Everything You Need to Know About Air Bearings

What are Air Bearings?

When it comes to the visualization of bearing, an immediate image of ball bearing comes in mind. This simple device has movable and static parts separated by small-lubricated balls that rotate the shaft. In contrast, air bearings are the heavy-duty caster wheels that replace balls with bags or cushions of air. The device has a thin layer of pressurized air film that supports the weight or load. It provides a low-friction load-bearing interface between the surfaces. The surfaces do not touch, thus eliminating friction as well as the need for constant lubrication for effortless working. These bearings mostly apply for use in heavy precision or high-speed machinery.

Ball Bearing Vs. Air Bearings

A conventional ball bearing system cannot deliver the high-speed industry demands while maintaining precision, thermal stability, and service life. This is because of the contact between mechanical parts with bearings and friction production that opposes the speed. The generation of excessive heat at a high ratio can also cause a loss of accuracy and bearing failure.

On the other hand, Air Bearing has no metallic balls present to cause friction. Instead, it uses air films for a friction less movement resulting in smooth, linear movement.

Advantages of Air Bearings

The following are the most prominent advantages of using air-supported heavy-duty caster wheels:

  • Friction less Performance

The most beneficial factor of using air-supported bearings is that it delivers low friction or friction less performance. The lack of friction and contact means there is a lesser chance of reversal. Friction is a non-linear effect that affects the servo controls and movement. The absence of friction gives a higher static and dynamic functioning with better performance.

  • Higher Moves Per Second

With the elimination of friction, motor controls achieve a higher rate of moves per second with air bearings. This is because the absence of friction provides a shorter settling time and no waiting time for eliminating friction. In this way, the feed forwarding can apply directly to the servomotors with better accuracy.

  • Servo Tuning

The presence of air-supported bearings does not have contacting parts that allow better servo tuning for any given stage. The resulted tuning is a robust and smooth performance. Stages with the same mass of payload do not need fine-tuning every time, as they remain identical to match unit-to-unit variation. The simple yet effective design leads to a high-performance servo tuning.

  • Low Count of Particles

With the absence of friction in air bearing, every stage is a perfect result from the perspective of particle contamination as long as the air used in bearings remains dust-free.

  • Straight Motion

The absence of friction means that there is nothing to block the straight motion and smooth velocity. Processes like surface profiling or inertial sensor testing work best with the air bearing system.

  • Low Maintenance

As there are no movable parts for contact that results in wear and tear, air-supported bearings require low maintenance. With the high stability of the system, the performance cannot change throughout the life cycle.

  • Clean Functions

With no generation of airborne particles, air bearing is a clean system to operate. In some cases, the use of nitrogen gas can give about 99% cleanliness function.

Major Industries Using Air Bearings System

  • Flat Panel Display (FPD)

Air BearingsThe standard application of air bearings in Flat Panel Display is for non-contact material handling in Automated Optical Inspection (AOI). AOI input and output system uses air pressure for floating glass. For other areas like inspection or coating, a combination of air pressure and vacuum happens for greater control and precise positioning.

  • Optics

Many precision tools and machinery, including grinders and lathers, use air-supported bearings for optical lens production. With no need for lubricants, these bearings provide ultra-positioning and movement ideal for the application.

  • Aerospace

The aerospace industry uses air bearings to make a simulation and replica of a friction less environment. This feature helps design and develop testing parts needed for satellites and other parts critical for mission success.

Unsuitable Environment for Air Bearings System

Even though air bearings have become a part of significant industries, some operating environments still cannot utilize the system. These settings include:

  • Environments with Vacuum

While this air-based Heavy Duty Caster wheel system can operate in vacuum environments, the process is a highly challenging one. For vacuum environments, ball or magnetic bearings should replace the air support system.

  • Dusty Setting

Environments with high dust, dirt, and debris are not suitable for the air-bearing system. This is because a dusty setting causes accidental punctures, causing failure in system functions.

  • Inconsistent Air Pressure

Avoid using air bearing in areas where operators cannot provide constant air pressure. The constant air supply is a necessary aspect of this system, and without it, the system fails in functionality.

Final Word

The air bearing is a highly efficient and effortless system that results in precise machine functioning. The functions and benefits of this system are highly sought in the modern-day application of various industries. However, the system does have its drawbacks, but the high resulting function always mask their shortcomings.

Heavy Equipment Manufacturing: Renting vs. Buying

On how many occasions have you looked into renting or buying a tool or equipment? Still wondering if there is a right or wrong decision? Well, there isn’t.

The construction industry is so competitive now that even the smallest additional cost can bring you down from that top bidder spot. Construction equipment and tools are bought and/or rented in certain cases; however, the final decision is dependent on the frequency and methods by which you can allocate some of these costs.

Should you rent or buy construction tools and equipment? Let’s look at some intriguing points of view for you to consider.

Benefits of Buying

A general rule of thumb is that if you are utilizing a tool or equipment more than half of the time, then you should think of buying it.

Purchasing a tool or equipment is a choice that ultimately impacts your immediate opportunities for providing a lesser price to your consumers. If you are buying the equipment, consider the tax benefits it can offer and how the cost is depreciated or amortized through a straight line or compound declining balance.

Owned materials and tools like Heavy-Duty Caster Wheels, industrial Turntables, lifting jacks.

are regarded as assets adding to your balance sheet and which can always be sold in case of hard times. If you’re the owner of the material, it is easy to direct the pace and decide when to use, but remember to account for its transit costs.

Finally, there is an idea of joint ownership, when different companies join forces to purchase large equipment, so it can be available to all the parties, and the cost gets divided into many shareholders. Usually, loan installments are only a small fraction of rental rates, as this also includes fuel, maintenance, transport, and many other costs.

Renting Benefits

If you’re indecisive still, start by renting the material required for the job as it can give information about the cost and maintenance to estimate a payback period. Additionally, the rental experience is used to find out the efficiency of your production when the tools are used continually rather than being an option. Using rental tools such as heavy-duty caster wheels, industrial Turntables, lifting jacks, will normally bake the cost in and pass to the consumer as overhead or indirect costs during the project execution.

Rental costs are thought of as business expenses and deducted yearly. Renting is profitable when you don’t have plenty of funds to invest, and by renting it, you will gain access to the latest equipment while not carrying the burden of insurance or maintenance.

Buying or Renting Equipment

If we are examining heavy equipment, then it should be viewed a little differently. Reduced interest rates, tax, and other incentives (money) are making the buying decision more appealing than ever. But, be aware that the storage and upkeep costs can hugely affect your cash flow when the tools are not used efficiently.

There is the option of renting your material too, but you will have to ensure the appropriate insurances are in place, and there is sufficient money to cover operational expenses. Larger equipment demands extra analysis during the buy-or-rent equipment process, and distinct models and options should be considered. Don’t forget that every equipment maintains a different value over time, so do some research and compare the costs of used tools before purchasing.

Along with all of these items, be aware of the transportation costs and permits needed to move the equipment from one location to another, and consider if the storage space will be affected by road postings. If your material is rented within 100 miles, then minimum costs are associated with it, but when it’s used in remote places, remember to add travel expenses, repairs,  maintenance, and fuel if it needs to be serviced.

When to Buy and When to Rent Construction Tools & Equipment

The gist of this question can be obtained after you evaluate the following points:

  • If you are using the machine 176 consecutive hours or 22 days for more than 8 months a year, consider buying it.
  • If your tools are required by a specialty contractor that you are planning to employ temporarily or if only required for a single project, then simply rent it.
  • Whenever a project or a group of projects in your facility requires the same equipment over and over, just buy it.
  • Multipurpose tools such as drills, generators, rotary hammers, or tools like diggers, backhoes, or front-wheel loaders, needed constantly, buy them. Rental costs will accumulate quickly.
  • If your cash flow is not big enough or if creditworthiness is an issue for your business, rent it.

How do you go about getting your equipment and tools? Do you buy or rent? Spark a conversation down in the comments.