Slip Ring and How does an Electrical Slip Ring Work?

 What is a Slip Ring?

Slip rings are devices that connect the stationary system with the rotating system. It is used when the application requires a rotation when the power or electrical signal is transmitted. It is used in many machines to improve the performance and make the operation simple. The slip rings are also called as electrical swivels, rotating electrical connector, electrical rotary joint.

How does a Slip Ring work

The slip ring has two components. The brush contact and the metal ring. Let us discuss more on how does an electrical slip ring work? The number of metal rings and the brushes are designed based on the application of the machine. In the general case, the brush is fixed and the ring is rotating. The brushes are generally made using graphite or phosphor bronze. Graphite is the economical option but phosphor has good conductivity and the wear life is high. Metal wires like brass and silver are used in making rings. The rings are separated or insulated by nylon or plastic.


When the rings rotate, the electrical current is conducted through the brushes. There is a continuous connection between the brushes and the rings.

Slip rings vs Commutators

Both slip rings and commutators are manufactured using conductors and used to connect the rotating system and the electrical system. Though slip rings and commutators have some similarities they are different. The differences between them are listed below

       In a slip ring, the rotating system and the stationary system are connected without changing the polarity while there is a polarity change in commutators

       In a slip ring, the rotating motor is an AC motor while DC motor is used in the commutator

       Slip ring has a continuous ring of conducting material. The commutator or split ring is divided into parts

Types of Slip Rings

Based on the size and the type of construction, the slip rings are of various types.

Pancake Slip Ring.

The conductors are arranged on a flat disc. The shape of these slip rings is flat. Therefore it can also be called as flat or platter slip rings.

Mercury Contact Slip Ring

The conducting media is the mercury contact in this type of slip ring. At normal temperature, electrical signals and power are transmitted by the liquid metal. Mercury is a toxic substance and can be harmful if these slip rings are used in food processing and manufacturing devices.

Through Hole Slip Rings

These types of slip rings have a hole in the centre. This type of slip ring is used when a rotation of 3600 Is required. The lifespan of these slip rings are long and require low maintenance.

Ethernet Slip Ring

This type of slip rings is used to provide products that allow the transfer of the ethernet protocol through a rotary system.

Miniature Slip Rings

The slip rings that are very small in size and are designed for smaller devices are called miniature slip rings.

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