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SMAC Company LogoThe SMAC Optical Encoders Story

The most critical component inside an actuator is the optical encoder. With 25 years’ experience of using optical encoders from other manufacturers in their own actuator products, in 2005 SMAC took the decision to bring production in-house and develop their own diffractive & reflective models. Their capabilities grew until, in 2014, the separate SMAC Encoder Division was formed, staffed with the most experienced engineers in the industry.

Engineers from SMAC building encodersThey relied on the standard product models of several encoder manufacturers to fill their needs but needed to be more cost effective, more adaptable to size and shape, provide faster lead times and be more responsible for the quality and reliability of the optical encoder used in SMAC products.

Initially for use in SMAC own products, we are now pleased to offer optical encoders from this dedicated facility to end-users and motion control manufacturers alike, with impressive lead times and aggressive pricing. Their rugged design and miniature size make them ideal for OEM and embedded applications.

SMAC has designed large volume, optical encoder products for Markem, Brooks Automation, Varian Corp, HP, Universal Instruments, Delphi and other manufacturers from coast to coast.

Several standard model linear and rotary optical encoder products have been designed and it is recognised that custom sizes and shapes are a big factor and integration of an encoder into a customer’s motion control system is important. So, with this in mind, SMAC can offer custom PCB encoder assemblies with the size and shape of the PCB specified by the customer along with some standard packaged products.

SMAC will make any of their Encoder PCB assemblies they use available as Encoder PCB assemblies or package them in plastic or aluminium housing to best fit the user’s needs.

SMAC has many Chrome on glass linear scales, flexible metal scales or Mylar scales available up to 300 MM of travel available for these applications.


An optical encoder consists of two main components: an electronic reader head and the optical scale.

Reader Heads
Linear encoder reader head from SMAC
Taking advantage of the latest opto-electronic developments from manufacturers of high-volume consumer devices allows SMAC to produce reliable reader heads at a very low price. Features include:

  • Interlaced photo detector arrays

  • LED light intensity auto gain to compensate for changes over time

  • GUI calibration for easy setup

Linear and Rotary Optical Scales
Custom rotary encoder components
SMAC linear scales and rotary discs are available in the following materials:

  • Soda lime glass – 0.75 to 1.5mm (.030”-.062”) thick up to 300mm long

  • Electroformed nickel with adhesive backing- 0.20mm (.008”) thick up to 250mm long

  • Aluminized mylar – low cost, up to 600mm long

  • Multiple scale sources for reliable lead times