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Demand for Magnetic Sensors Rises

Revenue from magnetic sensors used in industrial and medical applications will grow about 8 percent per year through 2016 when the market will total $175.5 million.
The market for semiconductor magnetic sensors used in industrial and medical equipment will grow about 4.5 percent in 2012 to $123.2 million dollars, as the devices are used in more equipment to improve energy efficiency, according to researcher IHS.

While revenue for magnetic sensors in industrial and medical one is small compared to other segments such as automotive or consumer wireless, it will continue to grow for years to come. By 2016, revenue for sensors in the medical and industrial segments will reach $175.5 million, posting a compound annual growth rate of 8 percent, according to IHS.

The main growth driver for magnetic sensors in the industrial market is renewable energy including solar energy systems and wind turbines, said Richard Dixon, principal analyst for MEMS and sensors at IHS. He noted that motors of all kinds consume an estimated 45 percent of all electricity generated worldwide, and magnetic sensors are often used to improve the efficiency of motors.

“As government legislation comes into play, this is acting as a boon for the sensors, implemented with an eye toward reducing energy consumption,” Dixon added.

The semiconductor magnetic sensor market consists of Hall-effect and magneto-resistive semiconductor integrated circuits (ICs). They are used to track rotational speed and linear angles in machines and devices, or to detect and process magnetic fields to establish positioning.

Sensors are also used in many medical devices where some form of motor control is involved, such as pumps. Medical devices account for about 30 percent of magnetic sensor revenue, while industrial applications account for 70 percent.

Examples of motors in which magnetic sensors are used include low-voltage AC and DC motors, three-phase inductive motors, stepper- and servo-type motors, single-phase motors, and compact motor drives.

Elsewhere for industrial uses, magnetic sensors are used in uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) for machines like computer servers, welding systems, robotics, off-road vehicles and forklift trucks.

The most prevalent types of magnetic sensors being used for industrial applications are electric current sensors including shunt resistors, Hall-effect integrated circuits, current-sensing transformers, open- and closed-loop Hall devices, and fluxgate transducers.

Magnetic sensors are used in medical devices for motor control, in applications such as ventilator machines; infusion, insulin and syringe pumps; or kidney dialysis machines.

Another example of medical use for these sensors is in simple centrifuges for preparing samples. The sensors contribute to smooth control of small motors, making them quieter and more reliable.