Innovations in Absolute and Incremental Linear Encoder Technology


Before deciding which linear encoder to get, you have to know the difference between incremental and absolute encoders. Incremental encoders are inexpensive, easy to use, and simple to integrate, but you must establish a home or reference position for the machine. While an absolute encoder does not need homing, it is more expensive to implement. With recent innovations in magnetic linear encoders, you may not need to make that choice.

About Incremental Encoders

Incremental encoders are simple and straightforward to use. These encoders generate digital pulses to show relative position movement. The number of pulses represents the number of position movements. By counting the pulses and doing some simple calculations, you can determine the number of movement from point A to point B.

However, you do not get to establish where you end up. You can only determine how far you have moved from the starting point. If you want to know where you are, you need to have a reference position that you can continuously count from.

About Absolute Encoders

For more advanced measurements, you will need to work with the best absolute linear encoder manufacturers. Absolute encoders are preferred by users because they show their absolute position at all times. There is no need to set a reference point with this type of linear encoders.

However, these encoders are quite challenging to implement, and they cost more. You will need a dedicated motion module equipped with a synchronous serial interface. They are more complex to integrate, requiring a higher level of programming logic. That makes the barriers to entry extremely high for absolute encoders.

Recent Innovations

Combining the simplicity and affordability of incremental encoders with the capability of absolute encoders to provide absolute position is ideal. A recent innovation is able to deliver both.

With a magnetic linear encoder equipped with the Absolute Quadrature interface, you can get A/B quadrature signals. It also gives you the ability to view the absolute position. The advantages of Absolute Quadrature linear encoders include:

  • Cost-effective: You can use them with standard A/B incremental interfaces and existing controllers, so you do not need to make hardware upgrades. They do not require absolute controllers and a home or reference point.
  • Highly accurate: It achieves a resolution down to 1 micrometer for a maximum length of 48 meters.
  • Easy to implement: It requires a simple setup and, at most, very minimal new programming.

Work Only With the Best Linear Encoder Manufacturers

Maintenance Diagnostic Systems, Inc. offers a portfolio of top-notch linear encoders, including optical linear encoders. We partner with the industry’s top manufacturers, including Renishaw and Lion Precision, to provide the highest quality products that will last a long time. Give us a call today, and we can help you choose the fitting linear encoders for your business.

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