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Manufacturers available: Carlo Gavazzi, Omron, and others.
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A proximity sensor/switch is a sensor able to detect the presence of nearby objects without any physical contact. The sensor often emits an electromagnetic field or a beam of electromagnetic radiation (infrared, for instance), and looks for changes in the field or return signal. The object being sensed is often referred to as the proximity sensor's target. Different proximity sensor targets demand different sensors. For example, a capacitive or photoelectric sensor might be suitable for a plastic target; an inductive proximity sensor always requires a metal target.