With the recent landing of the Perseverance rover on Mars, we are focusing this week’s blog post on slip rings for aerospace use. Space exploration is not just exciting for many of us, but it’s also a huge challenge for the engineers who work on these projects. Mars is 292.5 million miles (470.7 million kilometers!) away and has an extremely challenging environment, putting additional pressure on the technologies used. In this blog post, we will have a look at the role of slip rings in the aerospace industry and highlight the rotarX products that can be used in extreme environments.
Overview of the Aerospace Industry
The aerospace industry is vast and ranges from passenger airplanes, to telecommunications satellites and space exploration as we saw with the Perseverance landing. As our technologies have become more complex, so has our interest and ability to explore the “great beyond”. Due to the challenging environments found in space, exploration is usually done using spacecraft and satellite robots. Robots enable scientists to safely explore planets with environments that are too harsh for humans. In addition, slip rings are found in airplanes and helicopters, technologies that we take for granted in the modern world.
Slip rings are electromechanical components enabling the transfer of power and signals from a fixed to a moving component. As we have discussed in previous blog posts, slip rings are essential in robotics, as they enable the transfer of power and/or data from one rotating component to a stationary one. Additionally, slip rings are known to enhance mechanical efficiency, streamline system functionality, and remove vulnerable wires hanging from rotating joints. Due to the extreme environment of space exploration, the slip rings used must be able to withstand extreme temperatures and high vibrations.
At rotarX, our product lines consist of both standardized and custom slip rings, all of which have been tested in several use cases. For use in the aerospace industry, we offer a number of solutions, but we recommend contacting one of our product consultants to get a recommendation for which solution will work best in your application.
Hybrid Pneumatic Slip Rings
The hybrid pneumatic slip ring is a great solution for applications where the transmission of air or liquids is required beside the general electrical lines. The hybrid slip rings can contain between one and 16 media passages. In addition, each slip ring can be equipped with M5, 1/8”, 1/4”, 3/8” or 1/2” connections. The housing is made of solid aluminium and offers maximum protection for electrical and media transmission components. For electrical transmission, 6 and up to 96 rings can be used for each slip ring. This solution is also customizable based upon your needs.
Capsulated Slip Rings
Our capsulated slip ring is one of the most versatile solutions offered by rotarX. With an outer diameter between 5.5 mm and 54 mm, these slip rings consist of a rotating and a stationary part. There are a series of contact rings which attach to the rotor, keeping them insulated from each other. On the inside, the contact rings are connected with an insulated cable which is led out of the slip ring to the front. Incoming and outgoing cables always have the identical colors, to ensure a confusion-free assignment during installation. The encapsulation protects the inner life of the slip ring, depending on the level of protection class and housing material. Disturbances include: penetrating dust and moisture, electrical interference, vibrations and shocks. Additionally, the slip ring is available in different materials to increase durability.
Pancake Slip Rings
The pancake slip ring is ideal in applications where space is limited. With heights from 20 mm to 91.9 mm, this solution provides short shafts with any number of contacts. Their main difference to the conventional slip rings is that the transfer points are not linear but vertical to the axis of rotation. This allows pancake slip rings to be made very thin, ideal for shafts or motors where vertical space is limited. For optimal lifetime, this slip ring is best used with a maximum speed under 300 rpm.
With the constant advancements within the aerospace industry, it is important to find a partner that can keep up with the latest innovations. At rotarX, we have more than 25 years of experience and pride ourselves on being experts within slip ring technology. Our products convince through high performance, wear resistance and high material quality. We work with partners across industries and welcome any challenge to tackle a new problem. To see how we can help you with your next project, please contact our product consultants today!