A pressure sensor is a device equipped with a pressure-sensitive component that measures the pressure of a gas or liquid and converts the measured value into an electrical signal as an output. These are also referred to as pressure transducers or pressure transmitters and are used for controlling and monitoring pressure. Their day-to-day usage includes biomedical instruments, touch screen devices, and automobiles. Pressure sensors can also be used to measure other variables such as water level, altitude, and speed.
Before you select a pressure range, remember that the degradation of a pressure sensing element works similarly to that of an elastic band. When a rubber band is stretched and held at maximum length, it degrades faster and eventually breaks. It is a moving part, which means it can be overworked if it is continuously used at or beyond its maximum capacity. Pressure sensors work on the same principle, but instead of elastic, there is a thin diaphragm made of metal.
The diaphragm is designed to be sensitive to varying pressure forces; however, this does not mean that it can withstand other types of force applied to it. It is the most fragile part of the sensor and requires special attention when it is being used. Any occurrence that affects how the diaphragm moves will alter the sensors’ functionality. Certain impacts can cause a dent in the diaphragm, creating the potential for the sensor to be inaccurate. Even if the diaphragm isn’t physically damaged, any disturbance to the diaphragm can still cause the sensor output to drift.
Another aspect to consider when using your pressure sensor is managing the application environment, specifically, the operational temperature range. Ensure your sensor meets all the expected thermal requirements of the environment to avoid a troublesome situation. The external environment and temperature must also be compatible. If you are operating in an outdoor area that will be exposed to humidity or moisture, confirm that the pressure sensor casing has the appropriate user rating. The sensor must be composed of material that is suitable for any corrosive gasses or chemicals that may be present in the application area.
To avoid electromagnetic interference (EMI), make sure the sensor is wired and grounded properly per the manufacturer’s instructions. EMI can do more harm than altering the performance of the sensors; it can degrade or destroy them permanently over time. Be sure to monitor your sensor for any EMI damage.
It is possible for the pressure sensor to drift outside the recommended performance range after an extended period of time and use. This can be fixed with a zero balance or an offset adjustment; sensors with an adjustment feature have extended longevity. Manufacturers go to great lengths to reduce the drift caused by aging.
If you follow all of the aforementioned tips in selecting and caring for your pressure sensor, you will be able to enjoy a prolonged and functional lifespan.
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