Surface Sensor

Minco's Thermal-RibbonTM sensors can be installed virtually anywhere for accurate temperature sensing and fast response in aerospace, medical, and industrial devices. These thin, flexible RTDs and thermocouples are surface or pressure sensitive mounted to be non-invasive and track rapidly changing conditions in both point and averaging configurations. Our Thermal-Ribbon™ are made with polyimide, silicone rubber, Mylar™, and other high performing insulation and can be waterproof constructed for continuous immersion.

Thermal Ribbon

Minco’s expertise in wire-winding, etched foil processing, and lamination enable a unique set of design capabilities. Engineering chooses from a variety of insulating materials and thermoset or thermoplastic adhesives when designing products for each unique application. Thermal-RibbonTM designs commonly feature 1) a wire-wound, etched, thin-film, or thermocouple element, 2) a Minco pioneered "transition tab" for a reliable and robust transition between element and leads, and 3)a robust wire-harness or connector assembly. The three features above come together to feature a few common designs below.

  • Profiled Sensing: Custom wire-wound and etched foil elements can be designed in virtually any shape and size. The sensor zone can be profiled to provide increased sensitivity in select zones and provide packaging to perfectly fit in your applications.
     Custom Wire Wound
  • Point Sensing: Thin-Film and thermocouple sensors are ideal for small areas, where accurate point sensing and fast response are required.
    Point Sensing
  • Multi-point Array: Multi-zone sensing profiles can be easily designed for custom applications.
    Multipoint Array

Averaging RTDs: Minco can custom-wind Thermal-Ribbon™ elements in virtually any shape and size. Profiled elements can provide increased sensitivity in selected zones, configurations that fit unique packaging, or multi-zone arrays. Minco has multiple averaging RTD technologies designed to meet the requirements of many aerospace, medical, and industrial applications.

  • Bobbin Wound: Typically using a bifilar wind profile to eliminate inductance, these elements offer unmatched performance in environments with high electrical noise. Bobbin length and width can be varied to cover any size area or wrap around curved surfaces
    Surface Ribbon Redundancy
  • X-Y Wound: By winding in a single plane, these elements are thinner and offer a faster time response than bobbin wound elements. The X-Y winding capability allows sensing areas to be profiled unique to each application.
    Temperature Surface Ribbon Averaging
  • Etched Foil: Foil sensing elements do not offer the wider temperature range of wire-wound designs, though they are capable of achieving thinner and higher density resistance profiles. They are also ideal for multi-point sensing arrays, where a large number of conductor traces are more easily managed with a high density flexible printed circuit (FPC) connector.
    Etched Foil

Point Sensing: Compact sensors, commonly known as Thermal-Tabs™, are ideal for sensing in very small areas. Multiple point sensing elements may be used to sense multiple zone locations or even simulate an average over a larger area.

  • RTDs: Thin-film temperature sensors are available in both platinum and nickel element types, suitable for a variety of temperature ranges and nominal resistances. Minco uses both Surface Mount Device (SMD) and ‘wired’ thin-film configurations to produce fast time response, rugged construction, and high accuracy Thermal-Tabs™.
  • Thermistors: NTC thermistors offer increase sensitivity over a narrower temperature band, making them ideal for applications with small temperature changes. Minco designs parts using a variety of thermistor element types including glass beads, discs, and SMD style chips, depending on each set of unique application requirements. Thermistors can be selected with a magnitude of nominal resistance and beta values to align with the intended measurement instrumentation. Thermistors are widely used in medical and HVAC applications, as they are commonly seeking small temperature changes across a narrow temperature band.
  • Thermocouples: The inherent simplicity of thermocouples makes them resistant to vibration and shock. Their relative low cost and the physics governing their output as a function of temperature make them a popular choice for high temperature applications -- even over 1000°C. By nature a point sensing technology, thermocouple sensing junctions are small and low mass, offering fast response and making them suitable for miniaturized designs. Choose from traditional or custom designs with thermocouple wire, or take advantage of Minco's foil etching capabilities for a unique, low profile, flexible solution.
  • Temperature Limit: Minco uses high temperature polyimide and other insulating materials, suitable for temperatures between -200°C and +260°C
  • Accuracy: High accuracy options, often including Class A (±0.15°C at 0°C), are validated by Minco's measurement system that is traceable to NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) and/or SI (International System of Units).
  • Insulation Resistance: Industry standard designs are capable of meeting 10,000 megohms minimum at 500 volts DC. Minco will work to ensure the insulation resistance and dielectric performance is suitable for each unique application.
  • Lead Wire: Minco uses specialty lead wire manufacturing techniques to maximize the lead pull strength for rigorous handling and installation requirements. PTFE insulation is commonly used for high temperature and chemical resistance properties. Other lead wire coverings are available, including metal braid to reduce electrical noise and jackets or sleeving for added abrasion protection.


Minco can supply sensors to work with nearly any type of instrument option.

Pipe Surface Sensing: Thermal-Ribbons™ make for a practical, economic alternative to traditional immersed sensors for sensing fluid temperature in hoses, pipes, or tanks. Flexible Thermal-Ribbon™ sensors mount on the pipe surface so there’s no expense of a pipefitter to drain, drill, and tap the pipe for a thermowell because there is no thermowell! When properly installed and insulated, the accuracy and response of a Thermal-Ribbon equals an immersed thermowell assembly.

For details, see our white paper "Sensing Fluid Temperature with Thermal-Ribbons."

Pipe Surface SketchPipe Surface Diagram

Optically Clear / Transparent: Windows for aircraft and high speed trains, or camera lens applications require optically clear sensor technology to avoid blind-spots and distraction. Minco utilizes a variety of optically clear insulating materials in many different design types.

Integrated Heater/Electronics: Minco manufactures flexible Thermofoil™ etched-foil heaters for precision temperature control of critical applications. We can integrate heaters with Thermal-Ribbons™ or other sensors and controllers to provide complete turnkey thermal solutions.
Integrated Heaters

Installation Methods

Thermal-Ribbons™ lend themselves to a variety of installation methods. You should avoid repeated bending during the installation process, and Thermal-Ribbons should not flex in use unless they are specifically designed to do so. Take care to secure lead wires so they do not pull against the sensor bodies. Lead wires should be routed along the sensed surface for a short distance so that they do not sink heat away from the sensing element.

Listed below are some standard installation methods:

Pressure Sensitive Adhesive: PSA (option B in part number) is the simplest mounting method, but it is restricted to flat surfaces and temperatures below 177°C (350°F). PSA is usually factory applied to the mounting surface of the Thermal-RibbonTM. To install, just remove the backing paper and press in place.

#20 Stretch Tape: High temperature silicone rubber tape for mounting Thermal-Ribbons™ to pipes or other cylinders as shown above. It comes in 1" wide rolls, 6 or 36 feet long.

#6 RTV Cement: Room temperature vulcanizing cement for mounting silicone rubber Thermal-Ribbons™ to flat or curved surfaces. It is available in 3 oz. (89 ml) tubes. Contact Minco for other adhesives usable with Kapton™ or Mylar™ Thermal-RibbonsTM.

Shrink Bands: Minco shrink bands are pre-stretched polyester or polyimide strips with adhesive at both ends. Use them to mount Thermal-Ribbons™ to cylinders. Simply wrap the band around the sensor and cylinder, secure the ends, and heat to shrink in place. To order, specify material band width and cylinder diameter.

#21 Polyimide Tape: High temperature tape with silicone-based adhesive. Useful for quick mounting of Thermal-RibbonTM or Thermal-TabTM sensors to flat surfaces. Makes a strong but removable bond to most smooth and clean surfaces. Maximum operating temperature is 150°C. 0.5 inch wide x 108 ft. long roll.

See Minco’s Technical Brochure for complete information.

To learn more about our products, please visit our online catalog.

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