The Growing Uses of Micro Switches In Different Applications And Automotives Industry
Unknown to many, a micro switch is widely used across a range of electrical and electronic appliances. This tiny component processes applications in your printer or photocopier. It's also what makes the clicking sound, locking the door of your microwave oven. Besides, microswitches are fitted in automobiles and vending machines, too.
That said, a microswitch has become an indispensable component. Right here, we will discuss the working of a microswitch, and it's advantages. We will also touch upon its varied applications with particular reference to its use in the automotive industry.
What is a Micro Switch? How does it work?
The first microswitch dates back to 1932, conceived by Philip Kenneth McGalll in Illinois. Also known as a miniature snap-action switch, it is an electrical switch installed in consumer appliances, devices, instruments, and machinery. It is called 'micro' both for its size and the company that first started manufacturing these micro switches.
The basic operating principle in a micro switch is a tipping point mechanism. It functions as a sensor. A plus of a micro switch is that it requires very little operating force.
The micro switch is housed in a small rectangular casing, made of plastic. The switch has depressions (holes) to enable installation on surfaces. The switch features three output contacts. Of the three, two contacts are stationary while one is movable. The actuator assembly on a micro switch is made up of a push-button sitting above a hinged wheel.
When the push button is not pressed, or the actuator is in its normally connected state, all the internal components are in the resting state (their original position). When you apply force to the actuator, the push button is pressed down. In the activated state, the internal components of the switch move too.
Inside the casing is a tensile metal strip, that functions like a lever. Thus, when the actuator is pressed, the lever is lifted, changing the position of the other contacts. The action is momentary (hence they are also called momentary switches); the moment the push button is released, the shifting contacts return to their original normally connected state. The entire actuator assembly is supported by springs.
The clicking sound one hears when the switch is activated is a good test for a micro switch.
Why are micro switches preferred?
Despite their small size and tight package, micro switches are heard-wearing. Most are built to complete over 5 to 10 million cycles before they may need replacement. Thus, they are highly durable and give you good value for your money. They can be installed in heavy-duty settings,
They are also extremely easy to activate. They are low-maintenance switches. Their small size, compact design, and lightweight construction make them a highly functional and practical switch option.
Speaking of cost, they are reasonably priced. Therefore, when a switch wears out of breaks down (though it doesn't happen often), you won't have to worry about spending too much on a replacement.
Reliability is yet another advantage of using a microswitch. They easily adjust the position of the contacts switching on and off as required. This is an essential feature because, in most cases, micro switches are used in safety equipment.
Microswitches are of different types. Some are designed to be used on printed circuit boards, while others can be mounted on a surface with an ordinary hex nut. They also differ in the materials they use for the internal lever, the electrical contacts, and the casing. A larger number of options to choose from also mean a wider range of applications.
All these advantages have made micro switches highly popular.
Applications of Micro Switches
Microswitches are used across fields, from everyday household appliances to office equipment to heavy-duty industrial machinery.
- They are used as interlocks on cooking appliances such as your microwave oven or a rice cooker. Unless the door is shut, the appliance will not come on, and neither can you use the controls.
- The switch is actuated on a vending machine when you insert coins or press the buttons on the console, thereby dispensing the requested product.
- In hospitals, they find applications in adjustable beds, chair lifts, and foot pedal controls.
- On a photocopier or a printer, the micro switch turns off and stops processes if a paper is jammed.
- It is also used as a safety switch in an elevator.
- Microswitches can also help measure temperature, pressure, the flow of air, and other gases. As such, they are used in air conditioner units and HVAC applications.
- Extending its safety applications are its uses in home security systems and fire alarm systems. Further, they are programmed to set off alarms if specific devices such as card readers or control panels are tampered with.
- They are used in washing machines to turn the power on/off, to ensure the door is closed before starting a cycle, or even to detect the water level.
- Microswitches are also used in the production processes. They halt the conveyor belts in case of product jams.
- And finally, these units are integrated into control circuits to control the operation of fans, lamps, solenoids, motors, and pumps.
Micro Switches in the Automotives
Automobiles feature a large number of movable parts. They are all connected using micro switches. These microswitches function like sensors, switching on and off as required.
In automobiles, they are used in the interlocking door system, seat belts, and seat detection. They also feature in the electronic parking brakes, electronic steering column lock, and engine area interiors, convertible roofs, tank and hood latch detection, etc. Not just that, within the market of microswitches, there are different types: single pole, double pole double throw, sub-miniature, ultra-miniature, general-purpose, door interlock, and reset switches.
The automotive industry is further evolving, given the shift to electric vehicles. Not only has production increased, but also their use. With this in mind, the use of microswitches is further expected to increase. The greatest demand for micro switches is from Asian countries, especially India and China. This is because of the fast-developing automotive industry in these countries.
Another trend in the automotive industry, as far as micro switches are concerned, is that the demand in passenger vehicles is higher than that in commercial vehicles.
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