Although most people encounter their first joystick when using a games console, they actually date back as far as World War II. The devices thus have a much more serious history than their name might suggest. As "control signal generators with moving steering rods", the first joysticks guided German air-to-air missiles remotely toward their targets. Fortunately, the vast majority of today's joysticks are used in peaceful applications, and there are clear signs from the market that industrial joysticks are becoming increasingly important as input devices at the interfaces between humans and machines. This was reason enough for Althen Sensors & Controls - a specialist in sensor technology, measuring systems and process automation - to draw on the portfolio and years of expertise of its sister company Altheris and expand its product range in this area. This now also includes joysticks built using IECEx-certified components (ATEX), thus making them suitable for use in potentially explosive areas and ensuring they help prevent explosions instead of triggering them.
The growth in demand for industrial joysticks, which has been particularly strong in the last few months, is being accompanied by a desire for professional quality in relation both to the components involved and the production processes. The potentiometers used have been greatly enhanced in terms of their durability, noise and precision. The result is a much longer service life, with up to ten million movements. "For state-of-the-art operating concepts, we offer a comprehensive selection of finger, thumb and hand joystick models. From straightforward operations, where a switch is activated for each direction of movement, to multilevel configurations, our joysticks are designed for applications ranging from the smallest of spaces to heavy industry. We always adapt them precisely to the specific requirements," says Fred Balser, Product Manager Vibration, Acceleration and Industrial Joysticks at Althen.