Turnstile Mechanism: Types and Variations

Turnstile mechanisms have become a ubiquitous sight in access control systems, providing efficient entry management and enhancing security. While the purpose of all turnstiles is the same, there are different types and variations available to cater to specific access control needs. In this article, we will explore the various types and variations of turnstile mechanisms commonly used today.

Tripod Turnstiles:

Tripod turnstiles are a popular and versatile type of turnstile mechanism. As the name suggests, they consist of three rotating arms that allow one person to pass through at a time. Tripod turnstiles offer a compact design, making them suitable for areas with limited space. They are commonly used in stadiums, transportation hubs, and small entry points where moderate security control is required.

Full-Height Turnstiles:

Full-height turnstiles provide a more robust and secure access control solution. They are designed with a taller form factor, typically ranging from six to eight feet in height, completely encasing the user within a metal barrier when engaged. Full-height turnstiles are ideal for areas requiring higher security, such as prisons, military installations, and facilities with restricted access. They allow for one person to pass only and effectively deter unauthorized entry.

Optical Turnstiles:

Optical turnstiles are a modern variation of turnstile mechanisms that offer a sleek and aesthetically pleasing entry solution. Instead of physical barriers, they utilize infrared sensors to detect individuals passing through. Optical turnstiles provide seamless entry for users and can be integrated into upscale environments such as corporate offices, hotels, or museums where a visually appealing design is desired.

Waist-High Turnstiles:

Waist-high turnstiles are another commonly used type of turnstile mechanism. They typically reach the user’s waist height, offering a balance between security and convenience. Waist-high turnstiles allow for faster pedestrian flow while still maintaining a level of access control. This type of turnstile is frequently seen in public transportation systems, amusement parks, and stadiums where large crowds need to be managed efficiently.

Barrier Turnstiles:

Barrier turnstiles are designed with retractable or swing gates that provide a physical barrier to control access. The gates move to allow passage after proper authentication, and then close to prevent unauthorized entry. Barrier turnstiles offer a higher level of security and are often utilized in areas where stringent access control is required, such as government buildings, data centers, or high-security facilities.

Drop Arm Turnstiles:

Drop arm turnstiles are utilized in scenarios where emergency exit or quick unimpeded entry is necessary. These turnstiles consist of a single arm that drops down, allowing unobstructed passage during emergencies or specific situations. Drop arm turnstiles are often used in conjunction with other turnstile types to provide additional flexibility in access control management.

Swing Gate Turnstiles:

Swing gate turnstiles feature a swinging barrier that opens in one direction to allow entry or exit. These turnstiles offer a wider passage for users, making them suitable for areas where wheelchair accessibility or passage of bulky items is required. Swing gate turnstiles are commonly found in airports, shopping malls, or other locations where individuals may be carrying luggage or large bags.


Turnstile mechanism come in various types and variations, each designed to fulfill specific access control requirements. From compact tripod turnstiles to robust full-height turnstiles, sleek optical turnstiles to versatile waist-high turnstiles, there is a wide range of options available. Barrier turnstiles, drop arm turnstiles, and swing gate turnstiles further cater to specific needs such as higher security control, emergency situations, or accommodating wheelchair users. Understanding the different types and variations of turnstile mechanisms allows organizations to choose the most appropriate solution to enhance security, streamline entry management, and create a safe and efficient environment for employees and visitors alike.

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