Timing relays are arranged for an intentional delay in operating their contacts. A very short (a fraction of a second) delay would use a copper disk between the armature and moving blade assembly. Current flowing in the disk maintains magnetic field for a short time, lengthening release time. For a slightly longer (up to a minute) delay, a dashpot is used. A dashpot is a piston filled with fluid that is allowed to escape slowly; both air-filled and oil-filled dashpots are used. The time period can be varied by increasing or decreasing the flow rate. For longer time periods, a mechanical clockwork timer is installed. Relays may be arranged for a fixed timing period, or may be field adjustable, or remotely set from a control panel. Modern microprocessor-based timing relays provide precision timing over a great range.
Some relays are constructed with a kind of “shock absorber” mechanism attached to the armature which prevents immediate, full motion when the coil is either energized or de-energized. This addition gives the relay the property of time-delay actuation. Time-delay relays can be constructed to delay armature motion on coil energization, de-energization, or both.