While many people are familiar with the term microswitch, this little switch has a much longer name. The original name of this little device is a miniature snap switch, so named because it required very little force to literally flip the switch to activate it.
The use of microswitches is found in all types of applications where instant changes are required. With the minimum force required, a microswitch is ideal for any sensitive application such as elevators, microwave ovens, fire systems, controls on industrial equipment and machinery, as well as any electrical control system. They are also used in many different switches in vehicles to give instant on / off response.
Unsurprisingly, the microswitch hasn’t been around for as long as many other types of switches and electrical control options. The first model was invented in Freeport, Illinois, in 1932 by Peter McGall while working for the Burgess Battery Company. In 1937 it was marketed by the same company with the same product name used today.
In 1950 Honeywell Sensing and Control acquired the brand and manufacturing company. Although Honeywell still has the branding on the name, many other companies now make the same switch designs, all with the term microswitch.
How do they work
Thanks to its design, which includes a “tipping point” mechanism, the microswitch can open and close a circuit extremely quickly. The slightest pressure applied to the actuator on the switch switches the circuit from on to off, depending on how the switch is constructed and installed.
Inside the switch there is a spring system which is activated by a roller, button or lever movement of the actuator. By using the spring, the small amount of physical pressure on the actuator is amplified, providing instant instantaneous action within the switch.
Often with a microswitch or snap switch you can hear the click of the inner strip. The required external force can be configured to require a specific amount of force to provide the best control of switch operation.
The basic design of a microswitch is not complicated, but it is its immediate response to the amount of preset pressure that makes it one of the most used switches in a wide variety of applications today.
When a microswitch is required, consult the Gopher Electronic Company first. We offer Honeywell sensing and control products to meet all your repair or design needs. For more information, visit the website.