Fiber Optic Light Guides

By Matt Reinstetle

Photoelectric sensors are one of the major workhorses in the industrial automation field. They can be used in a variety of applications ranging from detecting different colors to the location of objects on the production line.

One of the common uses for photoelectric sensors is detecting registration marks on objects, either on labels attached to a spool or located on the sides of objects. Unlike other elements of your business, identifying registration marks is not a “one-size-fits-all” solution. For those who work in challenging environments, using fiber optic light guides might be the right choice for registration mark detection versus using the standard optical block.

Learn more about the advantages fiber optic light guides offer for your sensing solutions.

What is a Fiber Optic Light Guide?

First, a quick breakdown of what is a fiber optic light guide. Fiber optic light guides are used to transmit illumination from one source to the sensing position. Fiber optic light guides can be made from materials ranging from plastic to glass coated in aluminum.

What are the Benefits of Using Fiber Optic Light Guides for Registration Mark Detection?

Light Guides Can be Used in Tight Spaces.

Not all industrial manufacturing machines and equipment is the same. Depending on the machine’s layout, a photoelectric sensor with an optical block may not fit inside the machine. Fiber optic light guides are flexible and small enough to fit into difficult sensing sites. Having a fiber optic light guide attachment allows the sensor to be installed farther away from the sensing location in a place allowing easier calibration.

Light Can Be Shaped to Hit Smaller Marks.

The lens or sensing end of the light guide come in many different designs which give the user more control. If the registration mark is small, then the user can select the right fiber optic light guide to hit the target.

Prevent Damaging the Sensor.

As an added level of protection, some users choose to use fiber optic light guides to protect the sensor. If something were to go wrong in the machine, having the sensor farther away from a dangerous area increases its odds of the sensor not getting destroyed. If something were to go wrong, a damaged fiber optic cable could be easily replaced.

Easy to Clean for Printing Applications.

When registration mark sensing is used to trigger inkjet printing, there is a chance ink can spray on nearby objects. If a photoelectric sensor is near the printing location, ink my coat the optical block or the sensor. This means the sensor or optical block will need to be cleaned regularly, or even replaced in worst-case scenarios. To prevent production delays or costly repairs, try using fiber optic light guides to create some space between the printing location and the sensor. If the fiber optic light guides do get dirty, they can be easily replaced with another light guide.

How Do I Find Out More?

Here at TRI-TRONICS, we specialize in making photoelectric sensors, rotary encoders, and elevator door protection systems. We manufacture a wide variety of sensors and sensor accessories for many applications.

We understand that our customers have a job to do and have no time for issues. That is why every product TRI-TRONICS builds is made to be easy to use and durable enough to withstand the harshest environments.  We also offer product customization and private labeling upon request. 

For product inquiries, please give us a call at (800) 237-0946 or email us at