Self-Cleaning Fiber Optic Cables


Thread Starter

J. Amstutz

The company that I work for currently is using photoelectric sensors with fiber optic cables to sense the presence of paper. The cables, once covered with dust tend to give false readings. However, when the sensor's sensativity level is turned up high enough to combat the dust, then the sensor read through the paper.

If anyone has any suggestions on how to keep the fiber optics clean, (compressed air, fans, etc.) or other suggestions, I would appreciate the input.


darcy oldfield

Use 2 sensors
check them in the on state at the same time
check them in the off state at the same time

if in the off state one of the sensors is on then indicate a fault that they it needs to be cleaned. You can set it up so that it keeps running with the good one.

A proper self checking system would require 3 sensors the two good sensors could be used to identify the bad or dirty sensor.

Crucius, Wesley

I have seen compressed air utilized to address almost this very problem. In the scenario I am thinking of, compressed air was directed at the optics of some diffuse proximity photoelectric eyes to blow away accumulated tobacco "dust". A solenoid valve was used to turn on the air flow
periodically. The solenoid was actuated via an existing PLC control system (the same one that used the feedback from the PEs). Utilization
of air was gradually cut back until the minimum required frequency/pressure was achieved. The scheme worked well...


Darcy Oldfield wrote:

. You can set it up so that it keeps running with
the good one.

But therein lies the rub. Which one is "good" and which one is "not"? I would expand this idea such that when there is disagreement, use the air
blast to clean the probes. Or, use a fieldbus sensor (depending on price justification, ie if there is a fieldbus already on the machine). I know that for DeviceNet, banner sensors will send a "lens dirty" signal when the strength falls below a certain threshold. At that point, the air blast technique could be employed to clean the lensing.

--Joe Jansen
The common solutions to your question have already been answered. An alternative approach is to prevent the dust from gathering on the fiber optic cable in the first place. If you have space then mounting the fiber at a further distance away from the dusty area would at least reduce the time period between cleaning. To acheive the same sensitivity at the further distance you might like to use a lens to focus the beam power into a smaller area. In any case, using a lens in a dusty environment is extremely recommended to penetrate the dust both acheiving longer distances and increased sensitivity/returned light.
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