A new low cost, easy to use alternative to thermal imaging

5 min read

At this year’s MAINTEC 2007 exhibition, sensor manufacturer Micro-Epsilon (UK) Ltd launched its new handheld infrared temperature measurement device, the ‘optris MiniSight Pro’, offering engineers a genuine, low cost alternative to thermal imaging cameras.

Priced at just £199, the new ‘optris MiniSight Pro’ handheld thermometer requires little training. The engineer simply aims the device at the target and presses the button. The temperature is then displayed on an LCD.

Service engineers and maintenance technicians can use the device to measure the surface temperature of objects between –32°C up to 760°C. The optical resolution of the unit is 40:1, providing an accuracy of ±1% (or ±1°C between 0°C and 760°C). The user can even programme the device to compensate for the emissivity (the intensity of infrared radiation emitted by every material or body) of different target materials.

The ‘optris MiniSight Pro’ comes with onboard data logging capabilities that can handle up to 20 different values, a thermocouple input, alarm functions and a USB interface. ‘optris Connect’ software is also provided, which enables the user to set parameters and record temperatures. The unit is supplied with a tripod and carrying pouch as standard.

The ‘optris MiniSight Pro’ also benefits from a slimline, ergonomic design and is no larger or heavier than a standard TV remote control device, and so fits neatly into an engineer’s pocket.

Ideally suited to preventive maintenance applications, quality management, R&D and electronic design, the ‘optris MiniSight Pro’ can be used to check electrical equipment; to detect ‘hot spots’ on bearings, motors and power transmission equipment; to measure the temperature of moving objects in manufacturing processes; to detect energy losses on heat insulations; and to inspect critical components on vehicles.

Also on show at MAINTEC 2007 was the company’s ‘optris LaserSight’ temperature measurement device, which has 75:1 optics and sells for just £475. Users can therefore measure smaller targets that are further away. Most competing products on the market only use an 8:1 ratio.

The 75:1 resolution is achieved by Micro-Epsilon’s worldwide-patented laser sighting with special, narrow beam aiming. The unique laser crosshairs sighting system supports precise temperature measurements at any distance. The crosshairs exactly mark a measuring spot in its real size of 16mm at a distance of 1,200mm or 1mm at 62mm in ‘close-focus’ mode.

A switch enables the user to shift into a ‘close-focus’ mode: two single laser beams cross each other at the smallest measuring spot, just 1mm in diameter. An integrated position sensor flips the LCD display into the most convenient viewing position, so the device can be used in vertical or horizontal measuring mode, the only device of its kind in the world to offer this type of functionality. This means the device is ideally suited to measuring manifold temperatures. The measuring range of the device is from –35°C up to 900°C.

A USB interface and graphics and reporting software with oscilloscope functionality helps to process and record up to 20 measurements per second.

The ‘optris LaserSight’ is ideally suited to preventive maintenance applications, quality management, research and development and electronic design.

At MAINTEC 2007, Micro-Epsilon also showcased its complete family of ‘optris’ non-contact infrared temperature measurement products. Prices for handheld infrared thermometers start from as little as £59 for 20:1 optics, £99 for 20: 1 optics with adjustable emissivity, up to £475 for the ‘optris LaserSight’.

As well as handheld units, Micro-Epsilon also demonstrated its range of programmable, compact infrared temperature sensors: the optris ‘CS’ and ‘CSmicro’, ‘CTex’ and ‘Ctfast’.

The ‘optris CS’ and ‘optris CSmicro’ sensor series are ideal for industrial OEM users and combine high quality and accuracy of metrological parameters with a rugged, high-grade stainless steel housing and an attractive price per measuring point. The sensors are approximately half the price of the company’s standard infrared temperature sensors.

The technology was designed specifically for OEM customers, who to date may have avoided infra-red measurement due to its relative high cost. The ‘optris CS’ is therefore compact, with an M12 thread and a diameter of 14 mm and a length of 87 mm. The sensor also comes with integrated electronics, an LED display and a smart sighting support.

The ‘optris CS’ is a rugged device, benefiting from coated silicon optics and so can be used in ambient temperatures of up to 75°C, without cooling.

Further features are: a scalable analogue output of 0 – 10 V or 0 – 5 V, adjustable signal processing, short circuit and polarity reversal protection, USB programming interface with software and a wide power range of 5 – 7 or 12 - 28 V DC.

The ‘optris CSmicro’ is even more compact and measures just 14 mm in diameter by 28 mm in length, with an M12 thread. Again, the sensor is housed in stainless steel but the processing electronics are integrated in the sensor cable itself, which facilitates small sensor dimensions.

In addition to providing all the features of the ‘optris CS’, the ‘optris CSmicro’ goes further and provides a programmable simultaneous alarm output for fast analysis and switching operations. A very fast response time of 30ms (CS and CSmicro) demonstrates the level of technical innovation these sensors bring to the infrared temperature sensor market. The sensor can also be used in ambient temperatures of up to 120°C without having to cool the sensing head.

ATEX-approved sensors for hazardous areas

Micro-Epsilon’s ‘optris CT’ series of sensors is one of the smallest infrared sensors in the world, with 20:1 optical resolution. Rugged and usable up to 180°C ambient temperature without cooling, the sensor measures temperatures from –40°C up to 900°C and can accommodate digital remote communication of up to 32 sensors in one network, with optional USB, RS485 and RS232 interfaces. For hazardous areas, an accessory kit is available for the ‘optris CT’ series. The ‘optris CTex’ comprises aluminium housing with mounting options for two zener barriers and ‘optris CT’ sensor electronics. It comes with a pre-assembled cable for the ‘optris CT’ electronics. According to EN50014, the ‘optris CT’ sensing heads are classed as simple electrical devices and so, with suitable zener barriers to limit energy consumption, are deemed intrinsically safe for use in hazardous areas. Measure small, fast moving parts, even in hazardous areas

Micro-Epsilon’s ‘Ctfast’ is one of the smallest, fastest infrared sensors in the world, with exposure times between 3ms (50% signal) and 9ms (90% signal). Moving objects need only appear in the measuring field of the device for only 4ms for the unit to be able to detect temperatures ranging from –40°C up to 600°C.

This opens up a wide range of possible applications for the sensor, for example, the temperature measurement of hot wheel bearings in moving trains. Similarly, measuring the temperature of objects in ‘freefall’ can now be monitored for overheating and temperature difference. ‘Safety at work’ applications such as the temperature control of bulk goods on coal dumps, where glowing remains could cause a fire. And the sensor also comes into its own when monitoring the temperature of small components (2mm) moving down conveyor lines.

The optris ‘Ctfast’ has a fast analogue output with intelligent real time data processing and an instant digital output with a response time of 4ms. The sensor is easy to assemble in multiple arrays for line scanning of small, fast moving objects (hot spot detection) using an RS485 bus connection. The unit is also rugged up to 180°C ambient temperature without any cooling.

The sensor unit is very compact. The sensing head measures just 28mm in length with a diameter of 14mm. The control & electronics box measures just 120mm x 70mm x 30mm, making the complete unit easy to integrate into a company’s production line.

The sensor is easy to set up and can be controlled remotely. There is automatic data logging for analysis and documentation. A graphics display shows fast temperature trends and users can programme analogue and digital inputs to take external emissivity and ambient temperature into account. Alarm output signals can be programmed and digital remote communication is possible for up to 32 sensors in a single network. The electronics is housed in a stainless steel body and accessories are available for cooling and air purging.

For more information on Micro-Epsilon’s range of non-contact temperature measurement products, or for a product demonstration, please call the sales department on 0151 260 9800 or email: info@micro-epsilon.co.uk

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