In electronics and communication terms, duty cycle refers to the operating cycle of a device or machinery that is in the "on" state intermittently. It also refers to the periodic signal in pulses sent to electronic devices to measure their properties. Duty cycles are required, especially in battery-operated electronic devices, to conserve power consumption and extend a device's useful life.

According to Tooling University, duty cycle also refers to the maximum period of time a piece of equipment can be safely operated without harming users. Some machinery and equipment generate excessive heat that damages components and should be allowed to cool down before resuming operation.

Printer manufacturers use duty cycle to specify the maximum monthly printing capacity of personal and business printers. Their calculations are based on ink or toner capacity and the average time it takes a given printer to print a page, reports All Business.

Radar and radio technology also uses duty cycles, known as duty factors, to transmit signals. Instead of continually sending a stream of signals, radio devices and radars broadcast signals in bursts to maintain the cooling requirements of transmission towers. Radio signal strength is effectively diminished in an overheated transmission tower.

Electronic music also is measured by its duty cycles to determine its frequency. Musicians can alter electronic sounds by changing the duty cycles, which are represented by oscillating waves. This enables musicians to form a particular sound that conforms to the tempo of the music they are composing.