With the increase in the demand for automation, slip rings have become an integral part of various industries including agriculture, aerospace, pharmaceuticals, etc. They have become a vital component of several electromechanical systems.
The slip rings are commonly used in cable reels, radio telescopes, wind turbines, rotating tanks, heliostats, power shovels, CT scans, aerodrome beacons, and more.
In the past few years, the use of slip rings has risen exponentially in the robotics industry. It is considered one of the smartest technologies that have helped in improving the mechanical and electrical performance of robots.
These slip rings are also known as robotic rotatory joints or robotic slip rings.
What are Slip Rings?
A slip ring is an electrochemical device that is used to transmit electrical signals and power from a stationary inlet to a rotating outlet. These rotating connectors are in applications that require unrestricted rotation while transmitting data.
A typical slip ring consists of two major parts: a rotating metal ring and a metal brush contact. The number of metallic rings and brushes in a slip ring depends on the machine’s type and function.
Brushes are made of either graphite or phosphor bronze, whereas metal with good conductivity (brass or silver) is used to make rings.
When rings start rotating, power or signal is transmitted through brushes, making a continuous connection between the stationary (metal brush) and the rotating (metal ring) components.
Moflon’s Slip Rings
MOFLON slip rings are built to withstand harsh environmental conditions such as acidic and salty media as well as extreme vibrations. Furthermore, our products ensure the overall reliability of the equipment system.
Moflon has extensive expertise in a wide range of slip ring designs and applications thanks to their database of over 10,000 slip ring drawings. End-of-shift, over-the-shaft, and in-shaft mounting are just some of the available options for installation.
The finest components, including solid coin silver rings, gold-gold contacts, graphite and silver brushes, stainless steel, and aluminum alloys, are used in the production of MOFLON slip rings. MOFLON uses high-tech CNC machinery and skilled staff to complete its tasks, such as the assembly of slip rings.
Types of Slip Rings
Slip rings are generally classified based on their size and construction.
Types of slip rings are:
- Pancake Slip Rings
- Mercury Contact Slip Rings
- Through Hole Slip Rings
- Ethernet Slip Rings
- Miniature Slip Rings
- Fibre Optic Slip Rings
- Wireless Slip Rings
Robotics and Slip Rings
The basic robotic structure is quite complicated. Some of the challenges faced in robot construction are
- Installation and maintenance inconvenience
- Unrestricted 360-degree rotation
- The complicated structure of existing rotation joints in robots
The use of robotic slip rings helps overcome all the above-mentioned challenges. It not only provides flawless 360-degree joint rotation but also results in an uninterrupted power and data supply across the joints.
The slip rings can transmit various kinds of signals like encoder signals, USB, Ethernet, FireWire, strain gauges, Canbus, and more.
Basic characteristics of robotic slip rings:
- Maintenance Free
- Long life
- Low Speed
- Solve the issue of stranded wires.
Types of robotic Slip Rings
- Industrial Robot Slip Rings
- Special Robot Slip Rings.
Slip Ring Application in Robotics
Slip rings have become an integral part of the robotic industry. Nowadays, they are used in almost all kinds of robots. It not only enables a comfortable rotation of the joints but also improves the overall productivity of the robot.
The most common uses of robotic slip rings
Outer Space – Slip rings are used in robots that carry out tasks on spaceships. These rings enhance the spaceship’s productivity by automating the onboard machinery’s programming. This saves the time and effort of the crew on board. Hence, it enables them to concentrate on other vital tasks. Furthermore, the use of slip rings in onboard space shuttles reduces the overall workload.
Heavy Labor – Robots are commonly used in industries where there is a task repetition, or that requires heavy labor. One of the best examples is transporting goods. The use of slip rings helps in increasing productivity by automating the process.
Pharmaceuticals and medical treatments – Slip rings are used in several surgical robots including CT scans, Laparoscopic robots, and more. The use of slip rings in surgical machinery provides consistency, and accuracy, and enhances precision at low speed.
Oil/Gas/Mining Industry – Robots are used at almost all stages of mining and oil-producing. Be it drilling, extracting, or pipe cleaning, robots are used widely all over the globe. The use of slip rings in drill robots enhances control. Similarly, the use of slip rings has made wireless pipe cleaning possible.
Other Robotic Uses – Slip rings are also commonly used in robots that are used in day-to-day applications. This includes vacuum/floor cleaning robots, robots used for cleaning swimming pools, drains, etc. Using robots for such jobs saves time as well as money.
Robotic Manipulators – Robotic Manipulation systems are used in different fields for serving different purposes. These systems help scientists in collecting, organizing, preparing, and store samples. The use of slip rings in these robots enhances the data or sample accuracy.
Advantages of using Slip Rings in Robotics
These tiny devices are found in various robots. Though their major function is to form a connection between the stationary and the rotating part of the machinery, they are considered crucial for the smooth working of a robot.
Some of the advantages of slip rings are discussed below:
Slip Rings can fit everywhere and everything – For every robot, at least one slip ring is available on the market. An exhaustive variety of slip rings are available on the market. They come in all shapes, designs, and sizes. These two-in-one devices not only act as a rotatory joint but also enable easy transmission of data and signals. These rings are a one-stop solution for wire winding issues in robots.
Helps in securing joints and reducing hazards – Slip rings not only provide a more secure joint but also help in removing hazards by replacing dangling wires at a robotic joint. Furthermore, it smoothens operations and enhances efficiency.
Increasing the flexibility – A slip ring allows a robot to achieve 360 degrees of rotation. This not only increases flexibility but also enhances accuracy, efficiency, and control even at a low speed.
Better communication and coordination – Slip rings allow the machine to transfer multiple signals at any given point in time. This results in better coordination and communication among various parts of the robot. Thus, allows different parts of robots to simultaneously perform a specific function at a particular time.
Though smaller in size, slip rings are used to perform different functions in the robotic industry. They not only help in enhancing effortless rotation in the robotic joint but also improve the overall working and productivity of the machine.