Pressure Sensitive Safety Edges and Safety Bumpers Information

Safety edgeIn the dynamic world we live in, objects are often in motion. It’s just as likely that objects are moving toward one another as apart. These objects can be heavy vehicles, walls, doors, or people. Ideally, collisions are avoided by feedback, whether through non-contact sensing and automated feedback or through human cognition. Pressure sensitive safety edges and safety bumpers come into play when the inevitable collision happens and serve to minimize or prevent any damage that may occur. They provide personal protection from the shearing and crushing edges of automatically driven devices that present a substantial risk of injury.

Pressure sensitive safety edges are touch-sensitive strips that when positively activated send a signal to start, stop, or reverse a motor. Activation of the switch can trigger an alarm or activate a brake; whatever is needed to counteract the danger presented when people or equipment have contacted a dangerous zone. Pressure sensitive safety edges are installed at closing edges and possible crushing, pinching, or shearing points that can cause accidents. Examples of such locations are:

  • automatic gates
  • machine doors and tables
  • conveyors
  • AGVs
  • facility doors


Two common safety edge technologies work on very different principles. All pressure sensitive safety edges sense changes in pressure. They are made of flexible materials and attach to the edges of moving parts such as machine tables or powered doors. The first type of safety edge activates when pressure causes conductive plates to make contact and a signal is sent to the controller. The second technology relies on the flexible material of the safety edge breaking a light beam upon which event a signal is sent to a controller for appropriate action.

Safety bumpers differ slightly from safety edges in that they provide cushioning and in some cases sealing when the contact is made. A good example of this is the cushioned safety bumpers found on loading docks. The bumper allows for some compression when the driver backs the trailer to the loading gate door. When sufficient contact is made, a signal is activated and the driver knows to stop, assured that the trailer has made a weather-proof seal against the building.


Selecting pressure sensitive safety edges and safety bumpers requires an analysis of the situation wished to be guarded. From this analysis, performance specifications, mounting styles, physical dimensions, and terminal styles can be derived. Performance specifications to be aware of include:

  • minimum actuation force
  • mechanical life
  • activation response time

Safety bumperThere are three basic mounting styles for pressure sensitive safety edges and safety bumpers: flat channel, angle channel, and straight-flanged channel. Be prepared to specify physical dimensions when ordering pressure sensitive safety edges and safety bumpers, including length, height from base, and width.

Pressure sensitive sensing edges and safety bumpers are key to protecting workers from injury and equipment from damage. Any situation where collisions may occur should be safeguarded by a safety edge or contact bumper. Failure to do so creates business risks that are not only ill-advised, but ethically unacceptable.

Related Information

CR4 Community—Rubber Truck Bumpers for Impact Resistance

Images credit:

Euchner-USA, Inc.