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No.10 October 2007
Sensors & Transducers Magazine (e-Digest), No.10, October 2007
Sensors & Transducers Journal (ISSN 1726- 5479), Special Issue (October 2007) on
'MEMS and NEMS: Devices and Systems
Sensors Web Portal Up-dates Briefs
Published Sensors Books
Position and Displacement Sensors Markets: Optical Encoder Growth Slower, New
deadline for articles, press releases and sponsored White Papers for the next
issue of S&T Journal (e-Digest) No.11, Vol.85, November 2007 is
12 November 2007.
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Optical Encoder Growth Slower, New Technologies
Natick, Massachusetts – October 11, 2007
– A recent market study by Venture Development Corporation (VDC)
reveals that the North American market for linear displacement sensors
including encoders, linear variable differential transformers (LVDTs),
laser systems, magnetostrictive, potentiometric, capacitive, inductive,
and ultrasonic products totaled $338.7 million in 2006. Displacements
are occurring in many applications, as evidenced by the varying and
changing growth rates for all primary technologies.
LVDTs – The largest product market is
for LVDTs, and by far the largest shipments of these are for
military/aerospace applications, particularly for use on aircraft. These
have a long operating life in harsh environments. LVDTs have only one
moving part and little friction between the moving ferromagnetic core
and the cylinder in which it moves.
The North American LVDT market peaked out in 1999 and then slumped off
in the 2000 and 2001 time frame, but has been recovering since, and is
expected to continue growing over the next 5 years.
On the military
side, defense projects have been strong since the beginning of the Iraq War, and
this is expected to continue, and sustain market growth for LVDTs.
Optical Encoders – From 1994 through 2006,
the North American optical linear encoder market grew at about a 10.5% compound
annual growth rate (CAGR). These are used principally in industrial applications
on metalworking equipment, electronics and semiconductor manufacturing
equipment, and assembly/robotics equipment, but also find other uses such as on
medical equipment. Optical encoders can provide high accuracy, and being digital
output products require no A/D conversions for use in digital control systems.
The growth rate for these products is expected to slow over the next five years,
but to remain above average. The highest growth rate is forecast for use on
Magnetostrictive – The North American market
for magnetostrictive linear displacement sensors increased at just over a 5%
CAGR between 1994 and 2006. These sensors find extensive use with pneumatic and
hydraulic cylinders, and are particularly useful for long strokes. These provide
high resolution, and repeatability.
The overall North American market for these products
is expected to grow at an above-average rate over the next five years, with the
highest growth rate expectations for use in metalworking, medical,
assembly/robotics equipment, and valve applications.
Potentiometric – In contrast, the North
American market for linear potentiometric displacement sensors declined at about
5.3% per year over the last 12 years.
The cost, and thus price, of linear displacement
measurement potentiometers vary considerably, being among other things a
function of volume, length, linearity and accuracy. For example, linear
potentiometric sensors are most heavily used as components in transportation
vehicles for pedal positions, power seats positioning, and power steering.
Typically these products are relatively short displacement devices, with low
linearity and accuracy requirements. The material cost to produce these is low,
and because these are purchased in large volumes for use on automotive vehicles,
the resultant price is low. This market segment has shown very little decline
over the last 12 years, particularly as more position sensors have been added to
automotive vehicles for a variety of functions.
In other applications, particularly military and
industrial, often high linearity and accuracy are required, and often these are
much longer products, and purchased in much lower volumes. Prices on these
products are considerably higher. The most displacement of linear potentiometric
sensors has occurred in these segments, particularly in industrial applications.
For example, between 1994 and 2006, the North American packaging equipment
market for these sensors declined about 90%, that for industrial engine controls
by 70%, for metalworking equipment by 58%, for plastics and rubber manufacturing
equipment by 50%, and for medical equipment by 39%.
Potentiometric linear displacement sensors are
contact devices, and have a relatively short operating life because of wear
caused by friction compared to other types of linear displacement sensors.
Expectations are for continuing loss of market share for these products.
High Growth Product Markets – The highest
growth rates forecast in the VDC study are for laser systems at a 10.2% CAGR,
and capacitive linear displacement sensors at 8.0%. The markets for both are
currently relatively small, however, each is expected to grow since OEMs and end
users are seeking higher accuracies, which these provide. This is particularly
the case in the semiconductor and electronic industries where more precise
measurement capabilities enable shrinking the size of electronics.
Where will the market be in five years? Optical
linear encoders have enjoyed a strong ride to toward the top, but the market for
the two above categories, and a few other technologies, are forecast to have
higher growth rates.
For further information about the study,
North American Position Sensor Market: Eighth Edition, contact:
Director, Industrial Automation and Control
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