Here at New Way Air Bearings®, we’re proud to support cutting edge processes for manufacturing, inspection and motion technologies. In this article, we want to discuss how Porous Media Technology™ impacts automated inspection testing. Learn how our unique air bearings offer a multitude of benefits to any manufacturer who’s looking to increase both throughput and quality control in their process.
Thanks to advances in machine learning and automation capabilities, ‘lights-out’ manufacturing is coming into focus as a new paradigm for OEM’s everywhere. These highly automated systems are dependent on reliable motion technology for in-line measurement and inspection systems. From dimensional verification and roundness checking to niche applications like torque measurement and in situ interferometry, Porous Media air bearings offer the reliability, precision, and repeatability required for automated testing in an Industry 4.0 environment.
In-line dimensional verification has become increasingly essential to automated production. These systems allow autonomous tool cells to inspect components without removing them from the manufacturing process. Such autonomous cells require accurate, maintenance-free motion solutions to ensure they can run 24/7 and keep up with the rest of your production line.
Our partners at +Vantage Corp understand this very well. They’ve been moving from contact bearings towards Porous Media bearings for the automated inspection of engine cylinder bores, crankshafts and other automotive components. Similarly, B&G Manufacturing has found great success in their in-house roundness checker, built on Radial Air Bearings and Flat Round Air Bearings.
Producing components which require not simply dimensional verification but also detailed processes like torque measurement can be a greater challenge. Air bearings simplify this automation process as well. Air Bushings and Air Spindles enable fast, self-centering radial motion.
This capability is proven in our work with real-world partners. We teamed up with Magtrol to create a system to measure the static torque in small motors. Their goal was to calibrate their own “golden system” for internal reference. Magtrol used radial bearings and air bushings to develop their Torque Calibration Beam as a standard for their dynamometers.
The development of films for applications like wearable electronics is a growing business. Roll-to-roll processes can benefit by switching from contact rollers to non-contact solutions to New Way’s Air Turns. By making this easy change, your automated production process gains the ability to inspect these films while they’re in production.
Owing to the air gap on either side of a material being transported, flatness and web stability can be measured in real time through such techniques as IBS Precision Engineering’s Areal Interferometry for Nanoscale Surfaces (ARINNA). This in-process inspection technique gives an operator the ability to actively adjust fly height in response to measured data, a brand new capability for roll-to-roll processes.
Retrofitting for Automation
Many OEMs might be concerned or intimidated by the cost to redevelop an already existing automated system. With Porous Media products these fears are more often than not unfounded. New Way has a long history of working to retrofit our products into systems designed for contact bearings.
Our history with retrofitting Sheffield coordinate measuring machines is so well developed that we offer an off the shelf product line specifically for this purpose, as many of our products are drop-in ready. On top of that, we offer fully custom engineering on request.
If you’re considering upgrading your automation process to Porous Media and want to learn more, or you already have an application in mind, please reach out to our dedicated engineering sales team!