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Application Note

Gill’s 360 rotary sensors improve 3D print quality

Gill Sensors & Controls (Gill) Blade 360 Rotary Sensor has been installed into 3D printer systems to improve print quality by accurately measuring winding tension.

3Dom, a leading supplier of quality 3D printing filaments, contacted Gill for an accurate measurement device to solve current issues with uniformly wound spool and to control the winding tension of their thermoplastic product.

The Blade 360 was best suited for the application due to its solid-state design and 360° measurement range. As there is no contact between the sensor and the activator element, the sensor will not suffer any mechanical wear during its service life, providing a consistent, reliable and maintenance free installation.

Accuracy and repeatability are the cornerstones of 3D printing which must be achieved to further its development and range of applications. Reliable and predictable delivery of material to the print nozzle is an essential element in achieving the levels of accuracy required. A large element of this material delivery is facilitated by the quality of the plastic filament. The material needs a high dimensional accuracy and to be uniformly wound and tensioned on the delivery spool.

To ensure a uniformly wound spool no kinks or bends can be fed into the printer as this can cause breakage or jamming. Having a uniform tension means that the extruder wheel that feeds the filament into the printer nozzle can provide a constantly predictable flow of material.

A ‘dancing arm’ assembly is used to control the winding tension and measure any variation changes. These changes translate into a rotary movement which can be measured by the Gill sensor. The Blade 360 sensor provides the control feedback to adjust the winding tension on the spool, keeping it constant. In addition, the lack of any mechanical contact in its functionality also means that there are no frictional variations or ‘sticktion’ delays caused by the sensor itself, thereby only providing accurate measurement of changes in the filament tension.

By exploiting the non-contact, solid state design of the Gill inductive rotary sensor, 3Dom are able to provide their customers with the high quality product that they require, whilst providing them with a long-term, reliable manufacturing solution. “We are very happy with the product and the service from Gill Sensors & Controls.” says Danny McMenamin from 3Dom speaking about the installation.


position sensors for 3d printer