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How Do You Improve Measurement in a Balance Machine? Balance Bearings!

How Do You Improve Measurement in a Balance Machine? Balance Bearings!

Learn Three Ways Balance Bearings Improve Measurements in Balance Machines

A shift in balance occurred from man to machine during the Industrial Revolution, as engines, pumps, and turbines transformed life as people knew it. These machines made mass production possible while also stimulating inventions across a range of industries, including:

  • Power
  • Manufacturing
  • Transportation
  • Medical
  • Communication

Equally important during this time period though was the creation of the balance machine. The effects of out-of-balance rotating machines can produce vibrations resulting in unintended forces on its bearings. These forces impact the structure and foundation, affecting operations, component life issues, potential damage, not to mention potential safety hazards.

Fast forward three centuries later where the balance machine still exists and so have the applications requiring it. The question is are traditional balance machines keeping pace with today’s precision and productivity demands?

Keeping Up the Balancing Act

Traditional balancing machines utilize roller bearings to rotate the artifact under test. These roller bearings present their own set of challenges in a balance machine, such as:

  • Additional ErrorUnwanted Vibration
  • Friction-Induced Wear
  • Burdensome Maintenance Requirements
  • High-Speed Heat Generation

The combination of these challenges can make today’s precision and high-speed requirements difficult to achieve. Additionally, the demand to get products to market quickly means engineers are constantly looking for a reliable, efficient solution requiring little to no maintenance to allow operations to continue.

A design offering precision at high (and low) speeds, as well as limited maintenance, requires a unique solution.

The answer: Balance Bearings by New Way®.

Striking a New Balance

New Way had its beginnings more than 30 years ago with air bearings in the metrology industry, an industry with high-precision at its core. Our success can be attributed to our foundational Porous Media TechnologyTM. This design utilizes porous carbon material inherent with millions of sub-micron holes, creating a thin yet robust air film across the entire bearing surface. Through the resulting surface-averaging effect, concerns of pressure gradients are resolved, resulting in the ability to provide greater precision on a consistent basis.

New Way now offers an air bearing specifically for balance machines built on this differentiating design. New Way Balance Bearings utilize a combination of radial air bearings with a unique snap joint.

Radial air bearings support rotating, round artifacts at varying speeds using a thin, even distribution layer of air. Despite the thin nature of the air layer, it is incredibly stiff and offers a sound foundation for a ring, or bearing surface. Moreover, it is able to support surface speeds of up to 100 meters-per-second.

The radial bearings are attached using the snap joint. The ability to ‘snap-off’ existing radial bearing pads and ‘’snap-on’ another size radial bearing, streamlines the change-over process when different sized rotors are to be balanced.

New Way also provides “bolt-on” adaptive hardware to retrofit air bearings into existing low- speed balance machines. The adaptive hardware is also compatible with New Way’s gas bearing hardware.

Let’s take a closer look at how this unique design is poised to improve measurement in balance machines.

Three Ways Balance Bearings Improve the Measuring Process

1. Less Vibration

There are numerous causes of unbalance. Unfortunately, traditional balance machines further complicate the issue since they impart vibration while trying to identify unwanted vibration in the balance artifact. Since roller bearings are imperfectly machined, they induce vibrations which need to be characterized. Now consider that there are multiple imperfectly machined roller bearings, creating asynchronous error. For example, this error can exceed 0.001 in. (0.0254mm) with the potential to mask the error of the balance artifact under measurement.

balancing bearingBecause there are no moving parts, balance bearings introduce no additional error to the measurement procedure. In this case, the balance artifact is the only rotating reference surface resulting in synchronous errors. These errors can be averaged, resulting in less than one-tenth of the amplitude of the hard rollers’ motion errors. This results in a clean signal that is exactly the same each revolution, allowing for a finer resolution in balancing.

2. Improved High-Speed Operations

While low-speed balance operations are still necessary, there is an increasing demand to run at high-speeds. The ability to mimic operational conditions or to perform balance operations more efficiently is ideal, though not without challenges. High-speed operations present thermal issues, causing degradation of the oil and hastening wear of the roller bearings.

With the use of air instead of oil, balance bearings perform high-speed balancing operations without concern of the effect of thermal properties on the lubricant. This enables a long-term reliable solution to perform both low and high-speed balancing operations with the same level of accuracy.

An additional feature is the ability to operate in a vacuum chamber. High-speed or ‘at-speed’ machines often require operation in a vacuum chamber. Oil causes a mess in these chambers. The oil needs to be flooded, contained and collected. Balance bearings eliminate the need of this burdensome process and use so little air that vacuum pressure in the chamber is not affected.

3. Reduced Maintenance

Maintenance is a necessary evil in operations. A design that minimizes maintenance while still performing as required is highly sought after. Balance bearings offer such a design.

The use of air over oil removes the need for associated downtime for lubrication. With no moving parts, no friction is created, and thus there is no wear. This translates to higher reliability, increased operations time, as well as cost savings on part replacements.

Just one of these benefits alone offers an improvement to a balance machine. The balance bearing design is able to tout the ability of all three benefits. By improving balancing operations, the balance artifact has a better chance of achieving precision, especially in high-speed applications, and minimizing maintenance in the end product operation as well.

Five Ideal Applications of Balance Bearings

By improving balance machine operations, New Way balance bearings have a direct implication to the operational performance of the artifact under measurement.

Listed below are a variety of industries with a few examples of applications that can benefit from the use of balance bearings in a balance machine. These industries share common goals of precision and high productivity, often at high speeds.


Example Balance Applications

1. Medical
  • Dental turbines, surgical drills, heart pump assemblies
2. Automated Manufacturing
  • Milling, drilling, grinding tools, including the production of these precision tools
  • Rotors, armature, and engines used in production lines
3. Space (Aero & Astro)
  • Jet and aircraft components & assemblies
  • Satellite/Payload components & assemblies
4. Automotive
  • Tires, axles, brakes, crankshafts, engines
5. Turbomachinery
  • Gas, steam, wind & water turbines directly impacting other industries like energy/power, automotive, space, and oil & gas

While far from an exhaustive list, these examples offer a glimpse of the diverse range of applications balance bearings can be used in.

The industries listed are some of the same which the Industrial Revolution energized. These industries have evolved since then demanding improvements to the balance machine of old to accommodate the precision and productivity demanded in today’s world.

Balance bearings by New Way are an essential component for a balance machine expected to deliver high-precision results, at varying speeds, in an efficient manner.

Regain Your Balance!

Whether your balance machine application is for a dental drill (ouch!) or a mass turbine for industrial power, balance bearings deliver the same benefits. The precision, reliability and robust design offered with balance bearings provide greater resolution over traditional balance machines. This advancement in balance machine operations will improve safety, efficiency as well as an increase in the artifact’s operational life.

Whether you are looking to outfit a new design or retrofit an existing balance machine, we’re confident we can apply our 30+ years of experience to find the right solution for you. Contact us today for a complimentary consultation so we can help you find the right balance for your application.

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