Sunday, December 13, 2015

An Introduction to Thermocouples

Schematic of Type K Thermocouple
(courtesy of Wikipedia)
A thermocouple is a temperature sensor that produces a micro-voltage from a phenomena called the Seebeck Effect. In simple terms, when the junction of two different (dissimilar) metals varies in temperature from a second junction (called the reference junction), a voltage is produced. When the reference junction temperature is known and maintained, the voltage produced by the sensing junction can be measured and directly applied to the change in the sensing junctions' temperature.

Thermocouples are widely used for industrial and commercial temperate control because they are inexpensive, fairly accurate, have a fairly linear temperature-to-signal output curve, come in many “types” (different metal alloys) for many different temperature ranges, and are easily interchangeable. They require no external power to work and can be used in continuous temperature measurement applications from -185 Deg. Celsius (Type T) up to 1700 Deg. Celsius (Type B).

thermocouple attachment unit
Thermocouple attachment unit
For pre-weld heat treatment, Type K thermocouples are generally used. Thermocouples can be directly attached to the workpiece by spot welding the junction of Type K thermocouple wire. The attachment is done with the help of a TAU, or thermocouple attachment devices. Thermocouples are attached so that there is firm contact between the sensing tip and the assembly being heat treated.