Stop ‘spinning’ your wheels with flexible film and check out New Way Thrust Air Bushings!
Welcome to the final blog in our series featuring the web handling solutions offered by New Way®.
Throughout the series, we have highlighted the growth of the flexible film industry and the resulting demand to find components to improve mass production amidst the unique requirements presented by the flexible film industry.
Following right along is our final product to highlight—thrust air bushings. Thrust bushings are applicable to the flexible film industry because they are ideal for providing an axial constraint to shaft-based applications often found in roll-to-roll processing.
Let’s look more closely at thrust air bushings and the unique features offered by the New Way design to improve production for flexible film.
Thrust Air Bushings Basics
Thrust air bushings, like all New Way products, are founded on Porous Media TechnologyTM This distinctive design distributes pressurized air through millions of sub-micron holes providing a non-contact, no-friction solution.
Thrust air bushings are an extension of New Way’s Air Bushings, which use a cylinder of porous media to provide both linear and rotary motion. Thrust air bushings are formed when a porous carbon media thrust face is added to constrain one end axially to prevent linear motion.
They are encased in an aluminum housing and mount inside a bore or a frame. Thrust air bushings are offered in two standard sizes, 5/8” and 1.25”, and can also be custom manufactured.
Differentiating Features of Thrust Air Bushings
A unique byproduct of the New Way Thrust Air Bushing design is the ability to turn it into a custom air spindle, a critical component in roll-to-roll manufacturing. The non-contact nature makes them ideal for high-speed spindle applications.
Rolling-element-bearing spindles are known to exhibit both synchronous and asynchronous errors. The imperfection in size of the balls from one to another result in unwanted motion, changing over time as the balls wear from contact. The cumulative effect of these errors can induce vibration into the web, making precision requirements cumbersome, or impossible to meet.
With no moving parts, thrust air bushings remove this obstacle with virtually no asynchronous error and low synchronous error. The porous media thrust face and sleeve provide an even distribution of air, an advantage over other air technologies.
Next, let’s take a look at how the design and unique features of New Way Thrust Air Bushings are directly improving roll-to-roll production for flexible film.
3 Ways New Way Thrust Bushings are Improving Flexible Film Production
1. Improved Web Tension
Web tension is a hot topic in the flexible film industry as managing it well (or not!) can directly impact your production yield. Too much tension can cause stiffness; too little can cause sagging and wrinkles. Both of these scenarios can cause damage or deformation to the web, impacting production numbers and the bottom line. Likewise, managing web tension is critical to meet the nano-level precision requirements common to the flexible film market.
Spindles are a vital component of web tension as they wind, unwind, and rewind rolls. Rolling-element-bearing spindles introduce vibration affecting web tension. Additional components or systems are often needed to compensate or characterize for this induced vibration to be able to meet stringent precision requirements demanded by the flexible film industry.
Utilizing thrust air bushings as spindles absolve the concern of such errors, simplifying or removing the need for costly components or systems for managing web tension.
Another distinctive feature of thrust air bushings is the control offered through the use of porous media. The porous carbon thrust face and sleeve allow for an even air distribution providing greater control of the spindle when the air pressure is modified.
2. Less Maintenance
You might breathe a sigh of relief once you’ve identified components that will support the development of your flexible film. But don’t forget to look hard at the maintenance requirements! Maintenance length and frequency intervals can be burdensome, directly impacting production.
Rolling-element-bearing spindles require lubrication and regular replacement making maintenance a necessity; having a direct impact on production quantity resulting from downtime. Furthermore, if oil/lubrication makes contact with the spindle, damage to the substrate can occur.
As with all New Way products, the use of air instead of oil/lubrication obviates the need for costly maintenance downtime or concern of contact. Additionally, since there is no contact, no wear is occurring between the components, allowing for longer operating life of the thrust bushings.
3. Improved Temperature Control
Roll-to-roll flexible operations often require operations at high speeds. A known problem is the heat created in this environment with oil-based bearings because of the contact and friction occurring. Temperature management becomes a concern and if not properly managed, the heat can degrade the grease in sealed bearings and hasten wear of the component.
Thrust air bushings operate with no-contact and no friction, precluding the need for additional cooling equipment or concern of impact to the web.
Let Us Spin Up Your Production!
New Way Thrust Air Bushings offer a compelling option for your suite of flexible film components. Used alone or in concert with air turns or spherical air bearings, your production is bound to improve!
Tell us more about your project and we can help you get started!
Don’t forget to check out the other posts in this series featuring Air Turns and Spherical Bearings.