There are various types of slip rings available in the market and it is upon the design engineers to understand all instructions and specifications required before initiating the manufacturing process. Popular slip ring types include bore, PCB, USB, Pancake, and electric and fiber optic slip rings, among others. Although slip rings perform the same function, which is to transmit electricity (power) or data signals between stationary and moving parts, these electromechanical devices are application-specific. Even the standard models and designs may fail to work with your component. As such, it is essential to outline all your requirements and specifications before ordering slip rings. Here is a brief overview of the critical distinctions between electric and fiber optic slip rings.
What Are Electric Slip Rings
An electrical slip ring can be used to refer to virtually all slip rings since they are rotary electric joints. Slip rings are designed to transfer signals from a stationary part, usually comprised of graphite brushes or those made from other metallic alloys to a rotating ring. The signal can be electric, data, or both. Electrical slip rings that can convert electronic signals in various rotating joints are some of the most common models you will come across.
What Are Fiber Optic Slip Rings
Fiber optic slip rings get their name from the technology and application. According to vendors, fiber optic slip rings are designed for optical signals just like electrical slip rings are optimized for electric signals. They provide a way to transmit large amounts of data through a rotating joint. Compared to other slip rings, fiber optics are often preferable as they benefit from the intrinsic end-to-end advantages of fiber.
Differences in Application
The key differences between electric and fiber optic slip ring surfaces in their applications. While all slip rings serve the same purpose, each model is designed for specific applications, operation requirements, and equipment where the device will be installed. The first main distinction in slip rings is the transmission. Slip rigs designed for power transmission often feature composite brushes made of carbon and graphite. They may also feature copper and silver to increase current density. Slip rings for data transmission and other sensitive voltages usually feature precious metals for contact brushes and conductor rings. Electric slip rings are generally designed to transmit power signals, but you can find models built for data communication. Fiber optic cables, on the other hand, are ideal for data transmission, especially in situations that need high bandwidth, multiple contacts, and extreme data reliability. You can also find hybrid fiber optic slip rings that can transmit both power and data signals.
Electrical And Mechanical Differences
Most fiber optic slip rigs assume the pancake or flat design so you can find pancake fiber optic slip rings. However, you can find various designs modeled for the unique application and operating environments. Electric slip rings can assume any design or model depending on the machinery used and the intended application. There are minor mechanical specification differences other than the material used. Electrical specifications, on the other hand, may vary greatly, as fiber optic slip rings can accommodate more circuits and channels compared to standard electrical slip rings. Nonetheless, the mechanical and electrical differences between slip rings are dictated by the unique applications, operating conditions, and equipment where the device will be installed.
Finding the Best Slip Ring for Your Needs
There are several factors to consider when choosing between electric and fiber optic slip rings. With so many options in the market, finding the proper slip ring requires comprehensive review and comparison. Here are a few insights to help you find the ideal slip ring for your needs.
1. Outline the Specifications
It is crucial to outline all the specifications needed for the slip ring you seek. If you are looking for new slip rings to replace an old one, you can use the old device to find the exact replacement model. Finding unique slip rings, on the other hand, can be daunting, especially if it is the first time. It is recommended to list down the crucial specifications and operation requirements before comparing existing options. For instance, if your slip rings are to be used outdoors, they should be weatherproof and capable of withstanding destructive elements. It is also important to specify if the slip ring is used in mining, military, and other explosive or great-height environments.
2. Find Reputable Brands And Manufacturers
There are several reliable slip ring vendors in the market, including Sending, Mouflon, Rotarx, and others. Although most manufacturers provide functional slip rings, there are differences across existing models. Some also feature advanced technology and properties. The easiest way to ensure you get reliable slip rings for your needs is to make an order from trustworthy vendors and brands. You can check user reviews and expert ratings to determine brands and models that command a better market reputation and positive comments from users.
3. Customize Your Slip Ring
Both electric and fiber optic slip rings are application-specific, so it is essential to make custom orders for unique use. Your application may require a broader through-bore diameter, denser material, or more contact brushes. The material and dimensions are very critical when choosing a slip ring. You can also consult your vendor for professional insights and recommendations. Most vendors provide standard slip-ring models for typical applications, so you can still find the ideal design for your use without needing any custom modifications.
A fiber optic slip ring provides unique properties and benefits that may merit its installation in specific applications. There are several models and designs available, although slip rings are often customized to the client’s requirements. Unless you are using conventional electric motors, you will probably require some customization. It is also essential to choose designs that will fit the equipment you are using. A good rule of thumb is to compare the best models from reputable brands and vendors. You can also compare individual designs, materials used in the brushes and contact rings, technology, housing, insulation, and more. While most electric and fiber optic slip rings provided are functional, the priority is to take advantage of advanced materials and technology used by the top vendors.