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What are the Applications of Air Bushings?

What are the Applications of Air Bushings?

What is a Bushing?

Bush bearings (also known as bushings or bushes) are a type of independent plain bearing, providing a low-resistance surface to reduce friction between contact faces. Applications of air bushings include rotary and linear shaft-based systems to minimize friction between moving parts. Despite improvements in materials and lubricants, conventional bushings continue to fight friction-causing issues such as:

  • Heat generation
  • Component wear and breakdown
  • Inconsistent performance
  • Periodic maintenance requirements

New Way® Air Bushings offer a frictionless alternative by distributing a thin, stiff layer of air through a tube of externally pressurized porous graphite substrate. This Porous Media Technology™ uses the natural permeability of carbon to create even air distribution, and is currently revolutionizing numerous industries. The unique design creates several benefits including:

With an understanding of what bushings are used for, let’s look at six applications for utilizing air bushings in place of conventional bushings.

What is a Bushing Used For?

Air bushings have a wide range of uses across many diverse industries. Here are six industries that require precision bearings to complete complex processes:

1. Medical Industry

Diagnostic equipment such as MRI and CT scanners often use bushings for linear and rotary motion. The advancement of diagnostic imaging techniques has been accompanied by ever more stringent precision and alignment requirements. The frictionless air bushings eliminates the misalignment that is often inherent in mechanical bushings, making them an ideal component for these applications. In addition, the high speed and natural damping of porous media based products increases throughput and decreases noise, allowing for a more patient-friendly environment.

2. Precision Machining

 Closeup on precision cnc machine drilling metal in a large workshop
Author: New Way Air Bearings
Bushings are an integral part of the design of precision machining applications. Similar to the requirements of medical machines, these machines have the critical precision and alignment criteria for acceptable operation. New Way’s air bushings can be used to meet these high standards, while also providing the benefits of a maintenance-free operation.

Precision machining requires extreme tolerances for straightness of motion, vibration resistance and motion hysteresis reduction. New Way air bushings handily meet those requirements. In Technical Report 3 – The Application of Damped Air Bearings for Machine Tools, we discuss how air bearings and bushings exhibit a remarkable, positive correlation between stiffness and damping, virtually unheard of in machines designed with traditional contact bearings.

Additionally over on our blog, we discuss how air bushings formed the basis for FLORA II, a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant-funded system for non-rotationally symmetric optical surfaces.

3. Automotive Component & Vehicle Testing

As manufacturing tolerance requirements tighten, air bushings provide a frictionless alternative for use in test equipment. Applications of these air bushings range from automotive component integrity to integrated vehicle operations. With no moving parts, the air bushings do not contribute errors from vibration or heat like traditional mechanical bushings. This allows manufacturers to get an accurate read on performance in critical areas:

  • Noise
  • Vibration
  • Frame Integrity
  • Torque
  • Fatigue

Additionally, the repeatability inherent to Porous Media Technology provides manufacturers with an increased confidence in their product’s true performance. These reasons are why New Way has been chosen for use in high-performance, dynamic test actuators for the racing industry.

4. Energy

Turbine operations are ideal assemblies for using air bushings. The 360° film of air provides true rotation of the shaft, enabling more efficient operation. Additionally, turbine operations with air bushings benefit from no wear and tear, oil-free operation, and precision movement.

The next generation of power generation and delivery systems may very well be built on air bearings, and Porous Media offers the greatest benefits to the industry. In Technical Report 6 – Air Bearings for High Power Turbomachinery, we cover the work of Bugra Ertas of General Electric’s research center.

In the report, Ertas discusses how the need for high-damping, high-load bearing technology positions hydrodynamic bearings as the best foundation for future turbomachinery development. Especially for turbines, the ability of Porous Media air bearings to inherently remove whirl frequencies is a powerful benefit for the longevity and safety of turbine operation.

5. Converting

Bushings are prominent throughout roll-to-roll manufacturing operations. A change from traditional bushings to air bushings significantly improves energy and maintenance costs, creating more efficient operations. Additionally, air bushings can also easily be retrofitted into existing converting systems by coupling the bushing with a pillow block housing unit.

These are just a few examples of what a bushing can be used for. Our Customer Proven Solutions page provides even more applications from real New Way customers, showing air bushings and other air bearing products in rotary applications, linear-stage applications, and more.

6. Retrofitting

Systems don’t need to be designed specifically for air bushings to benefit from their remarkable benefits. New Way offers a wide array of retrofitting and custom bearing services to ensure you can easily integrate our products into your current system. Virtually every product in our catalog can be manufactured to meet your specifications, and with appropriate mounting points to accommodate your current configuration.

Ready to Learn More?

New Way has a free infographic available entitled Air Bushings 101. This informative guide is the next step to understanding what an air bushing is, and how they can be used for improving your manufacturing.

With a standard line of metric and English sized air bushings, as well as custom orders, New Way is confident we can help meet your unique needs. Contact us for a no-obligation consultation to get started!

Contact us today for a complimentary consultation