Sunteți pe pagina 1din 28

What is a sensor?

Sensor Basics
Understanding fundamental principles and features

01 Photoelectric Sensors 04 Ultrasonic Sensors

02 Inductive Proximity Sensors 05 Vision Sensors

03 Contact Sensors

“Sensors” have now become crucial to improve productivity.

There is a wide variety of sensors, each has its strengths and

weaknesses. This document is designed to serve as a textbook

to learn the basics of sensors/measuring instruments based on

“detection principles.”

Utilize and share this textbook as a resource for all those involved

with sensors.

Table of Contents

Photoelectric sensors P04

Photoelectric Sensors
Detection based Fiberoptic sensors P08
01 on “light”

“Received light”
recognition type P12
Laser sensors
recognition type P14

Proximity sensors P16

Inductive Proximity Sensors
Detection based
02 on “eddy current”
Inductive displacement sensors P20

Contact Sensors
Detection based Contact-type displacement sensors P21
03 on “contact”

Ultrasonic Sensors
Detection based Ultrasonic sensors P25
04 on “ultrasonic”

Vision sensors
Detection based Vision sensors P27
05 on “images”

01 Photoelectric Sensors

Detection based on “light” Photoelectric sensors

❚ Outline

A photoelectric sensor emits a light beam (visible or infrared) from its light-emitting element.
A reflective-type photoelectric sensor is used to detect the light beam reflected from the target.
A thrubeam type sensor is used to measure the change in light quantity caused by the target crossing
the optical axis.

❚ Principle and major types

A beam of light is emitted from the light emitting element and is received by the light
receiving element.

Both the light emitting and light Transmitter/Receiver

Reflective Light emitting element
model receiving elements are contained
in a single housing. The sensor
Reflected light
receives the light reflected from the Light receiving

The transmitter and receiver Transmitter Target Receiver

are separated. When the target
is between the transmitter and Signal light Signal light is
Light emitting interrupted. Light receiving
receiver, the light is interrupted. element element

Retro- Both the light emitting and light Transmitter/Receiver Reflector

Light emitting element Target
reflective receiving elements are contained
model in same housing. The light from the
Signal light is
emitting element hits the reflector Light receiving interrupted.
and returns to the light receiving
element. When a target is present,
the light is interrupted.

01 Photoelectric Sensors

Detection based on “light” Photoelectric sensors

❚ Features

¨ Non-contact detection
Since detection is possible without contact, there will
be no damage to targets. The sensor itself will not
be damaged either, ensuring long service life and
maintenance-free operation.

¨ Almost all materials detectable

Since the sensor either detects targets based on the
reflectivity or the quantity of interrupted light, almost
all kinds of materials are detectable. This includes
glass, metal, plastic, wood, and liquid.

¨ Long detecting distance

Photoelectric sensors are generally high power and
allow long-range detection.

KEYENCE’s PZ-G Series has built-in with light
“Alignment indicators” that are obvious,
Tip even from long distances.
When the optical axes are aligned, the
Alignment indicator illuminates on the
receiver. The light can be seen clearly even
from a long distance so a single operator can
align the sensors easily and quickly.

01 Photoelectric Sensors

Detection based on “light” Photoelectric sensors

❚ Classification

Type Detection configuration Features

Detection occurs when the target crosses the optical axis between
Target transmitter and receiver.
• Long-detecting distance
Thrubeam • Stable detecting position
Transmitter Receiver
• Opaque objects detectable regardless of shape, color or material
• Powerful beam

Detection occurs when the target crosses the optical axis between sensor
Target head and reflector.
• Reflector allows installation in a limited space
• Simple wiring
reflective • Longer detecting distance than the diffuse-reflective sensor type
Transmitter/receiver Reflector • Easily-adjustable optical axis
• Opaque objects detectable regardless of shape, color, or material

Target Detection occurs when the light beam, emitted to the target, is reflected by
the target and received.
Diffuse- • Space-saving (requires installation of sensor unit only)
reflective • Adjustment of optical axis not required
Transmitter/receiver • Reflective transparent objects detectable
• Color differentiation possible

Target Detection occurs when the beam spot, emitted to the target, is reflected by
Focused- the target and received.
• Minute objects detectable
beam • Target markings detectable
reflective Transmitter/receiver • Detection possible through narrow openings between machines
• Visible beam spot

Target The transmitting and receiving portions are constructed at an angle,

Small-spot allowing detection within the limited area where the optical axes intersect.
• Effect of target background is minimal
definite • Low hysteresis
reflective • Slight height differences are detectable
Transmitter/receiver • Visible beam spot

Transmitter/receiver Target Detects the target at a specific distance according to the angle of the
reflected light beam.
Fixed- • Unaffected by highly reflective targets or backgrounds
distance • Stable detection of materials with varying reflectance and color
• Highly accurate detection of minute objects
• Visible beam spot

Transmitter/ When the light beam hits a target, the beam reflects differently according
receiver Target
to the luster of the target. The sensor detects the difference in luster based
Luster on how the beam reflects (specular or diffusive).
recognition • On-line detection is possible.
• Detection is not affected by target color.
• Transparent targets can be detected.

01 Photoelectric Sensors

Detection based on “light” Photoelectric sensors

❚ Other variations

There are various types of photoelectric sensors depending on environment or installation location. The following
are typical classifications which allow you to select photoelectric sensors more suitable for your environment.

Self-contained type Setup and feedback is found on

the sensor unit itself. These units
are typically a little larger.

based on
the amplifier is Separate-amplifier type An amplifier is separate from
the sensor head to allow for
separated or not remote setting and feedback.
This allows the sensor head to
be smaller and more flexible to

Plastic housing type The housing is made of plastic.

Most models are relatively
lightweight; however, their frame
strength is inferior to that of the
metal housing type.

based on
housing material Metal housing type The housing is made of metal
such as stainless steel. This type
is robust and has long service
life compared to the plastic
housing type.

01 Photoelectric Sensors

Detection based on “light” Fiberoptic sensors

❚ Outline

The fiberoptic sensor has an optical fiber connected to a light source to allow for detection in tight
spaces or where a small profile is beneficial.

❚ Principle and major types

The optical fiber consists of the core and the cladding, Optical fiber configuration
Core (high refractive index)
which have different refractive indexes. The light beam LED

travels through the core by repeatedly bouncing off the Cladding

(low refractive index)
wall of the cladding. The light beam, having passed
through the fiber without any loss in light quantity, is
dispersed at an angle of approximately 60° and emitted
to the target. Approx. 60°

The cores are divided into the following types:

Plastic type
The core of the plastic-fiber consists of one or more acrylic-resin fibers 0.25 to 1 mm 0.01" to 0.04" in diameter,
encased in a polyethylene sheath. Plastic fibers are light, cost-effective, and flexible which is why they are the most
common type of fiber sensor.

Glass type
The glass-fiber consists of 10 to 100 μm 0.39 to 3.94 Mil diameter glass fibers encased in stainless steel tubing.
This allows it to be used at high operating temperatures (350°C 662°F max.).

The optical fiber sensors are divided into two categories: Type Description
thrubeam and reflective. The thrubeam type comprises
Parallel Generally used for plastic fibers.
a transmitter and a receiver. The reflective type, which is
a single unit, is available in 3 types: parallel, coaxial, and High-precision type, consisting of a core (transmitter) and surrounding
Coaxial area (receiver). The operating position can remain the same regardless
separate. The 3 are based on the shape of the cross- of the direction from which the target enters the detecting area.

section of the optical fiber. This type, containing several 10 μm 0.39 Mil glass fibers
Separate in diameter, has separate areas for the transmitter and

01 Photoelectric Sensors

Detection based on “light” Fiberoptic sensors

❚ Features

¨ Versatile installation
A flexible optical fiber enables easy installation in limited
spaces such as a space between machines.

¨ Detection of extremely small targets

The extremely compact sensor head allows for easy
detection of extremely small targets.

¨ Excellent environmental resistance

Since no electric current flows through the optical fiber
cable, the sensor is unaffected by electrical noise. The
heat-resistant type fiber unit enables detection in high
temperature environments.

KEYENCE’s FS-N Series of fiberoptic amplifier

Tip allows connection of more than 100 types of
special fiber units.
It has various features to improve stability,
such as the automatic maintenance function
which automatically compensates for dust and
dirt build up.

01 Photoelectric Sensors

Detection based on “light” Fiberoptic sensors

❚ Classification

Fiber units have many variations. Because the fiber does not house any of the electronic components, there are
very few limitations on size and shape. The following is a classification example of KEYENCE’s fiber units
(FU Series).

Threaded and Hex-shaped Cylindrical Integrated bracket


Fibers (Set Screw Installation)


Threaded for easy Suitable for installation in The sensor is integrated

mounting onto brackets locations where space is limited. into an L‑shaped
and machine equipment. Installed by drilling a hole bracket, which simplifies
and using a set screw installation.

Small Spot Reflective Focused Beam/High power

Small Spot/Focused

Great for small object detection. Use of a lens reduces the field of view

Spot size and focal distance are based on the aperture angle.
adjustable, so there is no need to This narrow beam helps
change the distance between avoid deflection and is suitable for
the sensor and the target. detecting objects at longer distances.

Retro-reflective Definite-reflective
Transparent object

Effective for detecting transparent objects. Detects within a fixed range.


The beam passes through the (transparent) Reduces background effects

target twice, so light attenuation and features a space‑saving,
increases. thin profile design.

Flat Bracket Fibers Sleeve

Small space

This thin profile sensor comes The thin sleeve design eliminates
with mounting holes for problems caused by limited mounting space
installation where space and allows the sensor to be placed closer to the
is limited. target. Lineup includes side‑view and
bendable sleeve types.

Oil/Chemical Resistant High-flex Heat Resistant


The fluorocarbon resin Provides higher flexibility Ideal for use in high
coating allows these fibers than an electric wire. temperature applications.
to be used in almost any Resistant to 30 million Withstands temperatures up
environment, including oil or bends! to 350°C 662°F.
chemical‑splash conditions.

Area Liquid-level Vacuums

Dedicated application

The wide‑area beam is ideal for Accurate liquid level detection Can be used in vacuum
applications where there is sensors are available in and high temperature
variance in target position transparent tube-mount or environment.
and for detecting multiple immersion type models.
shapes or moving targets.

01 Photoelectric Sensors

Detection based on “light” Fiberoptic sensors

❚ Key terms for selection

The following is the key terms for selecting a fiber unit and their meaning.

Fiber unit length The length of a fiber unit. A longer fiber unit can be installed at a location
farther from the fiberoptic amplifier.

Ambient temperature The range of temperature in which the fiber unit can be used. To use
a fiber unit at high ambient temperature, it is recommended to select
a heat-resistant type.

Bend radius The index indicating the maximum radius in which the fiber unit can be bent
and still operate without problems. Fiber units with smaller bend radius are
beneficial in locations where routing is difficult.

Detecting distance The distance from which the sensor can detect targets.

Optical axis diameter This index is mainly used for thrubeam model fiber units. For thrubeam fiber
units, this is the size of object that will obstruct the optical axis entirely.

Minimum detectable The size of the smallest target which the fiber unit can detect.

01 Photoelectric Sensors
Detection based on “light”
Laser sensors: “Received light” recognition type

❚ Outline

A laser sensor uses a “laser” to emit light in a straight line. Its visible beam spot makes alignment and
positioning very easy. Since the light beam is focused, the sensor can be installed without worries
about stray light.

❚ Principle and major types

A light beam is emitted from the light emitting element (laser) in the transmitter
and is received with the light receiving element in the receiver.

Reflective Light emitting element
Reflected light
Light receiving

Transmitter Target Receiver

Signal light Signal light is
Light emitting interrupted. Light receiving
element element

Transmitter/Receiver Reflector
Light emitting element Target
Signal light is
Light receiving interrupted.

01 Photoelectric Sensors
Detection based on “light”
Laser sensors: “Received light” recognition type

❚ Features

¨ Visible beam spot for easy installation

Unlike LED light, a laser travels in a straight line so that
the position of the beam spot can be identified quickly.
This greatly reduces installation time compared to
photoelectric sensors.

¨ Long detecting distance

The beam spot remains small over a long range, eliminating
any concern about the detecting distance.

¨ Small beam spot ensuring high accuracy

The minimum beam spot of 50 μm 1.97 Mil
(among KEYENCE lineup) allows for reliable detection of
small targets.

¨ Detection through a narrow space

The focused light allows for detection of targets through a
narrow space.

With KEYENCE sensors, sensitivity can be

set easily with a push of a button.
Tip Moreover, the full lineup conforms to Class 1
laser requirements, ensuring safe operation
(LV-N Series).

01 Photoelectric Sensors
Detection based on “light”
Laser sensors: “Position” recognition type

❚ Outline

This type of sensor detects the position of a target. This is achieved by using a triangulation system or
a time measurement system.

❚ Principle and major types

Triangulation system Example of a reflective model CMOS sensor

The change in the distance to the [At reference distance] [Shorter distance] [Longer distance]
Light receiving element
target affects the position of the Semiconductor
light concentrated on the CMOS
Transmitter lens
detecting element. This information
is used for detecting the target lens


The laser emits a laser beam to the target as shown above. The light reflected off the target is concentrated by the
receiver lens and forms an image on the light receiving element. When the distance changes, the concentrated
light reflects at a different angle and the position of the image changes accordingly.

Time measurement system Example of a reflective model Time of Flight (TOF) sensor

The distance is measured based on the [At reference distance]

time in which the emitted laser beam

Distance to the target: Y
returns to the sensor after hitting the
target. The detection is unaffected by the
Laser pulse emission
surface condition of the target.

Received light
Time before the reflected light is received: T

In the figure to the right, the sensor detects the time (T) that is the time until the reflected laser beam is received
to calculate the distance (Y). The calculation formula is: 2Y (go-and-return distance) = C (light speed) × T (time
before the reflected light is received)

01 Photoelectric Sensors
Detection based on “light”
Laser sensors: “Position” recognition type

❚ Features

Not just for presence detection - measurement is also possible

Certain models can measure distance and position with higher accuracy than a simple sensor. The following
are some examples of KEYENCE products:

CCD A laser is emitted from a

thrubeam model transmitter and then is received
IG Series by a CCD light receiving element.
The area where the laser is
interrupted is identified clearly on
the CCD. This model can be used
for in-line position detection or
outer diameter measurement of a

High accuracy Reflected light is received with a

CMOS CMOS light receiving element and
reflective model the position is determined based
IL/IA Series on the triangulation principle.
This model can output the position
information with an analog signal.

02 Inductive Proximity Sensors

Detection based on “eddy current” Proximity sensors

❚ Outline

A proximity sensor can detect metal targets approaching the sensor, without physical contact with
the target. Proximity sensors are roughly classified into the following three types according to the
operating principle: the high-frequency oscillation type using electromagnetic induction, the magnetic
type using a magnet, and the capacitance type using the change in capacitance.

❚ Principle and major types

A high-frequency magnetic field is generated by coil L in the oscillation circuit. When High-frequency magnetic field
a target approaches the magnetic field, an induction current (eddy current) flows in
the target due to electromagnetic induction. As the target approaches the sensor, the Target (Metal)
Internal circuit
induction current flow increases, which causes the load on the oscillation circuit to
increase. Then, oscillation attenuates or stops. The sensor detects this change in the
oscillation status with the amplitude detecting circuit, and outputs a detection signal. Sensing coil
[Metal object present]
[Metal object absent]

The nonferrous-metal type is included in the high-frequency oscillation type. The nonferrous-metal type incorporates an
oscillation circuit in which energy loss caused by the induction current flowing in the target affects the change of the oscillation
metal type
frequency. When a nonferrous-metal target such as aluminum or copper approaches the sensor, the oscillation frequency
increases. On the other hand, when a ferrous-metal target such as iron approaches the sensor, the oscillation frequency
decreases. When the oscillation frequency becomes higher than the reference frequency, the sensor outputs a detection signal.
[Aluminum object present]
[Aluminum object absent]

Magnetic objects and non-magnetic objects

Remember that magnetic objects are easily attracted by a magnet, whereas non-magnetic objects are not.

Magnetism Strong Weak

Detecting distance of
Long Short
general-purpose model
Detecting distance of
Short Long
aluminum detection model
Typical metal Iron/SUS440 SUS304* Aluminum/brass/copper
* SUS304 has an intermediate property.

02 Inductive Proximity Sensors

Detection based on “eddy current” Proximity sensors

❚ Features

¨ Detecting metal only Plastic Metal

Inductive proximity sensors can only detect metal targets.

They do not detect non-metal targets such as plastic, wood,
paper, and ceramic. Unlike photoelectric sensors, this
allows a proximity sensor to detect a metal object through
opaque plastic.

¨ Excellent environmental resistance

Proximity sensors are durable. For example, all KEYENCE
sensor head models satisfy the IP67 requirements by
sealing the inside with filling material or other measures.
Since these sensors only detect metal objects, the detection
is not affected by accumulated dust or oil splash on the
sensor head.

Two-wire type proximity sensors allow

simplified wiring and can be used for both
Tip NPN and PNP circuits.
Another advantage is that their current
consumption is extremely low such as
1 mA (EV Series).

02 Inductive Proximity Sensors

Detection based on “eddy current” Proximity sensors

❚ Classification

General-purpose model
Type Self-contained Amplifier-in-cable Separate-amplifier

Model EV, EZ EM ES

Sensitivity adjustment Not possible Not possible Possible

Sensor head size Large Small

Accuracy Low High

Aluminum detection model

Type Self-contained

Model ED

Iron detection Possible (See the characteristic diagram for details.)

Sensitivity adjustment Not possible

Classification 1
Self-contained type • The sensor can be used as soon as the
(EV, EZ, ED) power is turned on. (Simplified wiring)
Oscillation Detection Output
circuit circuit circuit • Sensitivity adjustment not possible

Sensing coil

Separate-amplifier Sensor head Amplifier unit • Small sensor head

(Wiring is required between the sensor
type (ES)
Oscillation Detection Output head and amplifier.)
circuit circuit circuit
• Longer detecting distance compared with
the self-contained type
Sensing coil Coaxial cable • Fine adjustment is possible with a
sensitivity adjustment trimmer, which
enables high accuracy detection.

Amplifier-in-cable Sensor head Amplifier unit • The sensor can be used as soon as the
power is turned on. (Simplified wiring)
type (EM)
Oscillation Detection Output • Small sensor head and amplifier
circuit circuit circuit
• Sensitivity adjustment not possible

Sensing coil Coaxial cable

02 Inductive Proximity Sensors

Detection based on “eddy current” Proximity sensors

❚ Classification

Classification 2

Flush mounting
Shielded type
The side of the sensing coil is covered with
metal shielding. This type can be used by being
embedded in metal. (Excluding the EM Series)

Non-shielded type
Countersinking required
The side of the sensing coil is not covered
with metal shielding. This type offers a longer
detecting distance compared with the shielded B

type. Since the sensor is easily affected by

surrounding metal objects, attention is required
for the mounting position.

02 Inductive Proximity Sensors
Detection based on “eddy current”
Inductive displacement sensors

“Inductive displacement sensors” not only detect the presence of a target but also measure
the distance to a target.

(1) EX-V, EX-200 and AS Series

As the target approaches the sensor head, the eddy current loss increases and oscillation amplitude becomes
smaller accordingly. This oscillation amplitude is rectified to obtain DC voltage variations.
Target (Metal) Target Far Near Far

Oscillation amplitude

Near Rectified signal

Sensor head 0V

The rectified signal and distance have an approximate proportional relationship. The linearization circuit corrects
the linearity to obtain a linear output that is proportional to the distance.
Analog voltage output

100% 100%
Output voltage

Output voltage

Final output

0 Measuring distance 0 Measuring distance

(2) EX-500 Series (All metal type)

As a target approaches the sensor head, the oscillation amplitude becomes smaller and the phase difference
from the reference waveform becomes larger. By detecting changes in the amplitude and phase, the sensor can
obtain a value approximately proportional to the distance. Then, a high-accuracy linearization processing corrects
the value digitally based on the target material, to obtain a linear output that is proportional to the distance.

Reference waveform
The EX-500 Series detects both amplitude
and phase difference to enable detection
of nonferrous metals such as copper
and aluminum so that it can be an all
metal supporting sensor. When only the
magnitude of the amplitude is detected, it
Distance: Far Distance: Middle Distance: Near
is hard to determine whether it is changing
due to the change in the material or due to
the distance to the target. Therefore, the
sensor detects the change in the phase as
Amplitude: Large Amplitude: Middle Amplitude: Small
Phase difference: Small Phase difference: Middle Phase difference: Large well to verify the change in the material.

03 Contact Sensors
Detection based on “contact”
Contact displacement sensors

❚ Outline

As the name indicates, this is a sensor

measuring the position of a target by
directly contacting it. When the height
of the spindle changes as shown in the Spindle
figure on the right, the sensor internally
calculates the amount of displacement. Contact
Contact displacement sensors are
mainly used for detecting the height,
thickness, or warpage of the target.

[Air push type measuring by extending a spindle]

Since measurement is possible with the sensor Standard model GT2 Air push type
head being fixed, no mechanism is required to No jigs
move the sensor head. This saves installation Since the sensor
can be fixed at the
space and greatly reduces man-hours during same position, no
Linear guide complicated jig is
installation. required. There is
Slotted jig also no errors due
Stopper to the influence of
a jig on accuracy.

❚ Features

The following table shows typical characteristics that vary depending on the detection system.

[Sensor type comparison based on the detection method]

Item Inductive Optical Ultrasonic Laser focus Contact

Detectable target Metal Almost all materials Almost all materials Almost all materials Solid

Measuring distance Short Normal Long Short Short

Accuracy High High Low High High

Response speed Fast Fast Slow Normal Slow

Dust, water, oil, etc. Unaffected Normal Normal Normal Unaffected

Measuring surface Normal Small Large Small Small

03 Contact Sensors
Detection based on “contact”
Contact displacement sensors

❚ Principle and major types

Contact-type displacement sensors are generally divided into the following two groups depending on
the detection method:
• “Differential transformer” method -> Method using a magnetic coil
• “Scale” method -> Method using an internal scale (ruler).
In addition, there is another method originally developed by KEYENCE:
• “Scale Shot System”
-> World’s first method in which a CMOS sensor records a unique pattern on an absolute value glass scale.

¨ Differential transformer method

The sensor using the differential transformer method has an internal coil that generates a magnetic field when a
current flows. When a core is inserted into it, the impedance of the coil changes according to the distance the
core is inserted, resulting in the change in the signal level. The sensor detects this change in signal level and
converts it into travel range.

❚ Structure of Coil ❚ When the cylinder extends ❚ When the cylinder retracts
the GT Series
Core Correction coil
Sensing coil

Linear ball bearing

Signal level

Signal level

Dust boot


• The “absolute position” can be obtained based on the signal level that changes in
Advantage accordance with the spindle position.
(No zero point adjustment necessary, no tracking errors)

• The accuracy decreases at the end of the spindle. Since the system is coil-based, the
Dis­ magnetic field is applied evenly around the center but is not consistent near the end.

• ‌Consideration should be given to the linearity and temperature characteristic, as they

can alter results.

03 Contact Sensors
Detection based on “contact”
Contact displacement sensors

❚ Principle and major types

¨ Scale method
• High accuracy (The accuracy basically depends on the resolution of the scale
Advantage markings.)
• No need to consider the linearity because the scale markings are consistent along
the entire scale.
• The temperature characteristics are good because the scale markings do not change
with varying temperature.

• When the spindle moves abruptly due to vibration or other reason, the response of
Dis­ the photoelectric sensor may delay, resulting in tracking errors.

03 Contact Sensors
Detection based on “contact”
Contact displacement sensors

❚ Principle and major types

¨ Scale Shot System (KEYENCE original principle)

Like typical scale method sensors, KEYENCE’s GT2 Series includes a transmitter, a receiver, and a scale within
the unit. However, its slits are not simple ones used by typical scale method sensors. The scale of the GT2 Series
uses slits with complex and unique patterns. The sensor can read this pattern to identify the spindle position.

(1) When the spindle moves, the absolute value scale moves accordingly.
(2) The CMOS sensor reads the complex pattern in the scale at high speed.
(3) The spindle position information is sent to the amplifier.

Scale Shot System Prism incorporated to

form parallel light.
World’s first, high-speed scale shot system using LED parallel light Easy mounting/
a CMOS sensor that absorbs light passing through Free from deformation Detachable cable Absolute value
an absolute value glass scale, which displays different Quarts glass scale scale
patterns depending on the position.

Advantages of the conventional scale (pulse count) method

High accuracy along the entire measuring range
Good temperature characteristics

Approx. 6 µs CMOS
shutter speed sensor
Advantages of the conventional differential transformer method CMOS sensor
No tracking errors * Shutter speed: Approx. 6 µs, Shooting interval: 1 ms
Absolute position detection

• Absolute position detection

Advantage • Since the sensor detects position information, it does not require zero point
adjustment and not produce tracking errors.
• The scale method ensures high accuracy in the entire measuring range.
• Good temperature characteristics

• Nothing in particular

04 Ultrasonic Sensors

Detection based on “ultrasonic” Ultrasonic sensors

❚ Outline and detection principle

As the name indicates, ultrasonic sensors measure distance by using ultrasonic waves.
The sensor head emits an ultrasonic wave and receives the wave reflected back from the target. Ultrasonic
sensors measure the distance to the target by measuring the time between the emission and reception.

Distance: L

An optical sensor has a transmitter and receiver, whereas an ultrasonic sensor uses a single ultrasonic element
for both emission and reception. In a reflective model ultrasonic sensor, a single oscillator emits and receives
ultrasonic waves alternately. This enables miniaturization of the sensor head.

[Distance calculation]

The distance can be calculated with the following formula:

Distance L = 1/2 × T × C
where L is the distance, T is the time between the emission and reception, and C is the sonic
speed. (The value is multiplied by 1/2 because T is the time for go-and-return distance.)

❚ Features

The following list shows typical characteristics enabled by the detection system.

[Transparent object detectable]

Since ultrasonic waves can reflect off a glass or liquid surface and return to the sensor head, even transparent
targets can be detected.

[Resistant to mist and dirt]

Detection is not affected by accumulation of dust or dirt.

[Complex shaped objects detectable]

Presence detection is stable even for targets such as mesh trays or springs.

04 Ultrasonic Sensors

Detection based on “ultrasonic” Ultrasonic sensors

❚ Outline and detection principle

¨ Comparison between optical sensors (reflective model) and ultrasonic sensors

Typical sensors used for distance measurement are optical sensors.
The following table shows the advantages and disadvantages when optical sensors and ultrasonic sensors are
Note that this table is based on KEYENCE products.

Item Optical (reflective model) * Ultrasonic

Detectable target Detection is affected by target materials/colors Detection is unaffected by target materials/colors

Detecting distance 1000 mm 3.94" max. 10 m 32.8' max.

Accuracy High Low

Response speed Fast Slow

Dust/water Affected Unaffected

Measuring range Small Large

* Excluding the Time of Flight (TOF) type

What is ultrasonic?
Note “Ultrasonic” generally refers to a “high pitch sound that is inaudible to humans.”
Sound is expressed by a unit called frequency (Hz). The greater the frequency,
the higher the pitch of sound becomes. The unit Hz (hertz) means the number of
oscillations per second. For example, a wave that oscillates 100 times in a second is
expressed as 100 Hz. The audible range for humans is said to be between about
20 Hz and 20 kHz. In other words, ultrasonic waves have a frequency of 20 kHz or

Familiar examples of devices using ultrasonic waves

In our ordinary life, the following ultrasonic sensors are used:
• Fish detector (used for fishery or bass fishing)
• Active sonar in a submarine (used for finding enemy submarines or battle ships)
• Back sonar for cars
(for detecting obstacles during backing a car to prevent single-car accident)

05 Vision Sensors

Detection based on “images” Vision sensors

❚ Outline
Vision sensors use images captured by a camera to determine presence, orientation, and accuracy of parts. These
sensors differ from image inspection “systems” in that the camera, light, and controller are contained in a single unit,
which makes the unit’s construction and operation simple. There are differences between these sensors and other
general-purpose sensors. For example, many things—such as multi-point inspections—can be done with a single sensor.
In addition, thanks to the wide field of view images, detection is possible even when the target position is not consistent.

❚ Principle and major types

The image captured by the sensor head (camera) The light receiving element is a color type. As
Monochrome passes through the lens and is converted to an opposed to the monochrome type, which identifies
electrical signal by the light receiving element Color model an intensity range between the extremes of white and
(which is a CMOS in the majority of cases). Then, black, the received light information is separated into
the brightness and shape of the target is three colors (RGB). Then, the intensity range of each
determined according to the light/darkness and of these colors is identified, which makes it possible
intensity information from each pixel of the light to distinguish between targets even when their colors
receiving element. have minimal intensity differences.
Monochrome Color

Profile differences are identified to determine shape/

direction differences.
Intensity identification from Full color identification using
The light/dark difference
white to black three colors
between white and black
Image parts is identified.
Targets with the same shape but different
colors (dark blue and dark green)

Brightness differences are detected

Intensity difference is Targets can be

low so targets cannot distinguished
be distinguished. based on their
color difference.

❚ Features

Detect not just "points" but entire "surfaces"

Advantage: Detecting multiple points with a single sensor

Case-1 Simultaneous detection of the Case-2 Detection of the presence and

Multiple tools can be used simultaneously on the
presence of a spring and the direction of components
assembly of parts mounted on a PCB captured image, which provides support for a
variety of issues.

• Detect multiple targets

• Detect multiple items on each target
• Switching the detection target
The above issues can all be handled with a single
Tools can also be added at a later date, which
makes it possible to support inspection changes
with simple settings.


E-mail: E-mail:

Copyright (c) 2015 KEYENCE CORPORATION. All rights reserved. SensorBasicText-KA-EN-US 1036-2 611B22