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Slip Ring Options for Limited Height Applications

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Posted June 13, 2019

Eliminating troublesome wires and excessively complex designs from your project through the use of slip rings is as easy as finding the correct option for your particular application’s needs.

In the case of limited height applications, there are more options to choose from than you may be aware of. Space constraints and restrictive assembly processes can make slip ring designs housed in capsules impossible or extremely inconvenient to use. Such scenarios can be handled through the use of less common slip rings much more effectively.

Slip ring assembly process. Image credit: Moflon

Slip ring assembly process. Image credit: Moflon

You can maintain secure and continuous connections between moving parts and stationary elements, even in quite limited spaces, by choosing more appropriate slip ring designs. Here, we’ve detailed a number of slip ring options for limited height applications that could potentially be perfect for your project. Read on for details on these as well as some useful information on selecting the right slip rings for systems where space is in short supply.

1. Printed Circuit Board or PCB Slip Rings

Printed circuit board slip rings are named after the material they are comprised of. By using flat printed circuits, these slip rings can fit into extremely narrow spaces. PCB slip rings are generally low in weight and can come in a variety of formats.

Our MPCB Series PCB slip rings come with precious metal contacts to maximize signal transfer reliability.

2. Pancake, Platter or Plate Slip Rings

So-called pancake slip rings are named after their shape. Where most slip rings have a block or capsule design, pancake slip rings do not. Instead, these have a flat and circular form for full contact to be made in minimal vertical space.

The comparatively small axial length allows this slip ring design to fit into extremely narrow locations as needed. However, it is important to note that this design comes with its fair share of drawbacks and should only be used when it is necessary for the task at hand. In comparison to other options, pancake slip rings tend to weigh more, take up more space overall and generate much more signal cross-talk during operation. Brushes on this variety of slip ring can also wear out alarmingly fast when compared to others.

Our MP210 Series pancake slip rings boast of an aluminum alloy structure with precious metal contacts to help minimize weight without sacrificing signal transmission quality.

3. Separated Slip Rings or “Separates” (MSP Series)

Slip rings that come in two parts as opposed to a single encapsulated unit are often referred to as “separates”. These kinds of slip rings are much more suitable for custom configurations than other alternatives; they allow for both parts of the slip ring to be mounted as per your project’s unique requirements. Specific bearing systems and spacing requirements alike are best facilitated through the use of separated slip rings.

These slip rings consist of a separate rotor, which can move continuously, and a stator, which provides the stationary brushes upon which the rotor spins.

Our MSP380 separated slip rings feature a V-groove design that allows for low torque and minimal electrical noise during operation.

Additional Tips for Choosing the Perfect Slip Rings

Now that you know a bit about the best slip ring options for limited height applications, here are a few additional tips to help you find exactly what your project requires:

Choose Precious Metals to Improve Slip Ring Performance

Low noise and exceptional conductivity characterize slip rings constructed using precious metals. In contrast with stainless steel, bronze and other less effective conductors, precious metals are much more stable. This allows slip rings made of such metals to provide far more consistent transferal results overall.

Choose the Right Slip Ring Configuration

Slip rings are constructed in two primary configurations to meet a range of design demands:

– Through Bore Configurations

Slip rings constructed in a through bore fashion feature a hollow space in their center that can be used for a number of important purposes. Should your project require the use of hydraulic routing tubes or that the rotor be mounted on a moving shaft, then this configuration is ideal.

– Drum Configurations

The drum variety of slip rings is the most common and features a rotor assembly that stacks conductive metal rings in a tall tube shape to spin against stationary brush contacts. Limited height applications tend to demand alternatives to this standard configuration.

Choose Slip Rings for Transmitting Power, Data or Both

– Power transmission

Transmitting power, especially at high voltages, requires suitable conductors that can withstand heat and other conditions associated with power transferal.

– Data transmission

Data transmitting requires far less power than pure power transmission, but conductive materials must be especially sensitive to avoid losing data packets along the way.

Transmitting data and power simultaneously requires the use of multiple circuits in a single rotor assembly. Each path or trace of the assembly must be wired and designed to support its intended purpose.

Take Toxicity Into Consideration

Certain material choices for slip rings could prove to be toxic to surrounding people, machinery or the environment. These options should be avoided if your project’s demands include adherence to non-toxic standards.

Mercury is the main offender in this case and can cause serious problems if a leak occurs in a sterile environment. Precious metals have the upper hand here as well, thanks to non-toxic deterioration characteristics. Choose silver alloy and gold contacts to minimize toxicity risks in your project.

Slip Rings Can Help in Small Spaces

Although your device may present the challenge of limited space for a standard slip ring assembly to be comfortably housed, the use of any of the options that were covered in this article is still on the table.

Hopefully, after reading this article, you have a much better understanding of available slip ring technology and can more effectively choose between various slip ring options for limited height applications. The options mentioned above can fit into exceedingly narrow spaces without sacrificing performance in any major way. If you know which slip ring will work best for your needs, choose precisely what you require from the wide variety of slip rings available in the MOFLON catalog.

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