IR Thermometry Apps
APPLICATIONS ARE WHERE THE SENSORS MEET THE "REAL WORLD"; WHERE THE RESULTS PROVE THAT YOU UNDERSTAND THEIR USE AND HAVE SELECTED WELL ENOUGH TO DO THE JOB!
Infrared radiation thermometers measure temperature without contact. The object being measured essentially broadcasts information about its temperature all the time. The physics behind that broadcasting is called Planck's Law of Thermal Radiation. Some thermal imagers also measure temperature and, despite the fact that they measure temperature in the same way as spot radiation thermometers, their applications are covered on a seperate web page.
A radiation thermometer or ir thermometer (a shorter name) collects some of the broadcast radiation, and, if done with reasonable care, can measure the temperature of the object's surface, and for semi-transparent objects, measure the temperature within and/or beyond the object.
Since a radiation thermometer does not contact the object it is measuring, it does not need to be at the same temperature, thus, it can, in theory, measure very rapidly, measure distant objects, measure moving objects, measure very high temperatures, not interfere with the object's temperature distribution and many more very unique things beyond the limits of, and often competitive with (for accuracy), contact temperature sensors. (It's not easy to measure surface temperature of objects accurately, even with thermocouples or other contact sensors! It's very difficult to do it when the obect is moving or is above the melting temperature of the sensor materials or both.)
Radiation thermometers can be very accurate and precise. They are the devices which enable the International Temperature Scale of 1990 at and above the freezing point of silver (961.78°C) to be realized and subsequently defined.
Radiation thermometers applied incorrectly can be very, very wrong, too. One problem is determining the errors in use. Radiation thermometers are often used when nothing else can or will easily provide an accurate temperature measurement. It can be very difficult to prove the error in a radiation thermometer measurement and, conversely, almost equally difficult to prove that the device is measuring accurately.
Some of the useful sources of successful application information are not on the Web, they are in books and scattered among numerous professional and technical journals and magazines. Most of the vendors of radiation thermometers provide some helpful summary application information, some of which is on the Web. But it is not always complete or definitive. It seldom approaches the needed framework of understanding that can help achieve success in a new application. One very bright point is the Ircon Technical Solutions or Guide to Infrared Radiation Thermometry which can be viewed and downloaded in .pdf format at the Ircon, Inc. web site.
Other source of detailed applications summaries and literature citations are the less well-known but excellent articles written in two books, "Applications of Radiation Thermometry" and " Theory and Practice of Radiation Thermometry" that are described in the References page on this site.
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