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Choosing A Tilt Switch Manufacturer For Automated Components

A tilt switch manufacturer specializes in the design and production of electronic devices known as tilt switches. Tilt switches are used in a broad range of equipment and systems. They will provide an automated response when a significant change in angle or orientation is detected due to a tip-over event or other upset.

Depending on the individual capabilities and practices of the manufacturer, tilt switches may be one of many switch components they produce. Switches, in general, can be made to respond to all types of force and inciting events, including changes in velocity, as in the case of acceleration switches or delta-velocity switches, or sudden impacts, which can be detected by crush switches, impact switches, and other devices.

Tilt switches are specifically designed to open or close an electrical circuit when its orientation is moved beyond a preset angle. This is also known as the tilt angle.

Manufacturers build these switches in many ways and their designs and configurations can vary by the application or brand. The overall components that permit tilt switch functionality will consist of one or more leads, also called electrodes, and a contact or a conductor. These parts are contained within a housing, which may also be referred to as the switch’s can.

The combination of these parts enables a reliable response to changes in angle or the detection on an incline or loss of balance. This is accomplished as the conductor rolls into or away from the switch’s leads. The housing will facilitate this by maintaining a sealed and friction-free track for this to occur.

When a tilt switch manufacturer creates such a switch, there are a number of factors for which they must account. Among these is the switch detail, which determines whether the switch will be normally-open or normally-closed.

A normally-open tilt switch is one that maintains an open or interrupted circuit as its normal, non-activated state. This means that there is no current flowing between the switch’s conductor and its leads until the conductor rolls in response to a change of orientation. This will then establish or close the circuit, which triggers an action within the broader system.

A normally-closed tilt switch is one that maintains a closed circuit as its normal, non-activated state. In a normally-closed tilt switch, the conductor and the leads remain in contact until an inciting change in orientation causes the conductor to roll away from the leads. This will, therefore, interrupt the circuit and trigger a system response.

Once the inciting incident has passed, the switch can be restored to its normal state by righting the object or by resetting the broader system. This means that tilt switches are non-latching.

Switch manufacturers are able to manufacture tilt switches that are activated by a very precise or slight upset in orientation, some as little as a tilt of 10 degrees. Other tilt switches can be made with a much broader tilt angle preset, such as 45 or 90 degrees.  Tilt switches can also be made with variable-dependent tilt angle parameters.

As a standard, tilt switches will be manufactured to respond to upsets that occur in a single, linear direction. If multiple detection directions are needed, adjustable tilt switches can be specially manufactured to satisfy this requirement.

Other switch specifications determined during the design and manufacturing process will include the number of leads and their configuration, the dimensions of the switch’s housing, and the materials used in all of the switch’s components.

Tilt switches may be made with a variety of materials, but those that establish the switch’s circuit must be highly conductive and resistant to corrosion. While these elements must be made from materials that mitigate any electrical resistance, the switch’s housing should be a reliable electrical insulator that minimizes friction and seals out moisture, dust, lint, and other factors that could affect switch performance.

Manufacturers that specialize in high-performance switches used in aerospace, military, and other critical applications, will frequently use materials like nickel with gold plating, which facilitates the reliable establishment of an electrical circuit when the leads and the conductor are in contact.

Materials such as these will also prevent the formation of corrosion and other issues. Hermetic sealing of all housing further protects the switch’s conductive components.

In the past, tilt switches would use a small amount of mercury as the rolling conductor. While mercury is conductive, low friction, and low cost, it has been phased out for safety issues. Due to the now-established dangers of this heavy metal, mercury-tilt switches have been replaced with mercury-free tilt switches.

Manufacturers will now use ballbearings, electrolyte fluids, and other conductive substances or parts to serve as the switch’s conductor. This element must be resistant to friction in order to roll freely in response to a change in orientation. Tilt switches are sometimes categorized as ball switches because of this component.

Additional design and manufacturing considerations for a tilt switch will vary based on the end application of the switch. Most tilt switches will be used for safety shutdowns and anti-roll mechanisms in various machinery, including vehicular safety systems, safe-arming systems on warheads and other munitions, and in fire-prevention systems on household appliances, such as space heaters and hotplates.

Other common applications of tilt switches will include anti-handling, monitoring, and training systems used in vocational and simulation equipment. They are also applied to anti-tip-over security devices on large equipment like ATMs, safes, vending machines, and more.

Tilt switches are sold as standardized off-the-shelf components from electronic component distributors and larger, name-brand manufacturers. Depending on the end application, these may be a suitable option.

For unique systems and original equipment, or for switches that must function in critical capacities, it will often be necessary to rely on the capabilities of independent tilt switch manufacturers that are able to provide design, development, and production of tilt switches that are built to custom specifications or new requirements.