappings, only two electrical tappings are required, namely, one supply line and one drain line for the coil or the electrode. The evaluation electronics can be built up purely with analog components, from which an analog measuring signal is generated. Alternatively, a digital electronics can be used which supplies digitized signals, for example, a PWM signal, as evaluation electronics. If a microcontroller is used, a digital signal can also be made available, for example, via a bus interface.
Since the measurement elements can function as a cumulative circuit, disturbances such as, e.g., the influence of temperature on the measuring elements or the measuring device are not automatically compensated. Therefore, the measurement element can be loaded with a direct voltage, namely, for the determination of the temperature as a separate temperature compensation. The direct current impedance of the measurement element is proportional to the ohmic resistance, which is a function of the temperature. Therefore, a temperature compensation of the path sensor can be achieved in the evaluation electronics. A compensation of the influence of temperature gradients can also be achieved by the cumulative circuit of the measurement elements. Temperature gradients occur when the temperature on one side of the measurement element is different than on another side. A temperature distribution is adjusted by the measurement element which leads to locally different temperature errors. As a result of the measuring of the direct current impedance of the entire multipartite measurement element, the (local) direct current impedance can be added up at any position and therefore the influence of the temperature gradient can be compensated over the entire measurement element. Alternatively, a temperature sensor can be arranged on the substrate or several temperature sensors can be arranged on different positions of the substrate for temperature compensation.
The evaluation electronics for the path sensor can be directly arranged on the substrate which carries the measurement elements. An especially compact structural shape can be achieved if the evaluation electronics is attached to the back side, i.e., the substrate side facing away from the measurement elements. Alternatively, the evaluation electronics can also be arranged on a preferably annular, separate substrate. The electrical connection of the measurement elements to the evaluation electronics can take place, for example, via rigid contact pins which represent at the same time a mechanical connection and therefore a fixing. The evaluation electronics in the measurement elements form a compact unit here which can be built in as its own object inside the actor. This can save the sensor from having to have its own housing.
Also, the electrical connection between the evaluation electronics in the measurement elements and/or the supplying of the supply voltage to the measurement elements could take place via a flexible conductor. A rigid flexible connection is especially advantageous in which the flexible conductor is embedded in the substrate. Therefore, a mechanical decoupling can be achieved in applications in which, for example, elevated shock or vibration stresses occur on account of the insertion situation. The evaluation electronics can be arranged in this embodiment in an area in which only a low or no stress acts on the structural elements whereas the measurement device or the measurement elements is/are decoupled at the measurement position with shock and vibration stress. Since the measurement device and/or the measurement elements can only comprise printed conducting tracks or electrode surfaces, the device is extremely insensitive to such stresses. If the evaluation electronics is already arranged on the back side of the substrate, the supplying of the supply voltage and the removal of the sensor signals, for example by flexible conductors, contact pins, cables or other electrical connections can also take place.
The measurement device and/or the measurement elements are arranged in an active connection with a measurement object. The measurement object is electrically conductive and can be an integral component of the moved object (for example, of an actor or positioning element) whose deflection/position/distance is to be measured. However, it can also be attached to the moved object especially for the purpose of measuring. If the distance of the measurement object to the path sensor changes, the inductivity and the capacitance of the measurement elements changes. The change of inductivity or capacitance can be converted in the evaluation electronics into an analog or digital signal which is proportional to the deflection/position/distance of the moved object. Concretely speaking, the measurement elements can be arranged on a common side opposite the measurement object and the deflection/shifting/position of the measurement object can be measured in a direction of movement which is directed substantially vertically to the surface of the measurement elements.
An especially favorable arrangement of the measurement elements in an actor is realized if the measurement elements are concentrically arranged around the positioning element. In addition, it is conceivable that the substrate carrying the measurement elements has a passage for a movable object, for example an actor or a positioning element. In particular, the substrate can be constructed in an annular manner and/or the measurement elements and/or the measurement elements can detect all the movement/position/deflection of the measurement object in the common measurement axis (axially). The spatial middle point of the measurement axis is in this case congruent with the middle of the movement axis of the positioning element. The positioning element can be, for example, the piston of a cylinder or the needle or the shaft of a microvalve, a rotating shaft or a rod of a pneumatic positioning drive. In the case of the concentric arrangement around the passage and therefore the positioning element, the available construction space can be optimally utilized. It is not necessary here that the measurement elements have a round shape. The shape of the measurement elements can be adapted to the geometry of the positioning element and/or of the electrically conductive measurement object arranged on the positioning element. For example, the measurement elements can have a geometry which is round, in the shape of a segment of a circle, oval or polygonal, in particular triangular or rectangular. In the case of (partial) coils, only a certain basic inductivity must be achieved.
An especially favorable assembly type is achieved in that the sensor and/or the substrate is pressed with the aid of a resilient element against a fixed structural component of the actor housing, for example, an edge which serves as a firm stop. This is especially advantageous in the case of changing temperature conditions. If the different materials in the actor-sensor unit expand differently, mechanical stresses can arise which either damage the sensor or the actor or lead to false measurement values. This is reduced or excluded by the resilient assembly position and it is ensured that the substrate with the measurement elements is always in a fixed position relative to the actor and therefore to the measurement object. In the case of a round substrate the resilient element can be designed, for example, as a plate spring or a corrugated washer. However, even other resilient (elastic) elements can be used, for example even a suitable polymer, plastic, etc. A three-point support is favorable, which avoids a mechanically overdetermined system.
The basic problem is furthermore solved by a sensor according to claim 15. This sensor is characterized in that the measurement device is formed by at least two measurement elements which are spatially separate from one another.
In order to avoid repetitions, reference is made regarding the design of the sensor according to the invention to the previous comments regarding the device of the invention and of the sensor realized in this device. The construction features of the sensor formed in the device according to the invention according to claim 1 can be expressly realized by the sensor according to the invention according to claim 15, so that this sensor can also have the previously cited advantages.
There are now various possibilities for designing and further developing the teaching of the present invention in an advantageous manner. Refer in this regard on the one hand to the claims subordinate to claim 1 and on the other hand to the following explanation of preferred exemplary embodiments of the invention using the drawings. Also, generally preferred embodiments and further developments of the teaching are explained in connection with the explanation of the preferred exemplary embodiments of the invention using the drawings. In the drawings
It is expressly pointed out at this point that the sensor 3 shown in the figures is or can be a part of the device according to the invention in accordance with the claims 1 to 14.
In order to avoid repetitions, refer regarding other advantageous embodiments of the device according to the invention and of the sensor according to the invention to the general part of the specification and to the attached claims
Finally, it is expressly pointed out that the previously described exemplary embodiments of the device according to the invention and of the sensor according to the invention serve only to explain the claimed teaching but are not limited to the exemplary embodiments.
- 1 Measurement object
- 2 Positioning element
- 3 Sensor
- 4 Measurement device
- 5, 5′, 5″ Measurement element
- 6 Substrate
- 7 Electrical connection
- 8 Evaluation electronics
- 9 Passage
- 10 Replacement circuit diagram
- 11 (Partial) coils
- 12 (Partial) electrodes
- 13 Separate substrate
- 14 Contact pins
- 15 Passage
- 16 Flexible conductor
- 17 Line
- 18 Corrugated washer
- 19 Actor housing
- 20 Stop