As time passes and technology continues to advance at an ever-increasing rate, being a mechanical engineer, even a successful one, has certainly not become any easier and may have become much more difficult. The technology industry is constantly growing and with millions of engineers working collaboratively on the industry’s latest problems – all working to create the “latest technological innovation” – being at the forefront of the field is only becoming more challenging.
Air bearings most certainly are one of these “latest innovations.” along with OAV roller air bearings. Air bearings are non-contact, frictionless bearings which, unlike traditional bearings, use air to virtually eliminate friction. By so doing, the moving parts exhibit little or no physical wear and tear and thus keep performing at an ultra-precise level much longer than traditional bearings. Being “essentially frictionless” results in a negligible heat generation, thus eliminating many of the issues evidenced in traditional bearings. While air bearings are still relatively new, they are rapidly becoming more popular as a result of the many current problems they eliminate. While a bit more costly than older technologies, the use of air bearings in virtually all uses to date has resulted in a vastly reduced downtime in essential Machinery and a much lower labor cost for necessary replacement.
In today’s ever-changing environment, every successful mechanical engineer will confront a multitude of challenges along the way; most they will not have considered previously. Working through these challenges and developing solutions is essential to being a successful mechanical engineer.
At OAV, we believe the following are the top 5 challenges mechanical engineers face:
Most mechanical engineers work with moving parts, which requires working with traditional bearings. Traditional bearings like all moving parts experience friction which, especially in conjunction with an inconsistency in production produces wear and tear on the bearings and the machines of which they are a part
High-quality Air bearings virtually eliminate these issues by essentially eliminating friction and the heat that is associated with it. They not only retain their ultra-precision qualities, (thereby keeping production consistent) but having little or no degradation they perform at a higher level for a much longer time.
For Machinery to perform at a high level of consistency and precision, products being developed by mechanical engineers must be precise and of the highest quality. Through the use of air bearings, not only will machines require less maintenance (less downtime and lost production and their associated labor costs), but they will (through reducing heat generation and component degradation) enable the Machinery to operate with greater consistency. The machines produce a consistent product AND become more efficient.
Machinery that requires downtime or that degrades with time (thereby producing an inconsistent product) stiff slows production and hurts the manufacturing process, costing the company, both time and money.
The speed of operating machine parts is ever-increasing to enhance production capabilities. One encounters severe limitations when utilizing traditional bearings due to the heat caused by the accompanying friction. Being essentially “frictionless,” precision Air bearings can maintain very high speeds while maintaining a very smooth motion.
4. Clean Room
Due to the need for lubrication and the resulting use of lubricants or oil, traditional bearings are inherently “dirty” and result in a “dirty” environment. Air bearings eliminate this issue and create no mess at all, keeping the Machinery’s work area clean. Air bearings use clean air as their lubricant providing the machine operators a clean environment. Not having to clean or worry about a dirty work area or machine not only saves time but diminishes machinery damage or malfunctions and thus reduces inconsistencies in production.
With growing concerns and studies about what manufacturing has done to the planet, being environmentally friendly is now a significant concern. A great idea that requires the use of products that aren’t environmentally friendly may work initially, but long term environmental sensitivity is essential. Air bearings, on the other hand, have little to no wear and tear, which allows them to have an (almost) indefinite operating life. In addition, using contaminant-free air and not oil eliminates the possibility of spills and polluting water systems. In addition to being technologically advanced, air bearings are better for our environment.