Slip Rings – Function, Types & Uses

Slip rings are a big part of engineering as they provide a solution to one important problem in electrical engineering, especially among devices that have a rotary aspect to it.

Even though they’re often overlooked, slip rings are super important as not only do they provide a solution, but they also introduce plenty of additional benefits and advantages to the device, hardware, or machines they’re used in.

On top of that, slip rings are so versatile that they always fit so well in any type of industry or electrical device, and in this post, you’ll learn everything you need to know about slip rings and their connection to electrical engineering (and its use in machines), so keep on reading!

How do Slip Rings Transmit Electrical Signals and Power?

Slip rings are small device that is very simply built and two of the main components include a ring that makes the outer part of the device and brushes (or wipers) that are placed on the inside.

Slip rings are installed on the stationary part of a device and they bridge the gap between the stationary and the rotary part of a device.

Therefore, as the rotation comes from the device, slip rings provide a continuous and strong contact throughout the rotation. As the rotation happens, the inner brushes slide against the ring, making a brushing contact that can transmit electrical signals and power.

This way, slip rings help eliminate wires from the joints as wires hanging around the joints in the machines that are meant to have moving parts can be hazardous and can lead to a serious downtime of the machine or even bigger problems.

That’s the long story short on how slip rings work and transmit signal and power, but head down below where you’ll learn what is the function, benefits, and advantages of slip ring use.

What is Slip Ring’s Function and What are Their Benefits?

Slip rings were invented to provide a solution to wire winding problems in machines and devices that have a rotary part. The goal was to eliminate wires from joints as hanging wires around the moving parts of a machine can lead to hazards and the potential downside of the machine.

Instead, the contact is maintained through the slip ring, eliminating the wires from joints and yet still providing a very strong contact point. That’s why slip rings are often seen as a device that bridges the gap between the stationary and rotary parts of a device.

But besides that, slip rings also transmit electrical signals, power, and data, and depending on the slip ring type, other mediums such as fluid, coolant, water, gas & oil, and more.

However, those aren’t all of the benefits slip rings provide. With such versatility, slip rings have plenty of advantages.

With a wise build, slip rings have a slow start even when under a heavy capacity load which is ideal for equipment that requires a slow start and precision. They can also handle a heavy load capacity, and they’re even used for additional purposes such as controlling the maximum speed of a wind turbine’s blades or adding resistance and controlling the speed of an induction motor.

How are Slip Rings Made and How Many Types Are There?

Slip ring features a simple but wise design, but it’s the material that makes it very durable and suitable for all types of uses, installations, and working environments.

The ring is made from metal while the brushes (or wipers) placed on the inside are made of graphite or metal.

As the ring rotates, an electric signal is conducted through the connection between the brush and the ring.

There are 6 different slip ring types and they all work in the same way, yet the main difference is in the design and the type of transmission it can make. The 6 main slip ring types include:

  • Pancake slip ring
  • Mercury contact ring
  • Miniature ring
  • Through hole slip ring
  • Fiber optic ring
  • Ethernet ring

Keep in mind that there are also different variations of these six slip ring types to fit various needs, devices, and industries.

Companies such as Moflon have been producing slip rings for over three decades and among the standard slip ring types, they even produce custom solutions with a mission to fit custom projects where slip rings are needed as a solution.

Best Real Life Slip Ring Uses

Sometimes the best way to understand how slip rings function and what they actually do is to look at some real-life examples.

Slip rings are used in devices, machines, and equipment we might be coming across daily without thinking twice about it.

Some of the most real-life examples where slip rings are used include the food and beverage industry, aerospace use, excavation solutions, and factory automation.

And some of the devices where you can find slip rings used include radar devices, monitoring equipment, medical imaging equipment such as CT or MRI, wind turbines, robots, and more.

There’s even a next generation of slip rings on the rise such as wireless power slip rings and brushless slip rings that can provide a super long lifespan so it can be expected to see slip rings in many more devices.

With such a compact design and incredible reliability, slip rings are being used in many more equipment and devices we can even think of and it’s only increasing in popularity.

Conclusion

Slip rings are one of the greatest innovations for devices and equipment with rotary aspects and even though they’re often overlooked, they’re silently contributing to the engineering of many of that equipment across many industries.

With the advancements in slip ring designs, they’re easily keeping up with the demands and they’re rising in popularity as a number one solution.

And since there are so many different types, alternatives, and even custom solutions, slip rings can be used literally anywhere where there’s a rotary part to a stationary device.

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