Definition - What does Interlock mean?

An interlock is a type of device that is used to prevent undesirable conditions in machines, which may include mechanical or electronic systems or devices.

In almost all applications, it is utilized to aid in preventing machines from causing harm to the machine itself or to the operators. In some cases, interlocks are also used to prevent corrosion.

Corrosionpedia explains Interlock

An interlock can help prevent damage in equipment as well as injury to operators. For instance, household equipment like microwave ovens have interlock switches that disable the magnetron if the door is opened. Also, washing machines have the capacity to prevent its spinning if the lid is left open.

In its broader applications, interlocks promote device safety, particularly in industrial facilities. Interlocks can offer protection to employees. Typical examples of devices that require this mechanism include hammers, robots and presses. Interlocks can be sophisticated, like photodetectors or infrared beams, or can be simply switches.

In some cases, interlocks can be purely mechanical, such as in firearms’ internal safety, preventing firing pin release if the chamber is not closed properly. In device operations such as hand-fed cutters and pressers, the utilization of interlocks or buttons to activate the device lessens the possibility of causing harm to its operator.

Interlocks can also be used for corrosion control. For instance, many industrial valves have interlock seals to prevent leakage and corrosion.

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