Capacitance SensorsCapacitance sensors are precision measurement tools for process automation, quality control, and tool automation control. They’re used in a many different industries and are suitable for virtually any application where accuracy is paramount. There’s a lot to know about capacitive sensors (as they’re sometimes called), but engineers need to start with three key questions.

  • What are the parameters to specify when selecting a capacitance sensor?
  • What are factors to consider when embedding a capacitive sensor in an industrial application?
  • What is the future of capacitance-based measurement products?

MTI Instruments has been providing U.S.-made capacitance sensor systems for over 50 years and continues to set the standard for accuracy and reliability. As the following sections explain, we work closely with customers to help them select and embed the right products. MTI also continues to innovate capacitive sensing technology to support new applications.

Sensor Selection Parameters

During product selection, the most important parameter to specify is the range that the capacitance sensor needs to measure. Because they’re highly precise, capacitance sensors can measure small distances of around just a few millimeters. That’s why at MTI Instruments, we begin by asking customers to share the specific distance they plan to measure.

Resolution is the next most important selection parameter. Typically, MTI Instruments can provide capacitive sensors with a resolution of 10,000:1 – and sometimes even better. Other important parameters include gap clean and the maximum sensor diameter to accommodate. Many applications require small sensors because of limited space, but range extension is possible.

Embedding Capacitance Sensors

Engineers who want to embed capacitive sensors into industrial applications need to consider clean gap, range, and resolution. They also need to account for whether the target is conductive or can be grounded. When a probe is embedded, the engineer needs to adapt the capacitive sensor to whatever measurement (such as pressure) is need.

For example, an engineer may position a metallic diaphragm in front of an embedded capacitance probe. Deflection is measured with a high degree of accuracy since the pressure on the diaphragm encounters a sealed sensor. With capacitive sensing, a physical parameter such as pressure can become a highly stable capacitance reading.

The Future of Capacitance-Based Measurement

As the leader in capacitance testing and measurement, MTI Instruments is miniaturizing its capacitive sensors so that they’re even easier to embed. To learn more, read the Capacitance Guide for Industrial Applications.