I’ve sold many proximity switches in my life. I remember taking the first steel-face proxes around with a piece of 2×4 and 10-penny nails. The prox was installed in a steel rod. Give it to the customer. Have then drive the nail into the 2×4 then still sense the steel. Is that the last innovation in proxes? No. Here is one from Festo with an auto-teach function. From the press release:

Festo introduces the SDBT-MSX – the first programmable proximity switch with automatic switching point setting. With an initial detection range of 20 mm, the SDBT-MSX is easy and reliable to install and commission, especially in applications where mounting is difficult. The switch is ideal for all standard applications, including factory automation and the electronics industry/small parts handling.

Only two steps are required for installing an SDBT-MSX. The user simply fits the switch in the approximate end stop position within the 20 mm detection range (which is marked on the sensor) and connects the cable to the controller (PLC). No power supply is needed during installation. During first operation, the proximity switch detects the end position of the piston stroke and automatically learns and remembers the switching point. This is an industry first for a solid-state positioning switch.

Alternatively, the switching point of the SDBT-MSX can be taught manually using the capacitive control button. This button also allows the user to select PNP, NPN/ NO, or NC, and the switching window can be set from 2 … 15 mm. This flexibility can also reduce the variety of sensor types needed to be kept in inventory. 

SDBT-MSX fits in all drives with a T-slot. It pairs best with drives from Festo, such as the DSBC ISO cylinder, DFM guided drive, DSNU round cylinder, ADN and ADN-S compact cylinders, and DGST mini-slide. Such pairings enable users to access the full capabilities of the switch.

An informative video on the SDBT-MSX can be viewed on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KIEZL3b8ibA

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