Home » Blog » Thrust Bushings Versus Air Bushings

Thrust Bushings Versus Air Bushings

Thrust Bushings Versus Air Bushings

Thrust Bushings Versus Air Bushings

Any comparison of Thrust Bushings and Air Bushings must begin with an understanding of the baseline air bushing concept.

The Air Bushing and Its Application

New Way Air Bearings® designed air bushings for precision and economy. Utilizing New Way’s proprietary Porous Media TechnologyTM, air bushings deliver low coefficients of friction and high motion-control resolution for less-expensive rail systems. This near Frictionless Motion® provides the atypical benefit-set common to New Way products, including High speed, high acceleration, higher damping, straighter motion, zero wear, as well as smooth and silent operation, all without the need for lubrication.

Available in a range of standard Metric sizes from 13 mm to 75mm, and in English sizes from ¼” to 3.00″, and custom sizes up to 1m in diameter, New Way Air Bushings are designed to fit commonly-available shaft sizes.

Common Shafting. Uncommon Precision.

New Way Air Bushings are, essentially, a ‘tube’ of porous media. By applying an air pressure of just 60 psi (0.4 MPa), air is distributed evenly through millions of sub-micron holes that occur naturally in the bearing surface, creating an 8 µm (0.0004″) layer of air between the bushing and the shaft.

The precise nature of the shaft itself is critical. Commonly-used shafting materials include hardened steel, stainless steel, plastic, carbon fiber…even glass tubes. Because shaft surface finishes of Ra 0.4mm (16µ in) are widely available, creating precision, single-axis linear motion is easy. For more application information, consult the New Way Air Bearing Application and Design Guide.

Air Bushings Deliver Economical Linear Motion

Air bushings on parallel shafts create precise motion in one axis, eliminating the heat and vibration commonly associated with the roller-contact inherent in recirculating ball slides.

Co-polymer o-rings make for easy bushing installation inside New Way’s black anodized aluminum mounting blocks, providing enough compliance to compensate for parallelism errors of up to .002″ over the length of the shaft.

The resulting micro-resolution allows for levels of precision previously unattainable in rail-mounted stages. Better still, New Way Air Bushings are directly interchangeable with most rolling element bushings. They compare favorably across virtually every performance characteristic, and they are easy to apply or replace.

Air Bushings Also Provide Precision Rotary Motion

The even distribution of air pressure across the face of the air bushing creates a self-centering force that allows for true 360° non-contact motion. This enables precision rotary applications.

In fact, the non-contact nature of the air bushing allows for higher rotational speeds in spindle-type applications, again, with all the benefits previously mentioned. You will often find New Way Air Bushings in applications where both precision linear and rotary motion are required concurrently.

Thrust Bushings Add Axial Constraint to the Air Bushing Concept

thrust bushings and air bushingsNew Way Thrust Bushings were engineered to add an axial constraint to shaft-based applications. To do so, New Way added a porous-media thrust face to the air bushing concept. Thrust bushings are designed to allow for radial motion but constrain one end axially to prevent linear motion in one direction.

Available to run on standard English 5/8” and 1-1/4” shafting, New Way Thrust Bushings can also be custom manufactured to your exact size requirements.

One of the most-common uses of the thrust bushing is for the creation of relatively inexpensive custom air spindles. In contrast to rolling-element-bearing spindles, thrust-bushing-spindles deliver very low synchronous error motion and virtually zero asynchronous error motion. In fact, Axis of Rotation Metrology for these air bearing spindles reveals an error motion of less than 0.000002in.

Air Bushings and Thrust Bushings Are Inherently Crash-Resistant

Porous media air bushings and thrust bushings are made using porous carbon, itself inherently a bearing surface. In the event of a catastrophic air loss, the natural lubricity of this material will slow the stage or spindle gradually, preventing potential damage and ensuring safe operation. New Way products are not damaged due to such contact and are typically ready-to-go immediately once air is restored.

Air Bushings and Thrust Bushings Enable Disruptive Innovation

New Way Air Bushings and Thrust Bushings are an enabling technology for disruptive innovation. They are ideal for the delivery of differentiating applications in a broad array of industries.

One example is the automotive testing market, where lives are dependent on the precision of the results. Frictionless dynamic testing enables manufacturers to get an ‘honest read’ on their equipment across the automotive supply chain. New Way bushing products enable the repeatable, frictionless linear motion required for fatigue, torque, frame, vibration and simulation testing.

Whatever industry you’re working in, this simple, visual tool provides a clear, concise rationale for using New Way’s porous media technology in your next application. Or, if you have a more immediate need, contact us directly today for your complimentary consultation!

Learn More About the Porous Media Difference