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Can One Slip Ring Assembly Handle Both Power & Communication?

As a slip ring design engineer one of the more common questions I get asked is: “Can you provide a slip ring to handle both power and communications together?” The answer is yes.

Jesse Shearer
Slip Ring Engineering Supervisor
July 5, 2016

As a slip ring design engineer one of the more common questions I get asked is:

“Can you provide a slip ring to handle both power and communications together?”

The answer is yes.  However, there are a few precautions and design details that we consider when doing this.  This ability to tailor the product to the customer's needs is one of the advantages of working with UEA.

One of the first things we try to do, when possible, is provide two separate cores.  This isn't possible for all sizes of slip rings as they all have their design differences.  By separating the cores we can keep the communication (Ethernet, for example) spaced away from some of the power/higher voltage circuits within the assembly. The pictures below show two separate cores but are within the same slip ring assembly.

Communications and power circuits slip ring
Slip ring with Ethernet and power

Another thing we look to do is keep the cores and brushes separated by using a sort of divider or separator plate.  This is done differently in different sizes of slip rings as you can see from the photos below. This puts a non-conductive barrier between the power and communication sections to help isolate each.

Divider between power and communication
Slip ring with divider for communications and power

Along the same line as the separator, we can even provide a completely separate slip ring assembly inside another ring's enclosure (see below photo). In larger bore and high power assemblies this allows us to run the communications through a smaller size of slip ring and seal it off from the rest of the assembly.

Separate slip ring assemblies

When providing communications, such as Ethernet, in a slip ring with power, we also recommend and provide the slip ring with shielded cables.  By attaching shielded cables at the core and brushes, it will help protect the signal/data quality as the cables tend to be routed next to the high power cables and wires.  When able, we will route the communication and power cables through separate paths.  In some cases we can keep the communication cables on the inside of the mounting tube while the power remains on the outside.  This is not always an option but we do take advantage of it when it's possible.

Being a custom slip ring manufacturer is what allows UEA to create designs like these that are built to the customer's specification.  This is one of the main advantages that UEA has over some of the larger manufacturers.  The custom slip rings are not only for high volume customers; they are for low quantity applications as well. To learn more about our slip ring capabilities, visit our slip rings product page.

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