Standards for potentiometers

Precision potentiometers are used in all industrial sectors, from controllers such as joysticks in the most specialised mining equipment, to the technology leading advancements in fields such as self-driving cars. They function as both input (setting device) as well as in feedback (closed-loop) control systems.

A high-quality, durable potentiometer is required in these applications. Some potentiometer manufacturers provide specifications and attributes of their potentiometers in the terms as described in IEC 60393 standards as a means of showcasing their performance characteristics.

IEC 60393 establishes standard terms, general performance requirements, inspection procedures, and methods of test for all types of resistive potentiometers, including precision potentiometers. It has been mainly written for low-power wirewound and non-wirewound potentiometers with a rated dissipation less than 10 W, including lead- screw actuated types, presets, multi-turn units, etc., to be used in electronic equipment.

What IEC 60393 standards regulate

Measuring angle, sliding noise, lifespan, linearity, vibration, shock, AC and DC endurance are just a few of the standards defined by IEC 60393. Additionally, many of the industry terms for variations of potentiometers and features are defined. Examples include multiple ganging (two or more potentiometers on a common shaft), dual concentric shafts, potentiometer shaft, and housing sealing, etc. The use of potentiometers in providing measurement and feedback for larger systems, such as in hydraulic engineering, makes them a critical component of many industrial systems.

Also defined are the various test set-ups for measuring the performance characteristics of potentiometers for qualifying and/or troubleshooting purposes. Test circuits for measuring contact resistance, noise, backlash (hysteresis), endurance, and much more are shown in detail.

Manufacturing potentiometers to comply with IEC 60393

Although they’re simple devices, The manufacturing process of precision potentiometers takes a combination of experience, machining prowess, and artisanship. Being a passive device with no electronics, everything about them is mechanical. In the single turn category of precision potentiometers, you can find models capable of precision linearity, low noise, infinite resolution for 50+ million life cycles.

Creating potentiometers for a long life of operation over millions of cycles is a cornerstone of enhancing industrial efficiency. The more common types in the industrial range are in the 5 to 10 million life cycles with good performance. The commercial-grade range is typically in the 10,000 to 100,000 life cycle range with adequate precision.

It is the IEC 60393 standards that allow the comparison of published specifications of various potentiometer manufacturers. Those manufacturers who operate in accordance with these standards are the ones where the experience, machining prowess, and artisanship live.

If you’re in need of potentiometers manufactured to IEC 60393 standards, look for a supplier that can connect you directly with an applications engineer. They’ll help you find a stock part to fit your project, or possibly engineer just the type you need.