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Purpose of this site

Positioning Improvement Guide is a site that provides engineers with solutions to various problems in positioning while presenting actual improvement cases.
In industrial machinery, precise positioning is a key element in improving quality, precision and productivity.
However, in this domain, there are many issues that are problematic for engineers regardless of industry or product.

Do you have any of the following problems in positioning?

Microswitch/Limit switch

Microswitch/Limit switch

"We have attached a magnifying mechanism onto microswitches to detect slight movements of 0.1 mm or smaller. They are expensive but still can't output stable signals."

Proximity sensor

Proximity sensor

"Mutual interference with neighboring proximity sensors prevents stable detection." "The differences in object materials cause the false detection of sensors."

Photoelectric sensor/Optical fiber sensor

Photoelectric sensor/Optical fiber sensor

"Temperature drift causes signal point deviation during use and that prevents precise positioning." "There are no sensors usable in extreme environments such as in a vacuum, at high temperatures and exposed to radiation."

Contact displacement sensor/Laser sensor

Contact displacement sensor/Laser sensor

"We were recommended to use expensive contact displacement sensors with a value display function for easy positioning on automated lines."

If you have any of the above problems in positioning with switches and sensors, you will be able to find solutions here at Precision positioning Improvement Guide.

Latest improvement cases

Here are some actual cases of solutions to problems reported every day from engineers in various industries regarding the following topics.

  • Detection of 0.1 mm or smaller slight movements
  • Cost reduction and space saving
  • Usability in extreme environments such as in a vacuum, exposed to radiation, etc.

Improvement Case Studies

  • Looking for a solution for detecting 10μm of Power steering parts…

  • Using expensive Touch Probes for Updating the wear of Grinding Stone?! Looking for more economical solution…

  • Air sensor is low accuracy that confirming adhesion of Precision Component for PC cannot be done properly…

  • Contact displacement sensors used for measurement inside CNC cylindrical grinding machines cannot survive the harsh internal environment.

  • Radiation degrades photomicrosensors fast and we have to replace them every two or three months.

  • We are experiencing difficulties because the detection of double sheet metal feeding with expensive contact displacement sensors costs too much.

Cost reduction, space saving and improved precision!
Typical improvement cases

Here are the three most frequently discussed positioning problems that have been solved via this site.

?Too many signal errors occur to microswitches and proximity sensors though they are not broken.

Hello, I am an engineer with a brake manufacturer.
I design disk brakes for elevators.

To confirm the opening and closing of the brake pad, we install a lever-like mechanism to magnify the movements of the pad and detect those movements with microswitches and proximity sensors. However, the movements are too minor (0.5 mm) to detect stably.

This system is very important because false detection may lead to accidents, and we need to increase the reliability of detection. Do you have any solution for this?

!Even 0.1 mm slight movements can be detected without fail!

Thank you for your inquiry.

Microswitches and proximity sensors have a dead band between on and off states (i.e., hysteresis). Therefore, it is very difficult for them to stably detect 0.5 mm slight movements.

In fact, many people experience this problem, being forced to construct mechanisms to magnify slight movements or having to consume excessive time for mounting and adjustment of microswitches and proximity sensors.

However, there is no need to give up!

Metrol precision positioning switches are precision mechanical devices. They consist of precision components and are free of hysteresis. So, they can detect slight movements as small as 0.1 mm without fail by directly touching the brake pad.

This is an example solution to the frequently discussed problem of detecting slight movements of 0.1 mm or smaller.
This proved the reliability of mechanical precision positioning switches and, later, a considerable number of them were installed onto disk brakes for elevators that have very stringent safety requirements.

?There are no sensors usable inside vacuum systems.

Hello, I am an engineer with a maker of semiconductor manufacturing equipment.

We use optical fiber sensors for the glass substrate alignment mechanism (precision positioning) used in vacuum film forming equipment for FPDs, but we have some difficulties because they require photo-irradiation via a viewport from outside the system and its processing costs are high.

I have heard Metrol switches can achieve good performance in XY stage precision positioning outside vacuum equipment. Do you have switches usable within vacuum equipment?

!Stable detection ensured even in a high-vacuum environment!

Thank you for your inquiry.
Leave alignment inside vacuum film forming equipment for FPDs in a high vacuum to precision positioning switches.

The Metrol vacuum-compatible positioning switch is a precision mechanical device that does not use electronic elements.
It consists of low outgas components and is usable in a 10-5 Pa high vacuum.
Viewports are no longer necessary after incorporating the switch into the alignment mechanism, so considerable cost reduction is possible.
More and more major semiconductor device manufacturers have employed Metrol positioning switches for vacuum systems such as sputtering devices, evaporators and etchers.
If you have any problems with positioning in a vacuum, please contact Metrol.

This is an example solution to the frequently discussed problem of use in special environments.
The switches have actually been used in a high vacuum, exposed to radiation or in magnetic fields.

?We are experiencing difficulties because the detection of double sheet metal feeding with expensive contact displacement sensors costs too much.

Hello, I am a user of sheet metal working equipment.

I engage in 0.5 mm-thick sheet metal working on spot welding lines. Although they happen very rarely, when feeding sheet metal on the line, double-feed errors do occur and these cause defective products.

Currently, to prevent this, we use contact displacement sensors with a repeatability of 1 μm and make them display the thickness to assess whether the number of fed sheets is one or more (if the thickness is greater than 0.5 mm, it is assessed as an error).

In this way, defective products have been prevented, but we have a problem because those sensors are too expensive.

Do you have any better solution?

!Cost reduction achieved with precision equivalent to that of contact displacement sensors!

Thank you for your inquiry.

Is value indication really necessary in the detection of sheet metal double feeding?
Contact displacement sensors with a display unit may be an over-engineered solution for positioning on automated lines.

Metrol precision positioning switches can achieve as high precision as contact displacement sensors at a low price without requiring expensive amplifiers.
High repeatability of 1 μm is achieved at a low price. With precision positioning switches, double feed detection of sheet metals with a combined thickness of only 0.7 mm can easily be done.

Please reconsider if value indication is really necessary for positioning on automated lines.

This is an example solution to a problem in which contact displacement sensors were used on an automated line that did not require a value display. Installing our precision positioning switches has reduced costs considerably.

The Q&A Improvement Case Studies page presents many other actual solutions for issues observed in various industries and operating environments.

Improvement Case Studies

What are Metrol precision positioning switches that enable precise detection of slight movements of 0.1 mm or smaller?

Precision positioning Improvement Guide presents improvement cases using the precision positioning switches of the site operator, Metrol.
Metrol produces the world's smallest high-precision mechanical positioning switches (contact-type) that can constantly detect even slight movements of 0.1 mm or smaller.

Now, some of you engineers may think:

"Positioning switches? No way, they are broken so easily."
"Well…Can positioning switches really achieve as high precision as displacement sensors?"

If you think that, you might have the following doubts.

  1. 1. Switches cannot be used for precision positioning because their precision level is low.
  2. 2. Switches are not durable and are easily broken.
  3. 3. Switches must make contact with objects for detection. They can damage the objects.

Actually, such misunderstandings and doubts stand in the way of the considerable cost reductions and increases in productivity that could be achieved at many production sites.
However, Metrol precision positioning switches can solve those problems that conventional switches cannot.

1. Is it the case that switches cannot be used for precision positioning because their precision level is low?

Metrol positioning switches have 1 μm repeatability. They can achieve precision positioning in micron increments at one-twentieth the price of displacement sensors (a higher-precision type with 0.5 μm repeatability is also available).

2. Aren't switches short-lived and easily broken?

Precision positioning switches can sustain three million operations. With the IP 67 waterproof protective construction, they are resistant to water and oil and usable in special environments such as in a high vacuum, exposed to radiation, etc.

3. Switches must make contact with objects for detection. Don't they damage the objects?

The 0.3 N low contact force type will not damage objects or leave any contact traces.

Metrol precision positioning switch Microswitch/Limit switch
Signal point precision 0.5μm~ N/A
(approx. 50 to 100 μm)
Hysteresis None
(precision mechanical type)
Yes
(snap action mechanism)
Resistance to special environments Heat resistance of 200°C,
usable in a high vacuum and exposed to radiation
N/A
Contact life 3 million to 10 million operations 100,000 to 500,000 operations

By knowing what precision positioning switches can and cannot do as well as being aware of tips and usage on actual production lines, considerable cost reduction, space saving and improved durability can surely be realized.

Product Information

What precision positioning switches cannot do

This site presents actual solutions only available with uniquely high-precision and high-durability precision positioning switches. However, they cannot solve all problems.
As contact-type switches, they have some disadvantages that the non-contact type does not have.

Disadvantages of precision positioning switches

  • Precision positioning switches are unable to detect things that cannot be touched including liquid and soft objects.
  • Tact time is prone to be long because workpieces require contact.
  • Vibration, impact and the operating speed (10 mm/minute maximum) at the mounting location may cause a chattering phenomenon in which electric signals keep turning on and off intermittently.
    (Chattering can be prevented by taking the initial signal or by selecting NO type switches.)

By knowing what precision positioning switches can and cannot do and using their benefits effectively to solve your problems, you can achieve considerable cost reductions and improved productivity.

The story behind the birth of precision positioning switches

Like a small Swiss enterprise

  • Company office building at establishment

    Company office building at establishment

  • Photo from around 1980. It was a small company with only eight people.

    Photo from around 1980
    It was a small company with only eight people.

Let us tell you a little about our company.

In 1976, Metrol was established, aiming at emulating the craftsmanship of Swiss enterprises that, in spite of their small scale, can create world-class products.
Back then, the company was not a switch manufacturer but a small company with only a few employees that engaged in custom design for each client.

One day, after considering solutions for individual engineers on a daily basis, the company received an inquiry from a major auto manufacturer.

"Can you create dial gauges with a signal output immune from the harsh environment?"

The dial gauges used in those days were not able to operate in hostile production environments within factories. That was the main cause of frequent defective products, and many production engineers were at their wits' end.
Under such circumstances, Metrol launched the development of its dial gauge with a signal output.

Origin of the creation of precision positioning switches

  • Dial gauge with a signal output developed jointly with Toyota

    Dial gauge with a signal output developed jointly with Toyota

  • The very first precision positioning switch manufactured in 1977

    The very first precision positioning switch manufactured in 1977

Impediments to the development

In the midst of the repeated trial and error process for the development of the dial gauge with a signal output, a few significant issues arose such as failures in signal transmission and high costs. The cause was a German-made precision switch included in the gauge.

The German-made switch initially used was expensive because it was imported. In addition, it was easily broken because it used sapphire as its insulator.

"As that's the case, let's also develop the switch ourselves!"

In this way, Metrol started the development of a precision switch on its own.
In 1977, the company succeeded in the development of an original-structure precision switch, far from any imitation of German switches. That was the origin of the current precision positioning switches of the company.

Life and death crisis for the company!?

  • Time and labor required for tool replacement was a bottleneck in metalworking with lathes.

    Time and labor required for tool replacement was a bottleneck in metalworking with lathes.

  • CNC machine tool setter

    CNC machine tool setter

"There must be many other engineers who are suffering similar problems."

To promote its sales, Metrol commercialized the precision switches thus developed after making some improvements and launched them onto the market. However, having engaged exclusively in the development of custom design products until then, the company lacked name value as a brand and the switches did not sell very well for a long period of time.

One day, when sales depression had started to endanger the existence of the company, a client came along for a consultation, which was to bring a breakthrough for the company.

"We have a problem in replacing tools for lathes. It takes time and labor."

The client was a machine tool manufacturer.
Conventionally, the replacement of edged tools for lathes required edge positioning by a skilled craftsman and it had been regarded as a bottleneck.
In 1983, Metrol succeeded in the development of a CNC machine tool setter including a precision switch. Having greatly improved machine productivity, the switch immediately gained a good reputation among machine tool manufacturers throughout Japan and was employed by many of them. As a result, it became a highly successful product.

The tool setter has become a hit product with the world's No. 1 share !

  • Receiving award at the ceremony from Makiko Tanaka, Director General of the Science and Technology Agency at that time

    Receiving award at the ceremony from Makiko Tanaka, Director General of the Science and Technology Agency at that time

Received the Director General of the Science and Technology Agency Award

The tool setter became a best-seller and that put a company in the red back on track.

In 1995, the product received the Director General of the Science and Technology Agency Award.

Major machine tool manufacturers started to install the tool setter as standard. In this way, in a single leap, Metrol became the leader of edge positioning for machine tools. Now, the company occupies the world's No. 1 share in the tool setter sector and sells the products directly to over sixty countries.

Origin of the craftsmanship

  • The origin of creative activities is handwritten drawings. Many products are born from them.

    The origin of creative activities is handwritten drawings. Many products are born from them.

Sincerely tackling engineers' problems

Since the hit of the tool setter, Metrol has developed positioning switches for various usages. Unlike IT enterprises, the company cannot be said to have grown by leaps and bounds. However, we have steadily spread our products and promoted sales, always listening to engineers' needs as the inspiration for our product development.

Craftsmanship that, like a Swiss enterprise and in spite of their small scale, can create world-class products

Bearing that aim in mind, Metrol keeps promoting creative activities in Tokyo while providing solutions for engineers who have problems to solve.

Craftsmanship that represents "Made in Japan"

Metrol precision positioning switches are precision mechanical devices.

Like a Swiss mechanical watch, it is assembled from over 7,000 original precision components based on skilled craftsmanship. Over 700 kinds of products are manufactured on the production line, which, though automated, is under the control of responsible individuals.

Metrol conducts integrated quality control throughout the production, quality inspection and delivery processes within its Tokyo factory and ships the products thus manufactured to customers all over the world.

  • Factory in Tachikawa, Tokyo

    Factory in Tachikawa, Tokyo

  • Final product inspection process

    Final product inspection process

  • Shipped from Japan to customers all over the world

    Shipped from Japan to customers all over the world

  • Thorough quality control

    Thorough quality control

Metrol's History of Awards

Metrol has obtained over fifty patents inside and outside Japan

Metrol has obtained over fifty patents inside and outside Japan.
In addition to the Director General of the Science and Technology Agency Award, the company has been highly regarded by many other public organizations.

  • 1994 Received the Tanabe Invention Achievement Award of the 19th Inventor Awards
  • 1995 Received the 15th Director General of the Science and Technology Agency Award
  • 2005 Received the Shirai Invention Achievement Award of the 30th Inventor Awards
  • 2008 Received the 6th Courageous Management Award of Excellence of The Tokyo Chamber Of Commerce and Industry
  • 2010 Received the Governor of Tokyo Award of the Creative Talent Cultivation Awards of the Bureau of Industrial and Labor Affairs, Tokyo
  • 2010 Received the First Prize of the Tama Blue Award (Technology and Product Division) of Tama-shinkin Bank
  • 2012 Received the Excellent Founder Award of The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (The Business & Technology Daily News)
  • 2012 Received the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Award of the Small and Medium Enterprise IT Management Awards of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry
  • Receiving the award at the ceremony from Makiko Tanaka, Director General of the Science and Technology Agency at that time

    Receiving the award at the ceremony from Makiko Tanaka, Director General of the Science and Technology Agency at that time

  • Receiving the Tama Blue Award at the ceremony from President Sato of Tama-shinkin Bank

    Receiving the Tama Blue Award at the ceremony from President Sato of Tama-shinkin Bank

  • Receiving the Courageous Management Award at the ceremony from the then President Yoshino of Honda

    Receiving the Courageous Management Award at the ceremony from the then President Yoshino of Honda


  • 2007 Selected for the Support Program for the Development of New Markets of the Tokyo Metropolitan Small and Medium Enterprise Support Center
  • 2010 Approved as an excellent manufacturer in Tokyo (Tokyo Showcase 2008)
  • 2010 Approved as a Core Manufacturing Technology by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry

Metrol is a world-class brand!

Metrol occupies the world's No. 1 share in the field of edged tool positioning for machine tools.
It has participated in expos worldwide, such as Germany, the United States, China, South Korea, India and Taiwan.
Metrol is the world-class brands.

  • Chicago, USA

    Chicago, USA

  • Stuttgart, Germany

    Stuttgart, Germany

  • Hannover, Germany

    Hannover, Germany

  • Shenzhen, China

    Shenzhen, China

  • Beijing, China

    Beijing, China

  • Qingdao, China

    Qingdao, China

  • Tokyo, Japan

    Tokyo, Japan

  • Bangalore, India

    Bangalore, India

  • Seoul, South Korea

    Seoul, South Korea

Metrol has been introduced in various media including professional journals and newspapers circulated nationwide.

Press reports

Precision positioning switches have been spotlighted in various major Japanese mass media such as The Nikkei (newspaper), Nikkei Business (magazine), NHK (national broadcasting), etc.

Press reports

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Thank you for reading this to the end.

We would be very glad if this site could help you with machinery cost reduction, space saving, precision improvement and operation in special environments.
For more detailed information about precision positioning switches and consultation with our engineers, please click either of the following buttons below or contact us using the dedicated form.