Select Controls Inc. Banner - Tilt Switches

Custom Tilt Switches For Precise Performance Parameters And Non-Standard Applications

Custom tilt switches are electronic components that contribute to automated responses within many different equipment and machinery-based systems. Unlike standard tilt switches, they are made to unique specifications, use non-standard components and/or materials, or are designed to suit custom performance parameters.

These customizations enhance and expand upon the capabilities of standard tilt switches, which will detect and respond to changes in angle or upsets to an object’s orientation. This functionality is gained through a series of components, which can be arranged in various configurations, but they ultimately carry out the same function.

Tilt switches are able to automically respond to a change in angle because of the relationship between the switch’s conductor and its leads or electrodes. The conductor is specially designed to either roll into or away from the leads. This will then close or interrupt an electrical circuit, respectively, which will then activate a system response. In addition to a conductor and leads, the other main component of a tilt switch is its housing or can.

Other components may be applied and the overall design and configuration of these parts may vary depending on the switch’s design. In general, they all contribute to the switch’s capacity to respond when it is moved beyond a certain preset angle.

Standard tilt switches will usually be made to respond to certain preset angle ranges. These can be as slight as just a few degrees to more significant upsets of 90 degrees or greater. Most tilt switches will respond to orientation changes that are detected across a single direction.

Custom tilt switches can be made to respond to more precise activation parameters and, as in the case of adjustable tilt switches, across multiple directions. This is why custom versions of these switches are frequently applied to more advanced and specialized automated systems.

Tilt switches are used in many different capacities. These include safe-arming and emergency shutdowns in devices that pose hazards when a sudden tip-over event occurs. Examples of this are shown in anti-detonation safety systems on munitions, as well as automatic shutdowns that prevent fire and injury through household appliances, such as hot plates, clothes irons, and space heaters,

Tilt switches are also used for purposes of monitoring and security. They are applied to equipment like vending machines, ATMs, and safes. They can be made to trigger alerts if such objects are intentionally tipped or knocked over.

This same safe-handling functionality is applied to training and simulation equipment to ensure proper handling of all types of devices, which can trigger monitoring and recording of actions for purposes of evaluation. Tilt switches are especially suited to sensing any disruption of safe and level handling.

These devices play an integral role in anti-roll safety systems on heavy machinery, including all types of vehicles, industrial equipment, and more. When the tilt switch responds to a rollover event, an emergency alert, safety mechanism, or other action can be automatically triggered.

There are many other critical and non-critical settings where tilt switches are applied. Even when used for non-vital functions, tilt switches should always be made from high-quality parts that foster the reliable, low-resistance flow of electrical current.

The leads of a tilt switch are usually made from corrosion-resistant and highly-conductive materials. In aerospace and military-specific tilt switches, leads will usually be made from a material like nickel, which is plated with gold to foster stronger conductivity and resist corrosion.

The switch’s conductor is a rolling element, which enables the switch to detect different degrees of tilt. It must also be highly-conductive, resistant to corrosion, and unaffected by friction.

In the past, the vast majority of tilt switches used a small quantity of mercury as the conductive connector. Mercury facilitates the connection of a circuit, rolls freely, and is low cost. The dangers associated with this heavy metal, however, have led to the adoption of safer alternatives over the last few decades.

Most tilt switches now use a ball bearing or electrolyte liquid as a conductor. This is why tilt switches are sometimes called ball switches or ball-tilt switches. They may also be specified as mercury-free tilt switches.

It’s very important that the switch’s housing keep any factors from interfering with these parts and their ability to maintain an electrical circuit. Small particles like dust or lint, moisture, or changes in temperature, can easily compromise the performance of a poorly-sealed tilt switch.

High-quality, high-performance tilt switches are usually hermetically sealed to prevent such issues. Additional modifications may be incorporated into a custom tilt switch’s housing.

Procuring custom tilt switches is best accomplished through the capabilities of an electronic switch or sensor manufacturer. Key parameters that determine the switch’s performance and functionality will include the number of leads and their configuration.

Other specifics will concern the switch’s detail, which determines whether the switch is normally-open or normally-closed. A normally-open tilt switch will maintain an open circuit as part of its normal, non-triggered state. This means that activation will occur when the connector closes on the leads and completes the circuit. A normally-closed switch is the inverse of this configuration, which means that a switch will maintain a closed circuit until the conductor rolls away from the leads and triggers a response within the system.

By nature of their design, most tilt switches are non-latching. This means that the components can be returned to their normal state when the orientation of the object is corrected. Whether this will reset the broader system can be determined by other components and modifications.

Other switch customizations will determine the specific tilt angle or tilt angle range that activates the switch, as well as standard hardware details concerning the length, width, diameter, and shape of the switch. Switch materials can also be customized and will vary greatly depending on the switch’s end application.