Automated machinery relies heavily on feedback information to ensure operations run smoothly. Encoder discs play a key role in that endeavor—ensuring accuracy and efficiency in today’s warehouses, robotics, assembly lines, and more. Let’s take a look at one of the many different encoder options available on the market: the optical linear encoder. 


The Optical Linear Encoder: Precise Measurement for Machining 

Optical linear encoders are small devices used to record changes in linear position and speed.

These encoders feature a scanning unit, sensor, read head, and most importantly, an encoder scale (removed “or film”). The encoder scale is the most important aspect of the encoder as its intricate designs dictate the changes in motion. 

The more intricate your scale is, the more accurate your measurements of movement will be. 


How Do Encoders Keep Tools on Target? 

Linear encoders are vital to machine tools’ overall operation, particularly the efficiency and accuracy of those tools. 

As the encoder sensors pass over the scale or strip, the light will either be obscured or visible to the sensor. Although this depends on its position in relation to the scale. Any changes in visibility transcribe into position data. 

The computer can tell how far the encoder has traveled by knowing how many times light exposes the sensor. The linear optical encoder ensures accuracy and precision when operating different types of mechanical technology like robotics, conveyor belts, and more.

The optical linear encoder acts as the “checks and balances” for movement. This ensures the mechanism moves exactly as intended, down to sub-micron. This is especially important for intricate movements of potentially hazardous mechanisms like saws, drills, laser-cutting tools, and more.

Of course, any mechanism comes with drawbacks. Since linear optical encoders rely on a clear delineation between light that’s either visible or obscured to the sensor through the scale, environmental debris, and motion feedback (vibrations, shaking, etc.) can affect accuracy. 

Luckily, the team at Photo Solutions is here to help you find the right encoder option for you. 


Photo Solutions’ Optical Linear Encoder Options

With reflective and transmissive optical linear encoder options available in glass, mylar, and aluminum, our team of experts has a combined 30 years of experience developing custom encoder discs and scales. 

You can check out the available encoder scale options and connect with our team to find the best option for your next project.