Optical vs. Magnetic Encoders

Why are Avtron Optical Encoders more durable than competitor's models?

  • Avtron optical encoders feature Wide-Gap Technology. See white paper below.
  • Avtron encoders feature heavier duty bearings and seals for longer life.
  • Avtron encoders have high-reliability outputs which can withstand short circuits and mis-wiring.

Why are Magnetic Encoders heavier duty than Optical Encoders?

Quite simply: optical encoders are vulnerable to three kinds of damage

  • The optical disk may shatter during vibration or impact.
  • The bearings fail due to stresses.
  • Oil, dirt, or water get inside the encoder due to seal failure.

Most styles of encoders come sealed from the factory. Over time temperature cycling causes pressure changes and seals fail, which creates a path to the inside of the encoder. Often, the cause of the problem is simply moist air which enters the encoder and then condenses, rains, or freezes inside the encoder.

Why do contaminants (dirt, oil, water…) cause optical encoder failure, and not magnetic encoder failure?

Optical encoders need to see tiny lines on a disk accurately; they make optical errors when there is any type of contamination on the disk. Magnetic encoders do not make errors due to contamination.

Avtron optical encoders are designed to reduce the causes of optical encoder failure, they feature Wide-Gap technology to eliminate sensor crashes. Avtron encoders use only shatterproof optical disks. They use superior seals to keep contamination out and withstand a greater range of temperatures than the competition.

Select an Avtron Heavy Mill Duty or Severe Duty Magnetic Encoder for severe environment conditions.

Avtron magnetic encoders withstand dust, dirt, oil, water, and heavy temperature cycling while providing the longest life and most reliable feedback. Magnetic technology enables the magnetoresistive sensor to "see" even when conditions inside the encoder look like a rainstorm of oil or water! Avtron modular magnetic encoders even eliminate the bearings to increase reliability even further.

When is an optical encoder superior to a magnetic encoder?

Generally, optical encoders can produce more pulses per revolution; for PPR above 2048, optical encoders may be the only choice. In the past, optical encoders were more accurate than some magnetic encoders, even at the same PPR. However, Avtron magnetic encoders are as accurate as most optical encoders.